Bob Kustra

President of Boise State University

Bob Kustra is the host of Reader's Corner a weekly radio show that features lively conversations with some of the nation’s leading authors about issues and ideas that matter today.

Dr. Bob Kustra is president of Boise State University, the largest public university in Idaho, with an enrollment of nearly 20,000 students served by 2,800 faculty and staff.

Now in his ninth year, he leads the university in a time of dynamic growth in student enrollment, new construction, fundraising and research. Long heralded for its devotion to classroom teaching, Boise State has expanded its mission to become an emerging metropolitan research university of distinction..

With a long and distinguished career in public service in Illinois, Dr. Kustra served two terms as lieutenant governor, following 10 years in the legislature. He also chaired the Illinois Board of Higher Education, responsible for funding and oversight of the state’s nine public universities. Dr. Kustra’s background in radio includes four years as host of a talk show on WLS-AM in Chicago.

Prior to joining Boise State, Dr. Kustra served as president of Eastern Kentucky University and the Midwestern Higher Education Commission. He has held faculty positions at the University of Illinois-Springfield, Loyola University of Chicago, the University of Illinois-Chicago, and Northwestern University.

Ways To Connect

Bethine Church was widow of Senator Frank Church and would have turned 91 on Feb. 19 2014, she died on Dec. 21, 2013 at her home in Boise. Bethine was one of Idaho’s sweethearts and a political powerhouse in her own right. Her contributions to Idaho and its institutions are numerous and include being the founder and chair of The Frank Church Institute at Boise State University.

Shortly after the launch of this weekly radio show in 2003, Bethine Church was a guest and we spoke about her new memoir, “A Lifelong Affair: My Passion for People and Politics.” 

Preparing students to excel in a fast-changing world is a concern for many nations.  Some countries, including our own, have implemented a variety of education reforms over recent decades, only to see piddling results. Others, including  Finland, South Korea and Poland, have realized major gains.

Each day, our lives are increasingly driven by the unseen force of data that is harnessed, organized and focused by complex sets of mathematical formulas known as algorithms. These Information Age tools play a huge role in everything from the safety and efficiency of our cars, to the kind of music we hear on the radio, to the split-second trading on Wall Street that drives our economy.

During World War II, a small group of British and American scientists worked tirelessly to defeat the German U-boats that were wreaking havoc on allied commerce. Armed with a dogged determination and a fair amount of mathematics, physics and probability theory, they forged the new field of operational research and forever changed how wars were fought and won.

In November of 1942, a U.S. cargo plane on a routine flight crashed into the Greenland ice cap, setting in motion an extraordinary chain of events. Four days after the crash, a B-17 searching for the missing cargo plane also went down in a blinding storm.

All nine crew members survived the crash, and an amphibious Grumman Duck was sent on a daring rescue mission to bring them home. After picking up one member of the B-17 crew, the rescuers of this third flight flew into a severe storm and vanished.

As the former Rome bureau chief for Catholic News Service, few understand the inner workings of the seat of Roman Catholicism better than John Thavis. His book reveals that Vatican City’s public image of power, hierarchical authority and reverence for the past often masks a disorganized, inept and uncertain organizational culture.

We continue the discussion with Scott W. Berg about his book 38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier’s End.  The book is now out in paperback.

The Dakota War of 1862 and its aftermath would likely be among the most remembered stories of American frontier expansion in the 19th Century if not for one thing: The American Civil War, which was happening at the same time. As a result, the extraordinary story of the rebellion by Little Crow and his Dakota followers is largely overshadowed in history books and the American psyche by accounts of the brutal bloodletting on eastern battlefields called Antietam, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg.

We all know we’re in wild animal habitat when we enter the campground. Leave food unattended and you might find yourself in a battle with a bear. But what if the battleground was your own backyard?

History books are full of stories about the dangers and deprivations endured by soldiers who fought in the Civil War. What may be less well known are the challenges faced by journalists of the day who risked everything to get to the front lines of battle.

Many of us can probably recall maps of the solar system from our school days that showed nine planets, from Mercury to Pluto, orbiting around the sun. All that changed in 2006, when the International Astronomical Association voted to demote Pluto from a real planet to the newly coined category of “dwarf planet,” a move that stirred controversy around the world.

China has long been described as “inscrutable” – a country that is both exotic and difficult to understand. Today, the world’s most populous nation is a major player on the international stage. Yet, at times, China’s actions continue to baffle outsiders unfamiliar with the country’s long and rich history and its impact on all aspects of Chinese life.

National Book Award-winner and Author of "Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution"

Author of "Banzai Babe Ruth: Baseball, Espionage and Assassination During the 1934 Tour of Japan"

Author of "Agent Garbo: The Brilliant, Eccentric Secret Agent who Tricked Hitler and Saved D-Day"

Author of "Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World"

Author of "Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest"

Author of " The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches From the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam"

Author of "Blackett's War: The Men Who Defeated the Nazi U-Boats and Brought Science to the Art of Warfare"

Author of "China in the 21st Century"

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