First, I want to thank all who have taken the time to share your concerns about my decision to sign a recent letter from Idaho Republicans to new Boise State University President Marlene Tromp. I appreciate, understand and value your opinions as I hope you will do for mine.

With my election to the legislature came the responsibility to represent all the residents of Latah and Benewah counties. This meant, among other responsibilities, ensuring your tax dollars for education were spent appropriately and that both our K-12 districts and University of Idaho were properly funded.

Some have alleged that I do not support diversity and inclusion. Those who know me know that is not true. In fact, the opposite is true as demonstrated by my accomplishments and awards throughout my military service and state service as a Moscow Mentor, CASA Guardian Ad Litem to foster children, a leader of the Idaho Indian Education Committee, and my work with veterans, university students and student athletes.

As a past member of the State Board of Education, my fellow members and I worked closely with the leadership of our colleges and universities to establish a variety of programs to ensure all Idaho students, including underserved students, had opportunities to achieve their academic goals. It was my personal goal, then and now, to ensure proposed programs not only met their stated academic goals but also provided a clear understanding to all involved that the funds spent were those of hard working Idaho taxpayers.

It is important to note that BSU Interim President Martin Schimpf’s letter (for which our letter was a response) fails to address the significant issues our state already faces in education which the State Board of Education challenged our higher education presidents and provosts to improve:

n Go-on rates: Less that half of high school graduates are entering post secondary education.

n Graduation rates: BSU’s 2019 rate was 44 percent compared to UI’s 58 percent.

n Cost: The rapidly rising cost of tuition/fees is pricing many students out of a post-secondary education. During the last five years, BSU’s full time tuition/fees have gone up 17.4 percent.

n Skills gap: Employers cannot find employees with the education and skills to fill their workforce needs.

n Funding: Idaho’s Constitution requires a balanced budget. The legislature is responsible for ensuring state agencies’ funding requests are appropriate and the funds they receive are spent in the best interest of all Idaho citizens.

Of special concern to me, as it should be to Idaho taxpayers, is the costs associated with Dr. Schimpf’s suggestions which addressed the university’s current and future efforts on inclusiveness. For example, many of these costs would add to BSU’s executive/administrative expenses which increased 38.1 percent (2013-2018) while student count increased only 1.4 percent.

In comparison, UI, ISU and LCSC executive/administrative expenses for the same period increased 9.8 percent, 9 percent and 9.9 percent, respectively. Prior to its April meeting, SBOE tasked each college and university to present their budget requests in line with the Board’s Student Success Strategies. It was unfortunate that Dr. Schimpf chose not to share his initiatives at this forum as it would have been the most appropriate opportunity to begin such a discussion with the wide variety of participants present. In 2007, BSU established their Diversity and Inclusion Office. I would have expected that during the last 12 years, with significant increases in state funding and executive/ administrative expenses, many of the initiatives he is referencing would already be funded, in place and functioning.

I regret that Dr. Schimpf did not begin this discussion in the midst of his tenure as BSU’s Provost and not a week or so before his retirement and the arrival of Dr. Tromp, BSU’s new president. Thus, my concern with Dr. Schimpf’s letter was a financial and timing concern.

Bill Goesling, R-Moscow, represents Idaho’s Fifth District in the Idaho legislature.

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