Campus news items: Boise State fundraising reaches record $58.5 million

Boise State University’s latest record fundraising haul totaled $58.5 million.

Boise State released some additional information on the 2022-23 fundraising last week.

Among the highlights, according to a Boise State news release:

  • An anonymous donor contributed $8 million to endowed scholarships. It’s the largest donation of its kind in Boise State history.
  • More than 5,700 donors gave a total of $17 million for endowed and immediate-use scholarships. In 2022-23, Boise State awarded more than $14.3 million in scholarships, with 84% going to Idaho students.
  • Ted Obenchain, a 1957 Boise State graduate, donated $1.5 million to create an endowed chair in developmental biology.
  • The Bob Miller family committed $5 million for Boise State football and basketball facilities. All told, the athletics department received seven gifts exceeding $1 million.
  • The J.R. Simplot Co. contributed $300,000 to help launch Boise State’s Institute for Invasive Cybersecurity endowment.

“Boise State alumni and friends again have proven their relentless passion for innovation and education in Idaho,” said Matthew Ewing, vice president for university advancement. “We’re grateful for another year of high-impact philanthropy. Together, we are committed to empowering the next generation of Broncos as they shape the future of our state and the world.”

The $58.5 million reflects a $2 million increase from the previous year’s donations, a short-lived university record.

U of I program offers free online training to K-12 staff

In September, K-12 staffers will be able to take free online training, designed to help them better support students.

Registration is now open for the three training programs — focused on behavioral health, school nursing and substance use prevention and treatment.

Project ECHO — an extension of the University of Idaho’s WWAMI medical education program. — will offer the training programs.

“Our initial K-12 Education series will place a powerful tool in the hands of our educators and school administrators, giving them access to the latest information and research from experts in youth behavioral health, school nursing and substance use prevention and treatment,” said Eric Studebaker, director of ECHO, or Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes.

Optum Idaho has contributed $150,000 to fund the training.

U of I researchers: Bear tracks can bear DNA

It sounds a little like forensic science gone wild.

University of Idaho researcher Jennifer Adams on the shorefast sea ice north of Utqiagvik, Alaska. (Photo provided by University of Idaho.)

University of Idaho researchers are working on a project in Alaska — looking to see if traces of DNA can be used not to identify criminals, but to identify polar bears.

When polar bears make tracks in the snow, they leave behind skin cells containing their DNA. And those small samples could allow researchers to monitor bears without tranquilizing and handling them, or using helicopters to buzz them.

Working with the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the researchers collected 15 samples from polar bear tracks. Eleven of the samples contained DNA — a success rate that suggests the process could provide an inexpensive and non-invasive method of studying the wild bears.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time that polar bears, or any other species, have been individually identified and sexed using environmental DNA collected from snow,” U of I researcher Jennifer Adams said in a news release.

NIC, U of I back aerospace manufacturing proposal

North Idaho College and the University of Idaho have lent their support to a proposed aerospace manufacturing hub.

A consortium of business and education groups is seeking a federal grant for the proposed American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center. The group wants to repurpose a 386,000-square-foot manufacturing plant next to the Spokane, Wash., airport.

Spokane-based Gonzaga University would lead the education consortium, which includes two- and four-year schools in Washington and Idaho.

In a news release, NIC President Nick Swayne said the partnership would provide new opportunities for students, and foster economic development in the region. “This is a big deal for NIC to participate alongside nine other regional higher ed institutions in partnership with leaders in industry, research, and workforce.”

The group is applying for a U.S. Economic Development Administration “Tech Hub” grant. If the group clears both phases of the application process, it could receive $65 million.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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