Campaign Goal: $9 million
$11 M

Gem of a Professor Shares Knowledge and Passion

Mickey Gunter in the lab.

From a high school drop out to an internationally known mineralogy professor with a mineral named after him, University of Idaho’s Mickey Gunter knows the rewards of hard work and perseverance, and finding his own path. That path now has many branches due to his students’ success under his inspiration.

“By going to college, it allowed me to live a life I never dreamed of living, and to interact with students and help them achieve their goals,” said Gunter. “To inspire these students for careers — not for jobs, but careers they would enjoy as much as I have — is what I focus on.”

Through the mentorship of his graduate studies adviser, Gunter blossomed. It’s a relationship he emulates today with his students.

“The aspect I’ve enjoyed most being here, and will continue to enjoy through the rest of my career — and it’s the reason I don’t leave — is the students,” said Gunter. “Our students have a set of traits which is somewhat hard to find now: common sense, self-reliance and they’re enjoyable to be around. And may of them, like me, are first-generation professionals.”

Because of that connection and dedication to students, Gunter is passionate about giving unique learning opportunities to further student studies at the University of Idaho. He uses financial support from donors to offer local field trips to collect minerals, traveling to the Florida Keys, Galapagos Islands, Antarctica and Alaska, and hosting international conferences.

“We’re very fortunate at the University of Idaho, we’re a small enough institution that we can interact with the students one-on-one, yet we’re a big enough institution where we can play at the international stage,” said Gunter.

That one-on-one experience with students also creates a collegial relationship with colleagues and their lab equipment, in addition to partnerships with area universities and team teaching at the graduate level. He’s also a visiting professor at the University of Vermont and spends time traveling nationally and internationally to other universities. As he spends more time on other campuses, he realizes the benefits and strength of the University of Idaho.

“I realize how fortunate I am here, to have the group of students I can interact with, whether it’s local students, the undergraduates, or the quality of graduate students we can attract,” says Gunter. “We are attracting graduate students from some of the best schools in the nation.”

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