Boise State University Alumni Association Celebrates 50 Years of Creating Legacies
The 1960s were a time of change for not only the country, but also on campus. Boise Junior College became Boise College, conferring four-year baccalaureate degrees. And in May of 1967, thanks to the dedication of young alumni and members of the student body, the new Boise College Alumni Association was created, helping secure accreditation for full university status, and continuing to serve alumni members for half a century.
And as Boise State University Alumni Association celebrates this milestone, it honors those who created the legacies that span 50 years, while looking forward to the future of connecting alumni and friends, supporting students through scholarships and programs, and advocating on behalf of the university and higher education in Idaho.
More than 50 years ago, when Boise Junior College leadership were applying for accreditation to become a four-year institution, one requirement was to have an alumni association, says Vivian Klein, who was hired as the alumni secretary at the time.
Association founding members, Bill Ilett, ’67, student body president, along with then senior class president Jim Cockrell, ’67, and another 10 founding members were the driving force to organize the alumni association and meet the accreditation requirements. Thomas L. Rhodes, ’55, was elected the first president.
“When I accepted the job, I was handed a shoebox of index cards with names of alumni,” Klein says, referring to the antiquated records system she eventually updated. At the time, about 1,500 students attended classes on campus, compared to the nearly 24,000 today.
A lot has changed at Boise State since the founding of the alumni association, but the mission of the association remains the same — to celebrate and engage alumni and friends of the university and build lifelong relationships that support the future of the university.
Those lifelong relationships are evident today with a membership of more than 4,300, as well as the longtime and continued engagement from charter members.
Take, for example, David Croft, ’67, who served as alumni board president during the association’s infancy, and continues to be active in the association.
The deep affinity many have with the university is a reflection of the education they received while attending classes here, said Croft.
“Boise State provided me with an opportunity to receive a great education, and I’m very grateful for that, and have felt the obligation to give back,” he said.
Through the years the association has supported many areas of growth for the university. From the construction of the Taco Bell Arena (previously the Pavilion) to the founding of the Keith Stein Blue Thunder Marching Band, the association is proud to support Boise State.
The association has seen significant growth over its 50 years — a new identity as Boise State University, an Alumni and Friends Center which opened in 2016, and a burgeoning international membership consisting of several chapters — but the objectives are consistent with the vision of the founding members — connect, support, and advocate on behalf of alumni and the university.
Dyke Nally, ’69, who served as the association’s executive director for 21-years, credits much of the growth of the university over the years to the leadership of the six presidents he served under. Nally also acknowledges the support of alumni and friends who have partnered with leadership and applied their resources toward the growth of the university.
“The privilege to work with first-class university presidents, faculty, staff and students has been so rewarding in my career,” Nally said. “I’m looking forward to the university continuing to grow and excel as the fine research university it has become, and hopefully receive adequate funding from the state to support its mission and continued growth.”
To learn more about the alumni association 50-year celebration, including stories of alumni, events, and ways to engage in the milestone, visit alumni.boisestate.edu/50-years.