Robert W. Kustra

President at: Boise State University


Dr. Bob Kustra has led a transformation that has turned Boise State into a metropolitan research university of distinction. In 2016, Boise State was officially designated a Carnegie doctoral research university — a goal of Dr. Kustra’s since he was appointed president in 2003.

Harnessing the creativity and can-do attitude that Boise State famously exhibited in three Fiesta Bowl wins, Dr. Kustra continues to challenge our campus community to reimagine and reinvent the higher education experience to better prepare our students to take their place in the workplace of today and tomorrow.  The latest example is the College of Innovation and Design, providing new cross-disciplinary majors and courses designed to build the skills employers demand, while incubating the most innovative and exciting ideas facing Boise State and higher education today.

The campus community has changed dramatically with increases in the number of full time students, the academic profile of incoming students, the number of out-of-state students, and a focus on maintaining a vibrant undergraduate atmosphere and experience.  Boise State now confers more than 46 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded by Idaho public colleges and universities and has also more than doubled its graduate offerings.  It is now the largest graduate college in Idaho.

Boise State’s campus has expanded considerably in Dr. Kustra’s tenure. After nearly $400 million in capital development, the university now boasts state-of-the art multidisciplinary buildings, high-tech classrooms, clean rooms and laboratories, and cutting-edge facilities for the arts, business and economics, engineering, science, public policy and more.  The University recently broke ground on an innovative and iconic Center for Fine Arts and planning is underway for the Micron Center for Materials Research, enabled by a $25 million donation from the Micron Foundation.

Before coming to Idaho, Dr. Kustra had a long and distinguished career in public service in Illinois, serving two terms as lieutenant governor, and 10 years in the Illinois legislature, where he served in leadership. He chaired the Illinois Board of Higher Education, responsible for funding and oversight of the state’s nine public universities.

He served as president of the Midwestern Higher Education Commission and president of Eastern Kentucky University. He has held faculty positions at Northwestern University, the University of Illinois-Chicago, Loyola University of Chicago and the University of Illinois- Springfield.

Each week, Dr. Kustra features lively conversations with some of the nation’s leading fiction and non-fiction authors on his radio show, Reader’s Corner, which airs weekly on Boise State’s NPR station.

Dr. Kustra holds degrees from Benedictine College and Southern Illinois University, and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  He and his wife, Kathy, have two grown children, four grandchildren, and treasure the memory of their son, Steve.