University of Idaho Earns National Recognition for Economic Engagement

Monday, October 14 2013

MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho is one of just 16 institutions nationwide honored as the inaugural group of Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, or APLU, awarded the designation, which acknowledges universities working with public- and private-sector partners in their states and regions to support economic development.

“This recognition validates the university’s longstanding involvement in helping create economic prosperity across the state of Idaho,” said Gene Merrell, UI’s associate vice president for economic development. “We’ve been doing this since our inception as the state’s land-grant university.”

UI worked with the other Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities over the past year to shape and apply APLU tools that help institutions measure economic engagement and demonstrate innovation and involvement.

In addition to being early adopters of APLU tools, UI stands out for multiple programs that contribute to Idaho’s economy, Merrell said. For example, UI Extension programs provide support for agriculture, nutrition, personal finance and more across the state, and the Office of Community Partnerships helps Idaho communities connect to university research and student projects. The university also facilitates the new Idaho Pathways project, an initiative to link the state’s regional economic development strategies to a statewide vision.

“Being designated an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University recognizes our dedication to the state of Idaho, as well as our commitment to building vibrant, vital programs that serve our region and society as a whole,” said Jack McIver, UI’s vice president for research and economic development.”

UI Interim President Don Burnett lauded the university and fellow APLU honoree Boise State University for their joint commitment to Idaho’s economy.

“It is remarkable that sparsely populated Idaho captured two of those national designations,” he said. “These successes show that collaboration is powerful. It is how the University of Idaho fulfills its distinctive calling. It is how we lead.” 

The APLU will formally recognize the Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities at its annual meeting in November in Washington, D.C. In addition to the University of Idaho, Boise State and neighboring Washington State University, the winners include California State University, Fresno; Northern Illinois University; The Ohio State University; The State University of New York; University of Central Florida; University of Cincinnati; University of Georgia; University of Memphis; University of Michigan; University of Minnesota; University of Missouri; University of Oklahoma; and University of Toledo.

“We’re helping to provide tools to universities to help them become even more economically engaged with their communities, which is a core value of public institutions,” APLU President Peter McPherson said. “Universities are economic engines that not only directly employ people, but also generate research-based innovation and technical expertise that allow businesses to start up, grow, and thrive. This designation recognizes universities that are really stepping up to strengthen their local economy.”

APLU is a research, policy, and advocacy organization representing 219 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and related organizations.  Founded in 1887, APLU is the nation's oldest higher education association with member institutions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories.

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Media Contact: Tara Roberts, University Communications, (208) 885-7725,

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