After almost 15 years at the helm of Boise State University, President Bob Kustra announced his retirement from the office effective June 30.
Kustra joined Boise State in 2003 and oversaw considerable growth at the school, helping to accelerate its transformation from a one-time commuter college into a university focused on research, with a huge expansion of undergraduate and graduate programs and multi-disciplinary programs like the College of Innovation and Design.
He benefited from rising enrollment, a growth in the out-of-state student body, and - on the football side - a come-from-behind Fiesta Bowl win in overtime in 2007, along with seven other bowl wins during that time.
Kustra says it feels like a good moment to step down, though he wants to be involved in some capacity with Boise State’s Department of Public Policy and Administration.
“I think every organization deserves the opportunity every so many years for new leadership – people with new ideas, people who come from someplace else, people who have different agendas – and 15 years, I thought, was the perfect point where you just say it’s time,” he says.
Presidents of both Idaho State University and Lewis Clark State College will step down in the spring as well. University of Idaho President Chuck Staben recently made the finalist pool to lead University of New Mexico, but wasn't ultimately chosen. Staben wouldn't tell the Moscow-Pullman Daily News whether he has applied for other jobs during an interview last week.
During Kustra's tenure, the campus near downtown Boise expanded considerably, with the recent additions of the Honors College, Alumni and Friends Center, and the forthcoming Center for Fine Arts.
Some of those additions are among the $450 million capital campaign that stand out among the 74-year-old’s list of accomplishments.
He boosted fundraising efforts, doubled the university foundation’s assets to $180 million and shifted an on-campus culture with an expansion of discipline-specific dorms and student organizations.
“It’s really been the highlight of my entire career. I’ve had a great career in academic life, in political life – 18 years in public office. Nothing comes close.”
Kustra also drew criticism – saying in 2010 that he and his wife wouldn’t travel to Moscow for the final football game between Boise State and U of I, calling the fan culture “nasty” and “inebriated”.
Kustra also sparred with Congressman Raul Labrador earlier this year over his response to white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Virginia.
He has hosted a weekly program on Boise State Public Radio called Reader's Corner, which he intends to continue.
Prior to arriving at Boise State, Kustra had a stint as president of Eastern Kentucky University and held faculty positions at several Midwestern universities.
He also served several terms in the Illinois legislature and two terms as the state’s lieutenant governor.
You can find Tom Michael’s extended interview with Kustra here.
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