Video Transcipt – 2023 State of the University
[President Tromp] It is such a pleasure to see you all here together today, and I am so excited about the beginning of the school year. We have some special guests to recognize today, from our foundation board, our alumni board, and our state board of education. I also wanna give a special thanks to the leaders of the university who have worked so hard over the past few years, to create the incredible outcomes that I’m gonna talk to you about today.
We were founded in 1932, most people know that. This is the year of the splitting of the atom, the yeah Gandhi escalated his fight for Indian independence, Amelia Earhart’s transatlantic flight, the Great Depression. It was political tumult, economic uncertainty, great innovation, creativity. We have had people pull together to make this university great in times of challenge and difficulty for nearly 100 years. We are now no longer that small institution, that we began as in 1932.
We are a powerhouse university that is leading in so many areas. We have a storied past and an even greater future. And what I’m so exhilarated to tell you about today are the kinds of things this university is doing and to share with you some news you haven’t seen yet.
But first I wanna acknowledge that is the people in this room and the people watching right now who have created these outcomes. This university is an institution made up of extraordinary people, faculty, staff, students and community members who have done incredible work, to yield record breaking results. And what a thrill to talk about the work you have done today. So when I’m talking about the university, I just want everyone to know I am talking about the people in this room right now. Thank you.
We are in a challenging moment, a challenging landscape, and in spite of that, in spite of that, we have incredible access and we’ve increased our enrollment. We have one of the lowest cost educations in the country. We’ve impacted our economy in our state and we’ve built new partnerships. And we’ve done that in part with the guidance of our strategic plan.
We worked together as a university during the pandemic to define what the keystone goals should be for this institution, and I’m gonna talk about those today. The first was improve educational access and student success. Do you know we confer more degrees than all the public institutions combined in Idaho. Every year at Boise State.
[President Tromp] We owe you all a hearty congratulations for that. And we are doing better and better, in our strategic enrollment and retention plan, which is a part of our strategic plan that’s designed to understand where do we need to serve students better? How do we need to serve them better? How do we get them here to access this incredible education?
We’ve increased our Idaho Pell and first generation students and my friends, you heard me say last year, that we’d increased Idaho role enrollment after we saw a dip after the pandemic. We increased it by 20% last year. This year we increased it by another 6% on top of that.
[President Tromp] We’ve continued to impact our rural students. Our we’ve got new regional and rural efforts that are reaching out to people across the state who have never even thought about college education like the people I grew up with. We’ve continued to maintain and grow our population of Hispanic and Latinx students because our board told us to serve the demographic of our state and by God, we’re gonna do the work to do that.
[President Tromp] And we have increased our first time Idaho students, which is a point of pride for me because what that does is it changes people’s lives and it changes their family’s lives and their family’s future. My son has a different future today because I went to college, it didn’t just impact me, it impacts generations. And we are having incredible success with those students.
We have increased our six year graduation rate, our four year graduation rate. We’ve had a 52% increase in baccalaureate degrees in the past decade. That means we award 5,500 degrees a year. So if we have 140,000 living alumni, we are adding to those numbers every year in an extraordinary way.
In our enrollment in online programs, which serve many students who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to get an education. The largest population is often women in their thirties with young children. That population has grown by 79%.
[President Tromp] And I wanna take a moment to thank everyone who’s participating in teaching and learning for our students. Will you please rise or wave, to be recognized, and can we recognize these folks with our applause?
[President Tromp] Those are the people who are creating those incredible outcomes. Without our faculty and staff that support teaching and learning, those students would not have the measure of success that they have had and that is changing their lives, it’s changing Idaho and those students will go on and change the world. We’re really proud of the programs that we’re offering to help young people get access to higher education.
We’re increasing efficiency, affordability and innovation. We’ve got new programs that are reaching out to high school students that help them have 15 credits before they even get here so they can accelerate their time to degree. We’re proud that we have nearly 2200 students online right now, in the state of Idaho. So we are doing an incredible job of serving students in an online environment in Idaho. And we have extraordinarily highly ranked programs taught by our faculty, high quality programming that’s making a difference for those young people.
Our second goal drive in innovation for institutional impact. We have always been innovators. We are an institution that’s always looking for problem solving. When the NASA suits team that has always gone down to NASA, and you probably have seen many Boise State News article about these students. They work with NASA and do science projects for NASA. This year they were unable to go, well, Steve Swanson had them in his backyard and recreated NASA in his backyard.
We are constantly innovating for our students, looking for creative ways to help them be successful. We are also so proud of the way in which this university has advanced research and creative activity. That too has a profound impact on our students. This year, how about that? $91 million!
[President Tromp] When I arrived at Boise State, our annual research awards were about $50 million. We are at $91 million today. It’s just incredible.
[President Tromp] We also had an extraordinary $16 million grant. Are you here my friend? Lindsey Turner won a $16 million USDA grant to help schools bring local food into their lunch rooms.
[President Tromp] Even if we don’t count Lindsey’s grant, this gigantic grant, even if we don’t count it because we asked the question, we have had a 41% research growth in the last four years.
[President Tromp] And across campus we’ve had over six $1 million awards, or last year we had six $1 million awards. This year we had 12. We’re just doubling our impact. And our work is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary because when I met with our faculty and talked with them about the work that really fired them and our vice president of research’s office and her team, we know that we solve problems by thinking across disciplinary boundaries. And our research teams are working together, to come up with meaningful solutions. You see some of the areas where we’ve made a huge impact. I would like all of those who are conducting research or supporting research to stand and be recognized.
[President Tromp] Don’t be shy.
[President Tromp] Thank you so much for that critical work because our research moves the end, the line of knowledge, it changes what we know. And our students being able to engage in that research changes how they think. It makes them intellectual leaders, it makes them innovators to be a part of the creation of knowledge. Some of our research projects have been so exciting. This image that you’re seeing here before you was our most viewed video of the year.
And if you haven’t seen it yet, we were gonna put up a QR code, but we thought then people would like flash it and it would start playing and we’d have a million. This was a project that researchers from across Boise State, Utah state and NASA engaged in with Idaho ranchers because they noticed they were losing water days for their crops and their cattle, for their sheep. And so our researchers rewilded beavers and they got 21 additional water days a year. It’s incredible.
[President Tromp] And that kind of collaborative interdisciplinary research that’s literally changing people’s lives, is the kind of work we’re doing at Boise State. And I also want to share with you that the storytelling we’re doing about our research, and we understand this is important, sometimes public, the public will ask why do universities do research?
We need them to understand there’s a sheep rancher who had 21 extra days of water for his flock. We need them to understand that we’re doing breast cancer research, that we’re doing research on recycled plastics. We need them to understand the important work that’s happening in our labs, in our studios, in the archives, across the university, so that they understand why it should matter to them, why it matters to our faculty, and why it should matter for the future. And the storytelling that we’re doing has won national awards.
And so the stories about our research have been featured at national conferences on research storytelling. I’m very proud of that. I wanted to take a moment to share with you just a vignette of how impactful our research has been. So take a moment to watch this video. (upbeat music) It’s awesome, isn’t it?
[President Tromp] Every college at this great university is represented in that video and it makes me so proud the incredible work that’s happening in every corner of this campus. Since I arrived, I’ve promised that we would place an emphasis on community. Foster a thriving community is the fourth goal in our strategic plan. We’ve made three critical hires in this area in the last year.
Brian Wampler has moved into my office as a president’s professor of public scholarship and engagement, and he’s been work working with our faculty to think through how do we ensure that community engagement, community service are a fundamental part of how we reward our faculty for their critical work.
We’ve hired Bill Brady, who’s this university’s first ever chief human resource officer that reports to the president.
And Lisa Phillips, the Vice Provost for Community Engagement and Belonging. I am so happy to have them here to serve our community and help our community thrive.
[President Tromp] And finally, we committed to trailblaze programs and partnerships. And this you see in this slide, a picture of the governor naming Idaho Listens Day, and some of you who have probably heard about Idaho Listens. It’s an initiative of our Institute for Advancing American values. We’ve brought people together from across this political spectrum to talk with each other about what they value and why.
So instead of beginning at the point of issues where people might have conflict, we begin at the point of values so that we can actually create a dialogue, a conversation, which is what universities do. We’re very, very proud of this effort. This is the first group that presented for Idaho listens. We’ve now conducted campus events. We’ve, we’ll be going up to Coeur d’Alene soon, and we have partnered with Idaho Public Television and they’ve done a documentary on this effort. And I’ve heard from people all over the country who wanna imitate this effort because they feel like it’s such a profound way to begin dialogue.
We have achieved incredible national excellence in so many areas and we brought together the faculty and then our leadership and asked, how would you characterize the areas where we’re beginning to really form a national footprint? And these are the four areas that our community identified as being critical in terms of how we’re forming that national footprint.
One of the ways that we’re doing that, as I already mentioned, is our pathbreaking interdisciplinarity. And you know about the work we’ve done on the Sagebrush genome. You know about the kinds of things we’re doing in computing. We have an amazing student of ours here in the center who works, with the Intermountain Bird Observatory and she works in the arts and she has created a picture book for children about Idaho birds that’s now in our public schools.
That thinking across these different landscapes between the arts and the sciences, between engineering and people in the humanities is changing the way that we think and produce knowledge. This first area, technology and innovation is an area where Boise State has always been a powerhouse.
This summer I had the privilege to attend the G7 Summit. I have to tell you, it was one of the most extraordinary moments of my life to meet the institutions where behind the scenes we’d been doing work for months in response to the Chips and Science Act. To meet the presidents of the universities in Japan that became our partners to tour microns facilities there and to see what they were going to build here.
To understand what the research collaborations could be, how we could partner, what kinds of faculty and student exchanges we could do between these two critical nodes in semiconductor production so that we can begin to lead as a country and semiconductors and not be dependent on a failed supply chain. It’s an extraordinary effort, not just for our students or for our research faculty, but for this country and I’m so proud of that effort.
[President Tromp] And I’m really excited about one of the initiatives we’ve launched, the Microelectronics Education and Research Institute, and we may have good news for you about a director soon. We’ve got conducted that search. What you see are our researchers and students holding in their hands is a wafer, that’s a part of this silicon chip production. We are making headway here. We’re finding we’re developing new instrumentation and bringing new instrumentation to the university. We’re engaging our students in cutting edge pathbreaking research.
We are gonna change what happens in this country from this campus. We have world-class engineering faculty. Some of you have heard me talk about the QDNA lab. I’m gonna take just a minute to explain this ’cause a lot of people don’t know this.
When I was at the G7 Summit, the senior VP of Google said, explain something.
He said, “What would take the fastest traditional computer that exists today the fastest, a problem it would take that computer a billion years to solve, a quantum computer can solve in 30 seconds, 30 seconds, a billion years.”
Now what happens when you make machinery move as fast as quantum computing moves is it generates heat. So most quantum computing is conducted at 421 degrees below zero. It’s not practical for a mom and pop shop in a corner store. It’s not practical for a university. It’s not practical for a government. Our lab here on this campus, in this beautiful building that you see before you is working on using DNA helixes to put the computer code on because then it’s organic and it won’t generate that heat. If we solve for room temperature quantum computing on this campus, Boise State University will change the world.
[President Tromp] And we don’t just want a handful of people to benefit from this. We recognize that we’re gonna need to produce people who can be leaders in that industry, who can support that industry, who can be great thinkers to do great things. So we’ve built a program called Semiconductors for All. It starts in kindergarten so that we can prepare young people for these fields so they can get excited about STEM education and diminish some of the fear.
I always say the two things people have the greatest fear of are math and poetry. So we wanna teach young people that they can learn and do math. They can be a part of this industry, they can study science, and it comes all the way up through the university, and we’re gonna credential people across the curriculum with that semiconductor certificate so we can be ready to lead in that industry, not just as workers, but as people who are thinking and leading and offering new insight into what we can do. It’s a very exciting effort.
We are leaders in cybersecurity. We’ve launched the CYBERDOME, which allows cybersecurity students to do incredible work for live businesses. And this is happening in rural Idaho, where maybe a community couldn’t afford to hire a cybersecurity professional. And you’ve got students in a live fire facility doing that work for them. Our Institute for Pervasive Cybersecurity, Cyber Certificate for all, cyber for All, which gives any student the opportunity to add that cybersecurity training. Think about how that it changes the employability of a young person to have a cybersecurity certificate on top of their degree. Because it changes the way they think and what they know.
So we’re reaching out to make an incredible impact. And right now the technological landscape is changing so quickly. AI is here and it will change the world. So we are hosting an event, an all Boise State event on August 29th because we think it’s critical to empower our faculty to understand these technologies, to engage them in thinking about the future. And it’s, we are gonna have an opportunity to really think about what does AI, what is AI as a tool? How can we think of it as a tool? I was in conversation at the Council on Competitiveness, which I’ll talk about in just a moment, with one of our CEOs in a tech company nationally. And I said to him, he said, “I don’t know what to think about AI.”
And I said, “I think of it as being like fire. Fire is either a tool that you can use or it can burn your village down.” And so we need to understand how to manage it like a tool and how to help our community manage it. And we are committed to working with you to understand it, to think about how we can help our students understand it and to move forward together.
One of these other areas of strength is health and wellbeing. We have some of the most impactful programs in health sciences in the state, and we’re leading with high quality, online and face-to-face programs. We have the first master’s in genetic counseling ever, here at Boise State. And we have 11 online programs that are incredibly affordable. We’ve already graduated over 4,600 people from those online programs.
We also recognize that one of the most important things to Idaho, one of the things we all love the most about it is it’s great natural beauty and the way in which the environment and our natural resources are critical. The work you saw with the beavers and the ranchers, that’s a part of the work that we’re doing as we think about these natural environments. And we’re very proud that we’ve launched the School of the Environment an interdisciplinary collaboration that engages community partnerships to think about how we secure Idaho’s future and work together to create the best outcomes.
You’ve heard me mention the Sagebrush genome. Boise State mapped the Sagebrush genome. How incredible is that?
[President Tromp] What a lot of people don’t know is it’s actually more complex than the human genome. I was at Santa Cruz where we sequence the human genome. The sagebrush genome is more complex, but studying it can help us understand how the environment is changing. Studying it can help us be good stewards of our environment and understand the impacts that we’re seeing. And we’ve involved so many faculty and students in this effort.
We are also doing incredible work through the grand challenges on wildfire and smoke. And one of the things that we’re asking about is how is wildfire affecting people’s health? How is it affecting things like dementia? We’re we have researchers across our curriculum who are working on these incredibly important areas. A stunning 70% of Boise’s and Idaho’s water supply comes from snow.
We have one of the greatest concentrations of snow researchers in the world in our labs. And the work that our faculty and our students are doing is critical, to our environment, to ecology and to our economy. And so this critical work is being driven forward by Boise State. I’m very proud and thankful for the work Emily Wakefield did and that the Andrews Center did hosting the Society for Environmental Journalists Conference this year. We had 840 journalists, policy makers, tribal members, and researchers from across the country who came here to see the work that we were doing and to understand the ways in which Idaho is leading.
I’m also really proud of the effort we’ve made on community engagement. Many of you know that Brian Wampler and Heidi Reeder did incredible work to get us re-certified as a Carnegie Community Service institution. They talked with many of you they did an incredible report, lots of statistical analysis. They also have done work on the Carnegie Leadership for Public Service designation.
These are honorific designations that are held by a very small number of universities. But the work you are doing here, and this has so much to do with the fact that we’re a trailblazing university that isn’t dependent on old models. We are moving forward in ways that are allowing us to do things differently. And that trailblazing work is what has earned us these designations in the past.
And I’m very grateful for Dr. Wampler and Dr. Reeder doing this incredible effort. These are just a handful of our community partners. I think there’s something awe-inspiring about seeing this. More than 450 companies recruited Boise State students last fall. And we have more than a hundred industry business NGO community and governmental agency partners at Boise State University. We are so deeply integrated into the community. And what that comes from is this university’s long standing focus on Idaho. Even though we’re asking questions the size of quantum DNA, we ask too how those questions impact people here.
And that work is truly remarkable. Will everyone who is serving our community at this university, please stand or wave to be recognized.
[President Tromp] Please stand.
[President Tromp] Thank you so much.
[President Tromp] People are shy about standing. They’re like, I’ll just sit here and take my applause from my chair, thank you very much. Boise State joined the Council on Competitiveness with a group of leading universities, Georgetown, Purdue, Harvard, Michigan. It’s designed to enhance US productivity and prosperity for all Americans. It’s a collaboration between business leaders, labor leaders, and governmental leaders and higher education. It’s a bipartisan funded group that’s been in existence for decades to ask critical questions.
We will be hosting a competitiveness conversation right here in Boise, Idaho, for the entire nation this year. I’m also proud of another effort that’s coming here this fall. We are a partner and founding institution in REP4 rapid educational prototyping. What we do, and this is so revolutionary, we ask students to tell us, how would you redesign higher education? What would you do differently to help students succeed?
And then our nearly quarter of a million students that are represented by their partner institutions, we pilot those design ideas on our campuses. And this group is coming to Boise, Idaho this fall to understand better how we are piloting our solutions and how they can learn from our experience. I’m very proud of this effort. We hear all the time people ask, how is higher education gonna change to serve people better? This is one of the ways that we will change to serve people better, is by asking our students what they need.
Many of you also know, I serve on the NCAA D1 board of directors, my goodness, what a tumultuous time. (audience laughing) Not only do we have NIL Name Image and Likeness, which allows student athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness, but we have so much change happening in athletics, collegiate athletics right now. It’s been an honor to serve on that board and to see the commitment that the presidents from across the country have to our student athletes. And I am very proud of our student athletes success. We have one of the highest academic success rates for student athletes in the entire country.
[President Tromp] I’m gonna share some areas, some other areas of excellence across campus. You’ve already heard me talk about every single college, but I just want you to be aware that in every single unit we are making an incredible difference. We are making an impact in rural communities. We are accelerating math learning, we are doing incredible work in the tech industry and in our computer sciences program. we have number 15 best executive MBA program in the nation, Boise State, aren’t you proud of that?
[President Tromp] I’d actually also feel a little proud that we are head of universities like Cornell and Columbia in our MBA ranking. I had a student ask me a couple years ago, “Do you think that Boise state’s EMBA program is any good?” And I was like, let me tell you about it. We have incredible entities like the Idaho Public Policy Institute, and they conduct a survey every year since 2016 that has become so vital to leaders across the state in industry, in government. We’re so grateful for the work that they do.
We’ve incredible innovation like customizable online degrees that have emerged out of CID. [President Tromp] We have really led in graduate education rethinking how we serve our graduate students and really asking questions about what would help them thrive as students at Boise State? And I am so proud of the performance of our students on the national and international stage. We now have our Boise State’s sixth-ever Truman Scholar who just happens to be our ASBSU, president, Cheyon Sheen.
[President Tromp] And a host of new Fulbright Scholars. Our students are changing the world. They’re doing incredible things and we have so much to be proud of. So we want to support them. And for that reason, driven by that desire, I am proud to let you know that we are gonna launch a campaign for Boise State on October 27th, 2023, that will be the largest campaign in Boise State’s history.
[President Tromp] And we know we’ve got the goods to do it because we broke another record this year in philanthropy, the highest total coming into Boise State history ever in the university’s life. I’ll tell you what the campaign pillars are. Student access and success. That’s a primary driver. Relentless faculty innovation. How do we support our faculty?
And third, we recognize that for many people the way they discover Boise State is through our athletics program. So we ask the question, how do we invite people in through that front porch that they come in on so often and help them see the value of what’s happening in other parts of the university as well? So that’s our what’s next initiative that you’ve heard about in athletics. We’re incredibly proud that we had a transformational gift for endowed scholarships of $8 million already in this campaign.
[President Tromp] And our foundation, whose leadership is represented here today, has committed to match gifts to that endowed scholarship. And let me make clear, for those of you who may not understand this, when you endow a scholarship, it keeps yielding resources for students for the life of the money that that’s stored in the bank for. So you’re not just getting money in and spending it, you’re also adding to the pool that will continue to support our students. Our foundation is committed two and a half million dollars to match gifts to those endowed scholarships. Isn’t that incredible?
[President Tromp] The second pillar is around relentless faculty innovation. This year we had a ceremony for the endowed chairs at the university. And the university because we’re so committed to ensuring that our faculty have the resources they need to achieve great excellence in their research, regardless of what their areas are, is committed to offering $2 million to support match for endowed faculty at the institution.
[President Tromp] One of our donors, Dwayne Stickle, has said that he’s been an investor his whole life, but the best investment he ever made was in Julie Oxford when he endowed her professorship.
[President Tromp] His $2 million gift allowed Julie to do research that brought $45 million into the university. How’s that for ROI?
[President Tromp] And what we’re committed to in terms of our student athletes, as you heard me say earlier, is ensuring that we’re supporting the whole student. We’re not an institution that wants to send athletes out on the field of competition and then doesn’t think about them anymore. We’re committed to them earning those degrees, having a healthy and well experience, and thriving as human beings. And I’m very, very proud of their extraordinary success. We rank in the top 5% of all NCAA D1 institutions in terms of academic student success.
[President Tromp] Now, some of you have seen the commercial that we made for Boise State, the ad spot. Because we knew that telling our story was critically important. For students that we were trying to bring here, for their families, for our legislators, for businesses. And sometimes all you get is a few minutes of people’s time. So our communications and marketing team worked for years identifying people that they felt captured our character.
These people who we call our heroes are featured in this ad. There are so many more than the people that you will see in this video, so many more. But this was the place where we began. And I’m gonna tell you just a little bit about each one of them.
You’ll see our colleague, David Estrada, who grew up in Idaho, went to serve in the military, got a fancy PhD, and made a decision even though he’s been one of our greatest grant getters, to come home to Idaho so he could serve people like the young people he grew up with.
You’ll see Kaylee Powell, one of our volleyball players who was diagnosed with cancer and made a decision after she arrived at Boise State to tell only her coach. She continued to go to school, she continued to play, the only time she missed practice was for her own treatments. She told her team at the end of the year after she had had a superb academic performance and done incredible things for her team and now her team does cancer awareness work.
You’ll see Scott Matlock, who was orphaned as a young man and made Boise State Football his family. When he was recruited the news media said, “Why would Boise State recruit a kid like this when they could recruit almost anybody?” Scott finished as one of the top defensive linemen in the country and was recruited to the NFL this last year.
[President Tromp] And finally you’ll see Ally Almaraz. Ally grew up in eastern Idaho, was advised by her counselors to get a cosmetology license. She kept going to school. She spent the last year working with NASA on helping astronauts keep their muscle mass in space and she’s getting ready for a PhD program.
[President Tromp] Pretty amazing, right? And finally, you’ll see Pangaea Finn. Gia came to Boise State when she couldn’t find another home. She completed a bachelor’s degree in physics, math and music’s performance and she’s going to Harvard’s astrophysics program this fall. Pangaea is 17.
[President Tromp] These are the gritty, hardworking, creators, innovators, people who find a way when others don’t see it. And we are so proud to call them our heroes.
[Announcer] Scott Matlock underrated recruit has built himself into one of the best defensive players in the mountain west.
[Narrator] What would you do if you couldn’t fail? Would you see every setback as a catalyst to keep going? This is the innovator’s mindset because innovation demands daring.
[President Tromp] It’s finding thousands of ways that don’t work and the one that changes everything. It’s when your unrelenting spirit sees the world’s needs and says, I will create something better. So what will you do? Will you let your genius run wild? Give yourself the space to be great. Set your sights on something even bigger because we know changing the world doesn’t happen by chance. It comes out of the Blue.
(crowd chanting) (audience applauding)
[President Tromp] I carry that video around on my phone and I show it to people all the time. I always tell the stories and if you watch the video, you can actually click through to their stories and learn more about each of them. People weep, because they are so moved by what this university has done. This really is a pathbreaking innovative university that changes people’s lives and is doing incredible things to change the world.
You’ve just heard a fraction of the ways in which that’s happening today, and I am so honored, to have the privilege of leading and working alongside you. I am so grateful for the incredible work all of you have done in teaching, research, and service to change not only the lives of our students, but the future of the state of Idaho and to impact the world. Thank you, because together we are making history.