Challenging Times Are Times of Great Opportunity for Idaho

Monday, September 27 2010

MOSCOW, Idaho – In a fall address today to the University of Idaho’s statewide community, President Duane Nellis said that while “these certainly are challenging, but promising times,” he has confidence about the future because the state’s land-grant institution is making progress by shaping its own destiny.

Nellis’ address to the university's statewide community comes just six weeks into the 2010-11 academic year. He called on the university’s faculty, staff and students to answer his call for unified action to make the case for the importance of higher education and for the university’s distinctive statewide mission.

“We serve the citizens of all of Idaho … [and] we spur economic growth,” Nellis said. “Our mission of teaching, research and outreach is at the heart of the land-grant charter … [and] we educate teachers, lawyers, scientists, architects, artisans and the first professions of all types.”

He outlined 10 “critical areas for progress,” which include:
• Stabilizing the university’s budget by continuing “to develop better planning methods and more sustainable budgeting systems” to help “increase revenues, maintain quality and build our institution for the future.”

• Educating the state about Senate Joint Resolution 101 – or SJR 101, which will be on the state's ballot this November. The amendment would change the state’s constitution to allow the University of Idaho to charge tuition, as is currently the case at all other public colleges and universities in the state. Those dollars then could directly support classroom instruction. This provides the university with more flexibility in the allocation of funds.

• Preparing for a full three-year law program in Boise, building upon the just-started third-year program. Each program location for the statewide College of Law would draw on distinct, but complementary specialty areas.

• Developing the university’s strategic research areas, and securing more competitive research funding. Nellis said the nearly $96 million in competitive funding secured last year was a 23 percent increase over the previous year. He also discussed growing the research enterprise through realignment of statewide research institutes and centers to better support the institution’s strategic plan and needs.

• Increasing private giving, including corporate, foundation and individual, and seeking more collaborative partnerships. As success to date, Nellis cited the J.R. Simplot Company’s investment in the Parma Research and Extension Center; Wells Fargo’s investment in the College of Business and Economics’ Vandal Innovation and Enterprise Works program; Micron Technology Foundation’s $1.2 million grant to support research into science, technology, engineering and math disciplines; and the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation’s $1 million for scholarships to help Idaho students “go on” to college. More people are giving to the university, Nellis said, even during hard times.

• Enhancing collaboration around the state to benefit Idaho, the region and the nation. Nellis used Idaho Falls’ Center for Advanced Energy Studies as a model partnership between the state’s four-year public institutions and the Idaho National Laboratory. It has leveraged a $1.6 million state investment and brought in more than $25 million in research grants to date.

• Supporting leadership and expansion of the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho – or WWAMI – medical education program. The University of Idaho’s partnership with one of the nation’s top medical schools, the University of Washington, produces physicians who stay in Idaho and help address the state’s critical shortage of medical professionals including doctors.

Nellis said the value of a University of Idaho degree has been reinforced during his statewide travels.

“Business leaders around the state tell me over and over again that they want more of our graduates,” he said. “That’s because how we prepare them for leadership, discovery and engagement – all that is important to businesses and their regional and global competitiveness.”

Nellis looked back to President Abraham Lincoln’s vision for “people’s universities” – the land-grant system – that allow citizens to access higher education and use new knowledge to contribute to and help their states advance and develop. He said in the 21st century, the land-grant system is adapting.

“We've answered our own call to be entrepreneurial, while improving the quality of what we do best – produce successful graduates,” Nellis said.

“Our efforts can continue moving this university forward as a leader in shaping a bright future for the great state of Idaho,” Nellis said.

He also noted other positives for the University of Idaho: it generates 70 percent of the state’s annual research expenditures; produces 55 percent of all degrees in science, technology, engineering and math; 61 percent of the state’s PhDs; has created a sustainable learning environment with 12,302 students statewide; has a nearly $1 billion economic impact on the state, with a 9-to-1 return rate on the state’s investment; has generated roughly $96 million in research expenditures; leads the state in National Merit Scholars, with 81 of the nation’s top high school scholars; and increased retention to 81 percent over the past year.

“We are the place where students find success,” Nellis said. “There is a passion for excellence and a commitment to people that makes the University of Idaho a special place.”

Nellis’s fall address will be available late Monday on the university’s website:
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s land-grant institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year. The University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation classification for high research activity. The student population of 12,302 includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars, who select from more than 130 degree options in the colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Art and Architecture; Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Law; Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Natural Resources; and Science. The university also is charged with the statewide mission for medical education through the WWAMI program. The university combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities and focuses on helping students to succeed and become leaders. It is home to the Vandals, the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions. For more information, visit

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit