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

Antibiotics are ubiquitous in modern human life. Along with their well-known medical applications, they also are routinely used in agriculture, including our increasingly industrial production of meat.

But as resistant strains of bacteria continue to emerge, health authorities around the world are growing alarmed at the increasing impotence of antibiotics to fight disease. In fact, they worry we are on the verge of a total breakdown in the overall usefulness of these drugs. It’s a scenario of horrifying scope to those who understand the implications for human health.

Generations of western leaders have puzzled over how to manage their nation’s relationship with Russia – and headlines in recent months, especially from Ukraine, have only deepened this long-standing challenge.

But Daniel Treisman, in his book "The Return: From Gorbachev to Medvedev," argues that western notions about Russia as an antagonistic and autocratic behemoth are, at best, oversimplified.

This Reader's Corner interview was first broadcast in January, 2014

Pick up a newspaper or turn on the radio, and it’s likely you’ll learn about the latest fluctuation in world financial markets, or about a protest or uprising tied in some way to religion. 

Businesses seeking to increase productivity, athletes striving to improve their performance, and couples intent on strengthening their relationship share this in common: To get what they’re after, they’ll need more than motivation. They’ll need commitment.

Heidi Reeder is an expert on how commitment enables organizations and individuals to reach their goals. Her new book, "Commit to Win," unpacks 40 years of research by psychologists and economists to bust the many myths about commitment and explain why it’s important.

This interview was originally broadcast in December, 2013:

This is the second part of an interview with Daniel James Brown, Author of "The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics"

This interview for Reader's Corner was originally broadcast in December of 2013:

In the summer of 1936, in the midst of the Great Depression, the world was transfixed by the grandeur of the Olympic Games in Berlin, and by a determined group of young Americans who were giving their all to bring home the gold.

In front of high-ranking Nazi officials, including Adolf Hitler, they overcame impossible odds to snatch victory from both the German and Italian crews in the Games’ signature rowing event.

It took Edward Curtis just a few years after arriving in the small town of Seattle in 1887 to establish a reputation as one of its finest portrait photographers. Uneducated and self-taught, he quickly became one of the most respected lensmen in America and was summoned to capture images of President Theodore Roosevelt and even the president’s daughter’s wedding.

Ask just about anyone their opinion about politics and the federal government and two words you are likely to hear in response are: dysfunction and gridlock.    

But Ira Shapiro, knows firsthand of an era not all that long ago when big personalities in the U.S. Senate worked together to solve big problems.

In May, Anthony Doerr visited Reader's Corner to talk about his new novel, "All the Light We Cannot See." Ten years in the writing, the book tells the stories of a blind French girl and a German boy during World War II and how their lives eventually intertwine.

"This program is an encore and was originally broadcast in November of 2013"

“Iron Mike” Webster was one of the most revered and beloved Pittsburgh Steelers of all time. The Hall of Fame center was a tough, hardworking and disciplined player who gave everything he had to football.

But after retiring from the NFL in 1990, he suffered a severe decline in both physical and mental health. When he died 12 years later at age 50, his body made one of its most significant contributions to the sport, and to the fellow players he loved.

The office of the President of the United States is among the most highly visible institutions anywhere in the world. The person who occupies the office is subject to intense scrutiny – and while some of that is negative, the president oftentimes also serves as a symbol of the hopes, dreams and aspirations of a diverse American citizenry.

But what happens when there is a disconnect between the high expectations Americans have for what their president can accomplish, and the reality of how the office functions in today’s Washington?

For John Thavis, the timing couldn’t have been better. His book, “The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church,” was released in February 2013, just as Pope Benedict XVI announced he would be the first pope in 600 years to resign.

It was a stroke of luck that put his book – the culmination of nearly 30 years as a journalist covering the Vatican – in exactly the right place at the right time.

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.

KBSX 91.5 recently broadcast on an episode of Reader's Corner with Author Amanda Ripley. The program mentioned her upcoming presentation at Boise State University. The event will take place Wednesday, April 30 at 7 p.m. at Taco Bell Arena at Boise State University. 

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Earth Day 2014 is Tuesday, and celebrations are planned across our nation and around the world, including here at Boise State. Forty-four years after it was first launched, this annual event continues to evolve, attract new participants and raise awareness about environmental issues. What many may not realize is that Earth Day also played a major role in the birth of the modern environmental movement.  

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 crewmembers 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.

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.

Stories about the heroics of World War II are deeply embedded in our popular culture. But the Hollywood storyline seldom reflects on the struggles of those left to survive amid the ruins of what was likely the most destructive war in human history.

In his new book “Year Zero: A History of 1945,” Ian Buruma examines the desperation and upheaval left in the wake of the war’s near complete rending of society’s fabric across large swaths of Europe and Asia.

In 1886, William Temple Hornaday set out for the untamed West to collect American bison specimens for the U.S. National Museum. Just a few years earlier the bison herds of North America had been estimated in the millions.

But Hornaday had a hunch that had changed. He was right. The taxidermist was barely able to find enough specimens to preserve for the museum, and the rapid slaughter of America’s bison herds would drive him try to fight for their survival and that of other wildlife for the rest of his life.

Research shows that kids who read well do better in school and have a distinct advantage in developing communication and logical thinking skills. Avid readers also tend to be more engaged in the world around them.

But how do you get young people to want to read? Today’s guest, Jeffrey Wilhelm, believes that kids and adolescents should be allowed to choose at least some of the books they read for school, so that their reading adds meaning to their lives.

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