Kustra Optimistic In Face Of State Budget Cuts

Aug 22, 2012

Boise State President Bob Kustra says times are changing for colleges and universities, including his own.  In his tenth annual State of the University Address, Kustra reflected on recent funding cuts, and how the university has responded.  

Credit Boise State University

He told a room full of faculty and staff that he’s as challenged and scared as they are. “These are challenging times, they’re scary times, there’s no question about it.” 

He says the landscape of the public university is still changing, four years after the Great Recession hit in 2008. “And all the hopes and aspirations and the dreams we had, all the things we could do because we had the support of the state appropriation, all of those things had to be re-examined.”

Boise State gets just 18 percent of its budget from state dollars.  That compares to 43 percent back in 1997.  Kustra says the University now relies more on student fees, federal grants, and private gifts. This year, in fact, marks the first time tuition and fees will generate more revenue for the school than state dollars. “Okay we’re an 18 percent university.  And when your only an 18 percent university, we’ve got to find another way, we’ve got to build another revenue model,” says Kustra.

That model includes new partnerships with industry and the private sector.  Kustra also wants to incorporate more technology in and out of the classroom.  That includes more online class offerings.  Boise State offers more than 1,000 courses online.  Twenty six percent of students take one or more online class each semester.

Boise State faculty welcomed the president's speech, many said his ideas are exciting.  Amy Moll is the Dean of the College of Engineering.  She says doing more with less money is never easy. “I think it’s always a challenge, it’s real life, it’s how do we continue to serve our students, we have the challenge of how do we just offer enough seats, enough spots in the classroom, we have to look at ways we provide that learning opportunity and do it with a little less money,” Moll says.

She likes that Kustra focused on student learning and promoting critical thinking in the classroom.

Mark Wheeler is the Dean of Extended Studies. “I think he talked about a wide range of challenges and how he’s confident the University will confront them and make a lot of progress in the years ahead.”

One Dean says the speech was a “call to action” and Kustra has big ideas that are exciting to faculty and staff.

Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio