Dr. Robert Walter Kustra was the sixth president of Boise State University (2003-2018).
Kustra earned degrees from Benedictine College and Southern Illinois University, and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He held faculty positions at Northwestern University, the University of Illinois-Chicago, Loyola University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois-Springfield. Kustra served 10 years in the Illinois Legislature, then as Illinois Lieutenant Governor. After being an Illinois politician, he became president of Eastern Kentucky University (1998-2001).
Arriving in 2003, Dr. Kustra led a transformation that turned Boise State into a metropolitan research university of distinction. There was an increase in the number of full-time and out-of-state students, a focus on maintaining a vibrant undergraduate experience, and growth in graduate degrees offered. In 2016, Boise State was officially designated a Carnegie doctoral research university — a goal of Dr. Kustra’s since he started.
Along with academics, Kustra expanded the physical campus. With nearly $400 million in capital development, the university added state-of-the art multidisciplinary buildings, high-tech classrooms, clean rooms and laboratories, and facilities for the arts, business and economics, engineering, science, public policy, and more. Buildings constructed include Keiser and Taylor Halls, Caven-Williams Sports Complex, Interactive Learning Center, Micron Business and Economics Building, Gene Bleymeier Football Center, Alumni and Friends Center, Honors College and Sawtooth Hall, and the Center for Fine Arts.
Unique to university presidents, Kustra hosted Reader’s Corner, a weekly radio show on Boise State’s NPR station. Totaling more than 500 episodes, some of the guests included Erik Larson, Ann Patchett, David Brooks, and Candice Millard; Pulitzer Prize winners Anthony Doerr, Elizabeth Kolbert, Tracy Kidder, and E.O. Wilson; National Book Award winners Timothy Egan and Nathaniel Philbrick; and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz.