For the first time in 16 years Boise State University is in the market for a new president following Wednesday's announcement by Dr. Bob Kustra that he will be retiring on June 30.
Mark Johnson sat down with Dr. Kustra this afternoon to talk about his accomplishments, his frustrations and the legacies he will leave at BSU.
"I think the word is bittersweet,” said Kustra a day after the announcement that he would be retiring after 15 years as Boise State’s president.
“I don’t feel I made this decision for myself, I made it for the university. And it’s the best thing for the university, but there’s a lot about it I'm going to miss."
Tears welled up in his eyes when he reflected on the students at Boise State.
"The kids…without a doubt. I feel so invested and we've done so much around here. These kids are great."
The emotion of a decision not made lightly was obvious.
He said he is most proud of the campus massive expansion that took place in the last 15 years.
The addition of a handful of colleges including the College of Innovation and Design, Venture College and the Honors College program that is basically a small liberal arts college in the center of the university.
He gave credit to what he called an amazing collection of faculty members for putting Boise State on the map of higher learning institutions.
“They are an incredible group of educators,” said Kustra, who had a hand in the hiring of most of them.
But, the question that comes up most when it comes to retirement is athletics and the meteoric rise for the centerpiece of Boise State athletics: its football program.
Boise State boasts the winningest program in the country in major college football over the past 20 years.
"To this day, I will meet the parents on Bronco Day in the spring and I'll say, 'How did you get interested in Boise State?' And they'll say, 'Well, we've been watching them on ESPN since the kid was 7 or something like that,” said Kustra.
“The other day I interviewed a baseball coach and said, 'How did you find Boise State?’ And he said, 'A few years ago my 7-year-old wanted Bronco gear for Christmas and we said what’s that all about?' So from that moment on that family was tied into the Broncos. So, there’s just no question that it starts with a strategy of using the recruitment effort on the academic side and spinning it off what you've been doing in football over the years."
And, Boise State has been “spinning it off” better than just about any university of its size for over a decade due in no small part to the job of a president who will say goodbye to the office on June 30, 2018.