Class of 1997
Eleven Years after Graduating, Alum Visits Campus for First Time
(written by Erin Ryan, originally published in UPDATE, October 16, 2008 issue)
In 1997, New Yorker Robert Clune earned a master’s degree in Instructional & Performance Technology (IPT) from Boise State University without ever setting foot on campus. Taking advantage of IPT’s trailblazing online graduate program, Clune completed his coursework remotely while working full-time on the other side of the country.
Despite the distance, Clune felt a strong connection to Boise State. He has maintained connection through the IPT Community Listserv, an online forum where students, graduates, faculty and staff members interact and share resources. He also has watched the Broncos rise to glory on the football field and traveled more than 2,000 miles to attend tomorrow’s home game against Hawai’i.
“I want to see the university,” Clune said. “For me it’s hallowed ground.”
Clune and his wife arrived Thursday to walk the blue turf and visit the College of Engineering. Friday morning, they will go on a comprehensive tour of Boise State, which, in some ways, Clune feels more a part of than his undergraduate alma mater. “I don’t mean that in a negative way…I just never felt the closeness to any of the students and instructors there that I did with those at Boise State,” he said.
Dr. Don Stepich, associate professor and department chair of IPT, is not surprised by Clune’s sentiment. He said the online environment primes students to build lasting relationships.
“It isn’t simply a matter of the instructor being the sole source of information or feedback or advice. The students truly learn from one another,” Stepich said. “That doesn’t end with the semester or program, and that’s one of the reasons they hold onto the connection after they graduate.”
While Clune timed his visit to coincide with an evening of Bronco football, he made it clear that his loyalty to and affection for Boise State is about much more than BCS rankings.
“I feel a tremendous spirit toward the IPT program, ” he said.