Statesman Article

Bowl win boosts BSU’s profile
Admissions inquiries spike in January

Interest in Boise State University’s academic programs has jumped sharply in the aftermath of the BSU Broncos’ dramatic Fiesta Bowl win.
Online inquiries to the admissions office have increased 135 percent since the Broncos won the bowl game in overtime Jan. 1, BSU President Bob Kustra told faculty and staff Wednesday in his annual spring speech.

The graduate school has been getting 10 times as many applications as it normally does in the first week of January, Kustra added. The applications are coming from all around the country.

“There’s only one reason for this, obviously, and that would be the Fiesta Bowl and the national attention that has been focused on Boise State,” Kustra said.

The Broncos, who finished the season with a 13-0 record, have long been popular in the Boise area. But since their win last week grabbed national attention, Kustra has received hundreds of congratulatory e-mails from associates and strangers around the country and the world.

“We are going to benefit immensely from this experience in terms of media exposure coast to coast,” Kustra said. “Without question, the success of this football program has elevated Boise State to the national stage.”

Kustra’s spring speech is an annual event presented in advance of the spring semester, which starts Tuesday.

Long before the Fiesta Bowl win, BSU was adding academic programs, planning new construction and mapping out a strategy for becoming what Kustra likes to call a “metropolitan research university of distinction.”

It’s obvious to those who work on campus that things at BSU are changing, said Leslie McFarlane, business manager for university housing. Among other things, student housing is full, with another residence planned.

“We have all new management in my department, and we’re creating new mission statements,” McFarlane said. The Fiesta Bowl win might take this growth to new levels. On Wednesday, Kustra said the image of the team, the nature of its strategic win and the attention the drama garnered would help university officials reach their goals.

This year is BSU’s 75th anniversary, and officials are gearing up for a fundraising campaign aimed at raising $200 million to $300 million.

The public campaign will not get under way for months, but Kustra already is raising money.

The university will announce on Jan. 19 details of the largest donation BSU has ever received — a donation that was in the works before the Fiesta Bowl victory, Kustra said.

Now “there is significant potential to engage donors beyond what we thought prior to this grand win,” he said.

Kustra talked about the university’s plans for its interactive learning center, a $14 million high-tech teaching building scheduled to open this summer. It is one of many new projects planned for the campus, including a stadium expansion that will hold BSU’s first faculty club.

But most of his speech was devoted to the rewards Boise State expects to garner from the Broncos’ performance. With more applicants, BSU will be able to be more selective in choosing students — and subsequently to increase the quality of academic programs, he said.

Kustra added that many of the people who sent congratulations also commented on the humility and civility of the BSU football players and coaches.

“I … saw an amazing team never give up,” Kustra quoted from a former Oklahoma fan’s letter. “If college football means anything in an academic context, what more can we teach?”

An Ohio State fan wrote: “If you could just bottle up what your university hasn’t distributed, we could use it out here in the rest of the USA. What will these young ladies and gentlemen that you are teaching become? I can’t wait to see.”

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