Boise State University

Boise State picks 5 finalists for school’s president — again. Here’s who made the cut.

Bob Kustra retires from BSU and takes a look back on his long career

Boise State University President Bob Kustra retired on Friday, June 29. The Idaho Statesman sat down with him on Wednesday, June 27 to talk about his time as BSU's President.
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Boise State University President Bob Kustra retired on Friday, June 29. The Idaho Statesman sat down with him on Wednesday, June 27 to talk about his time as BSU's President.

After nearly a year and a half of searching, Boise State University is close to finding a new president — again.

On Sunday, the Idaho State Board of Education announced in a news release that the Boise State President Search Screening Committee selected five finalists for the position. Bob Kustra, the university’s previous president, retired at the end of June 2018, and a prior search for his replacement did not yield a successor.

The five finalists are:

Susan E. Borrego, chancellor of the University of Michigan-Flint. Borrego, who will visit BSU on Monday, graduated from Idaho’s Northwest Nazarene University with a bachelor of arts degree and later worked there for seven years.

She went on to earn a master’s degree in social science from Azusa Pacific University and a Ph.D. in education from the Claremont Graduate School.

Borrego has been a strong advocate for science at University of Michigan-Flint, adding science facilities, and establishing a School of Nursing and other science-oriented programs, including green chemistry and physician’s assistant studies.

Andrew Marcus, professor of geography and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon. Marcus will visit Boise on Tuesday.

He holds a bachelor of science degree from Stanford University, a master’s from Arizona State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado. Both advanced degrees are in geography, while Marcus’ bachelor’s studies focused on geology.

According to Marcus’ curriculum vitae, he has conducted or overseen multiple studies in Idaho wilderness areas.

Marcus served as dean of University of Oregon’s College of Arts and Sciences for five years, overseeing hundreds of employees and more than half of the school’s student body.

Marlene Tromp, provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of California-Santa Cruz. Tromp is scheduled to visit Boise State on Wednesday.

Tromp earned a bachelor of arts in English at Creighton University, a master’s in English from the University of Wyoming and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida. She previously held positions as a dean and vice provost at Arizona State University.

In her current position, Tromp has worked to provide additional support for underrepresented students and faculty, as well as for first-generation college students.

Darren M. Dawson, dean of the College of Engineering at Kansas State University. Dawson will be at Boise State on Thursday.

Dawson has an associate degree in math from Macon Junior College, as well as a bachelor of science degree and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech).

His CV states that he worked for the Idaho Board of Education in 1994 and 1995 as a proposal reviewer.

Dawson has an extensive body of work — eight books, more than 500 publications and more than 12,000 citations, according to Boise State’s website.

Edward Seidel, vice president for economic development and innovation for the University of Illinois system. Seidel’s campus visit will take place on Friday.

Seidel has a bachelor of science degree in math and physics from the College of William and Mary, a master’s degree in physics from the University of Pennsylvania, master’s degrees in philosophy and science from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in relativistic astrophysics, also from Yale.

Previously, Seidel has worked as a professor in various science fields and as director for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. In his current position, Seidel works to connect the three campuses of University of Illinois with research and business interests in an effort to improve innovation and the state’s economy.

According to Boise State’s website, open forums will be held each day for students, staff, faculty and alumni to meet the candidates. Faculty and staff can attend a forum from 11 a.m. to noon each day at the Stueckle Sky Center’s Double R Ranch Room; student forums will take place each day from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Alumni and Friends Center, where forums for alumni and community members will take place shortly afterward.

Four of the finalists — Marcus, Tromp, Dawson and Seidel — currently work for schools deemed R1 doctoral research universities in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the highest possible category. The classification identifies institutions by education and research achievements. BSU earned the doctoral research designation in 2016 and is currently an R2-level school.

The Idaho State Board of Education voted unanimously to name Provost Dr. Martin Schimpf as interim president.

What has happened in the Boise State search for a president

This is the second time finalists have been announced in the search for Kustra’s successor.

Idaho education officials announced a pool of five finalists in April of 2018, but later deemed the initial search unsuccessful. Critics worried the firm tasked with finding Kustra’s replacement did not turn up candidates with appropriate credentials.

In June, longtime BSU faculty member Martin Schimpf was named interim president when it became clear a replacement would not be named before Kustra retired.

A second search was launched last fall, led by Storbeck Pimentel & Associates, the same firm seeking the replacement for University of Idaho’s outgoing president, Chuck Staben. Finalists for the U of I job were announced last week.

The current Boise State finalists were chosen from a field of 12 semifinalists interviewed last week, according to the State Board of Education news release. More than 60 candidates applied for the position.

The State Board plans to select a new president in time for the individual to begin work on July 1, 2019.

Find more information on each candidate here.

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Nicole Blanchard is the Idaho Statesman’s outdoors reporter. She grew up in Idaho, graduated from Idaho State University and Northwestern University and frequents the trails around Boise as much as she can.