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'We... can do even better': Boise State president gives State of the University address

The event was part of kickoff for the 2022-23 academic year. This will be Dr. Marlene Tromp's fourth year as Boise State University president.

BOISE, Idaho — The fourth State of the University address from Boise State University President Dr. Marlene Tromp was her first on the Morrison Center stage since 2019, shortly after she became president of Idaho's largest university. In that setting Wednesday morning, Tromp began by noting the challenges the university, the nation and the world have faced the past few years: the "Great Resignation" affecting staffing for businesses and organizations of all sizes, political polarization and COVID, which prompted her 2020 address to be held remotely and the 2021 address to be held outdoors, at Albertsons Stadium.

"I want to honor and acknowledge the extraordinary courage and strength it has taken for our community to navigate these choppy and often treacherous waters. In spite of those challenges, we still completed our mission and saw a record number of graduates," Dr. Tromp said. "We can do even more -- we, collectively, and I, can do even better."

Boise State certainly will face challenges in the days and years ahead, Tromp said, but will move forward with a "clear-eyed focus" on the development of students, the development of new knowledge and the development of relationships.

"We need to engage people and talk with them, teach them and learn from them," Tromp said, addressing the current "period of deep polarization and skepticism."

A lot of skepticism, Dr. Tromp said, is directed at public education and higher education itself.

"We have to tell the story of what's happening on our campuses so people can get another perspective so that they're not concerned that higher education isn't here for them, but is about service to them," Tromp said as she introduced a video touting the affordability, potential for higher incomes and opportunities Boise State and Idaho's other public colleges and universities offer individuals and the state as a whole. "It affects all of us when people achieve that educational dream."

To help address the nation's larger political and cultural divides, the university's Institute for the Advancement of American Values, with philanthropist Greg Carr, has launched a new project called Idaho Listens, Dr. Tromp announced.

"There's a whole body of scholarship on listening, and what it teaches us is that when we are able to truly listen to one another, it begins to make new things possible," Tromp said. "There's fascinating research on this. If you take a research team and you make that research team incredibly diverse, in every conceivable way -- people from different parts of the world, people from different disciplines, people from different backgrounds -- the more diverse that team, the more impactful their outcomes and the more citations (their studies) get. The reason is they challenge each other's thinking... If we can learn from and listen to each other, we will become better."

Research in the past year set a new record for Boise State -- $68 million. Tromp said the increased research opportunities provide students with experiences and employable skills, and empower Idaho's rural communities and advance the state and region.

Tromp said early estimates show enrollment for first-year students from Idaho may increase 20 percent for the fall semester, which begins August 22. Actual enrollment figures come out some time after the first week of the semester.

Dr. Tromp shared the stage with several faculty and administration leaders in new roles at Boise State. Some talked about future plans; some just wanted to say they're happy to join the community.

Dr. Leslie Durham has been at Boise State for 20 years, but is now in her first year as permanent dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. She said the C.A.S. is preparing to launch a new School of the Environment, reimagine the Bronco Gap Year, explore the first-year experience and publicly open the Keith and Catherine Stein Luminary, which Dr. Tromp announced in her 2021 State of the University address.

"I can't wait to see what we get to do in the semester ahead and I look forward to working with you," Durham said.

Dr. Shawn Benner, the new dean of the College of Innovation and Design, said his division has started an Innovation Incubator on the second floor of the Albertsons Library. The space can be used for events, strategic planning retreats and informal faculty and staff gatherings. Remodeling of the space will take about a year, Benner said, but the incubator is already open for business.

The new dean of Albertsons Library, Dr. Tod Colegrove, comes to Boise State from the University of Nevada, Reno.

"There is no more thrilling place to be than right here, right now on this campus," Colegrove said. "We bring together literally tens of thousands of the best, the brightest and the scrappiest from across Idaho and around the world centered around a culture of innovation."

Dr. James Satterfield, the new dean of the College of Education, said he traveled 2,258 miles to Boise State, "and it was worth every mile."

The address was livestreamed and a recording is available on KTVB.COM, the KTVB mobile app and the KTVB YouTube channel.

The State of the University is one of the events kicking off the new academic year. Classes at Boise State begin Monday, August 22.

Previous State of the University addresses by Dr. Tromp may be viewed here.

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