President's Office

Administration Building
Room 105
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3151
Moscow, ID 83844-3151
Phone: (208) 885-6365

Friday Letter Office of the President

The Friday Letter

The Friday Letter is a weekly e-newsletter from the President and focuses on various topics, news, features and announcements. It is sent to faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents and other friends of the University of Idaho.

If you would like to subscribe to receive The Friday Letter, please contact University Communications at (208) 885-6291 or

  • Current Issue

    September 12, 2014

    Dear Friends,

    Among the many activities with which we welcome students to the University of Idaho, an event coming up next week stands out as particularly important.

    “I Got Your Back” Campus Safety Week begins Monday. This is my first opportunity to attend this annual event, and I look forward to it with interest and a sense of urgency.

    The keynote event of this year’s Campus Safety Week is a presentation by Dr. Keith Edwards, the founder of Men Ending Rape, who will challenge Vandal men to actively work toward ending campus rape and encourage all our students, staff and faculty to stand together as we confront this societal issue.

    This is a topic of particular importance to me. Last year, I was challenged and inspired by educator Jackson Katz’ TED Talk, which frames violence against women, children and other men as a men’s issue — something all men must address, but particularly those in leadership positions. Katz specifically called out university presidents as people who can set priorities at their institutions and educate the young people they influence.

    In a recent Friday Letter I wrote that the university sets the bar high for our students academically. We set it high for them behaviorally as well.

    I want every student at the University of Idaho, but especially those who identify themselves as men, to consider and discuss what it means to be a “good man.” Then, I want them to reach for those ideals.

    I believe good men must think carefully about their behaviors and the effects they have on those around them. Part of the university experience is learning to exercise values such as integrity, compassion and personal responsibility.

    Students also must take responsibility for each other, caring for each other and directing each other to better paths when the need arises. The slogan “I Got Your Back” reminds students that every Vandal is part of a community, and programs like Vandal Green Dot call on all Vandals to make health and safety a community responsibility.

    The University of Idaho offers students help in achieving these goals. In recent years, the university has implemented a number of new programs and bolstered ongoing programs to help students place a high value on physical, mental and emotional safety and wellbeing, both for themselves and for others.

    Every new student must complete the “Think About It” online safety course and participate in a safety seminar during orientation. All new fraternity and sorority members participate in a Greek-specific safety program. We’ve recently begun offering Mental Health First Aid training, established a suicide prevention program and expanded alcohol education programs. We require Green Dot training for student athletes and other campus leaders so they can serve as role models for their peers.

    Campus Safety Week opens the door for every person at the University of Idaho to learn about and engage with the university’s programs and resources that seek to end violence, abuse, and risky behaviors. I encourage all of you who will be on campus next week to take advantage of this opportunity. The Campus Safety Week website is also a great resource for those of you located outside of Moscow — please check it out to learn more.


    Chuck Staben

    Here's the Latest News from the University of Idaho

    Inspiring Futures The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust continues their longtime support of UI’s research programs by recently funding two scientific equipment purchases totaling over $380,000. The “Big-STEM” computer is one of the most powerful computers of its kind in the United States. “Basically, Big-STEM means we are solving problems that pretty much no one else is working on,” says computer science professor Jim Alves-Foss.
    A second award assisted with the purchase of a dynamic imaging system. “Whether studying a disease process in virology or the transfer of plasmids in a growing colony of microorganisms, the dynamic imaging system will not just tell us what happens over time, but when, how and where it happened,” says biology professor Deborah Stenkamp. Over the past three decades, Murdock has provided more than $5 million for research equipment at the University of Idaho. For more information on supporting UI research programs, contact Debbie Hornbuckle at (208) 885-0533 or
  • September 5, 2014

    September 5, 2014

    Dear Friends,

    The University of Idaho provides abundant opportunities for students to shine. Some stand out in academics, earning awards for their classwork and promoting their fields of study through clubs and honor societies. Some excel in service, participating in Alternative Service Breaks or volunteering with campus and community organizations. Others find their niches in the arts, athletics, or living-group activities. Many students lead.

    A few among our student body rise to lead their peers in student government. For generations, presidents of the Associated Students of the University of Idaho (ASUI), Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) and the Student Bar Association have honed their leadership skills while encouraging and inspiring their fellow students.

    Our current student leaders — Nate Fisher of ASUI, Anthony St. Clair of GPSA, and Nii-Amaa Ollennu of the Student Bar — are smart, gracious and professional young men who are eager to serve in the coming year. Today, please take the opportunity to meet Fisher in the interview below and gain insight into the mind of a student leader.

    But first, I’d like to reflect on the role of ASUI President. For 110 years of the University’s 125-year history, ASUI presidents have supported student activities and represented the student voice.

    From the students of 1904 who formed ASUI to help each student feel “directly concerned with all of the student enterprises,” to modern-day presidents like Samantha Perez-Parrott (2011-12) who worked to institute accountability processes for student fees, ASUI presidents have helped their peers come together as a student body to improve their lives and their university.

    New leaders in our local communities, state, and nation have emerged from among this group. On the national political scene, 1974-75 ASUI President Dirk Kempthorne — an Idaho Senator and Governor, as well as U.S. Secretary of the Interior — and 1968-69 ASUI President Larry Craig — an Idaho Representative and Senator — rose to prominence. Mr. Kempthorne recently worked with UI and the state to celebrate the Snake River Basin Adjudication, a landmark water rights decision. (View this video to learn more.)

    ASUI presidents of more recent years include Mahmood Sheikh (1998-99), now deputy executive director of the Idaho State Bar; Autumn Hansen (2004-05), now a social worker at Riley Hospital for Children in Indiana; and Hannah Davis (2012-13), currently serving with Teach for America as a sixth-grade social studies teacher in Texas. Samantha Parrott, mentioned earlier, works for the Humane Society of Idaho.

    Other former ASUI presidents have succeeded in politics, business, academics and service. I have no doubt that Nate Fisher will someday rank among them — as will the many Vandals who take on campus leadership in its various forms.

    There is only one ASUI President each year, but we see student leaders on our athletic teams, in our residence halls, in Greek life, and in our classrooms and laboratories. We know that we will see all these Vandals succeed as leaders in our state and in our society.

    Go Vandals!

    Chuck Staben

    Here's the latest news from the University of Idaho

    An Interview with a Fellow President ASUI President Nate Fisher is a junior with a double major in political science and agricultural economics. He will serve as ASUI President for the 2014-15 school year, and he got his start in student government in junior high school. His parents, Jean Fisher and Nathan Fisher Sr., are both UI alumni, and he credits the many alumni he knows with convincing him UI was the best choice for his education.

    Why did you decide to pursue student leadership?
    As long as I can remember, I always liked being involved. I think that being involved creates a lot stronger ties to my peers, to faculty, staff and administration, and to the school.  The student voice is necessary – we are the primary stakeholders in the university, and we deserve to have a voice. I’ve enjoyed being able to express that.

    What are your goals and priorities for your time as ASUI President?
    The ASUI president is really charged with being the spokesman for the undergraduate student population. A very large portion of my job responsibility is being able to communicate effectively with other stakeholders.

    One of my major priorities is getting an Idaho Student Association up and running statewide. Also, I want a “student space” on campus. When I look around campus, I really don’t see a lot of space for students to come together and just lounge and relax. And I know lots of other issues will come up – things you can’t predict, but you have to react to.

    Have you been inspired by past ASUI Presidents?
    Everyone has great advice. There’s a steep learning curve, so being able to talk to past presidents was beneficial. They all had advice about who to meet, places to be and how to prioritize things you’re working on throughout the year. ASUI presidents are a cool class of people, and they all did important things while they were here.

    How does your role as ASUI President prepare you for the future?
    I’ve heard a lot about former ASUI presidents being very successful, particularly in the state of Idaho and Idaho politics. I think that’s the trajectory I’d like to take. I’ve always envisioned a career in public policy, and I think this positon is equipping me well for that goal.

    I think being an effective communicator is one of my strongest leadership skills, but I’ve already learned a great deal more in my first couple months. I’m a firm believer that politics is all about relationships, so it’s important to maintain those relationships and also be effective in establishing your priorities and be able to get things done.

    American Legacy Foundation Establishes Scholarship in Honor of Attorney General Wasden   A $350,000 endowed scholarship fund was created to honor Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden ’85 and his service to the American Legacy Foundation (ALF) as a member, past chair and treasurer of the Foundation’s board of directors. 
  • August 29, 2014

    August 29, 2014

    Dear Friends,

    Imagine a football coach rounding up his team on the first day of practice and telling them they won’t be lifting weights or running this year. No prepping plays. No reviewing their opponents’ tactics. Just show up a few minutes early to the first game, and you’ll play fine!

    I know this is not the approach Coach Petrino is taking with the Vandals for tomorrow’s opening game against Florida — nor is it the approach we’d expect anyone who seeks success to take.

    So how do students ensure victory in their college endeavors? Like athletes, they should plan, practice and review. When I was teaching biology courses, I shared this analogy with my students. Their exams were the games, their practice tests scrimmages, their homework and classes their daily workouts. All the elements had to be in line to succeed. The same process of preparation applies not just to athletics but also to any showcase of skill, whether a piano recital, an art show or a scientific experiment.

    At Convocation last week, I extended this same analogy to our incoming class of University of Idaho students. We welcomed them to campus with events like SYNC (Serving Your New Community), Palousafest, and the Vandal Walk to help them feel at home and connect with other Vandals. But this week they dove into their primary role as students.

    We set the bar high at the University of Idaho, to use another sports metaphor, but we will help students clear that bar. And we expect each student we admit to succeed.

    Our faculty and staff are coaches who teach them the skills they need to face the challenges ahead.  Faculty and staff also provide the playbook to students so they aren’t walking onto the field without a plan. Students’ peers in their classes, clubs and living groups are teammates with whom they can practice and find inspiring camaraderie. Resources across campus – such as Academic Support and Access Services and the Counseling and Testing Center — are like trainers who can provide a bit of help to students when, or even before, they need it. 

    And you — our alumni, the university’s many friends and our students’ family members — are the crowd cheering them on.

    Walking across campus these first few days of the new academic year, I can feel the spirit of excitement among our “team,” and I’m excited for them. Students’ dedicated practice and performance during their years as University of Idaho students will pay off for them in life as they move up to the big leagues and become leaders and innovators in our state, nation and world.

    As always at the University of Idaho – Go Vandals!


    Chuck Staben

    Here's the Latest News from the University of Idaho

    Lola Gamble Clyde: A Vandal Family Legacy The roots of Lola Gamble Clyde’s family tree are deeply entwined with the University of Idaho. After earning her education degree from the UI in 1927, Lola became a beloved teacher at a one-room schoolhouse in rural Latah County. The Vandal legacy grew as Lola’s children — Robert Clyde ’57, Isabel Bond ’54, Erlene Soulen ’53, and Mary Sullivan ’51 — as well as 14 grandchildren and multiple great-grandchildren all became U-Idaho alumni.

    While many of the family members have individually donated to U-Idaho, the family recently banded together to memorialize Lola. Her grandchildren pledged $50,000 to establish the Lola Clyde Classroom as part of the College of Education building renovation project. The classroom will honor Idaho’s pioneer teachers who, like Lola, established the teaching profession in one-room schoolhouses.

    For more information on creating your family legacy of giving at the University of Idaho, contact James Brownson, Director of Annual Giving, at (208) 885-5369 or
  • August 22, 2014

    August 22, 2014

    Dear Friends,

    Day by day, activity on campus has increased exponentially! A new academic year begins today as nearly 12,000 graduate and undergraduate students — representing 50 states (plus Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, District of Columbia, American Samoa) and 71 foreign countries — and more than 2,400 faculty and staff make final preparations for the start of the 2014-15 Academic Year on Monday.

    There’s a symbolic rebirth each year as the faculty and staff welcome back our students. We all come together to dedicate a new year to learning and growth with the ultimate aim of helping students find fulfilling careers and lead better lives. More than 80 new faculty members will join in that welcome as they enter a university community committed to the future. That commitment is realized through our research, outreach, and instruction — with daily opportunities for our students to engage in this important work.

    Although the start of a new academic year may be most obvious in Moscow, students and faculty also return to our centers in Coeur d’Alene, Boise, and Idaho Falls. And, as I have described in past letters, our activities never really stop, with very active research on the Moscow campus and at dozens of statewide research sites and stations operating on a 12-month calendar.

    Here in Moscow, students have been moving into residence halls, Greek houses, and apartments. The air is filled with marching tunes as the Sound of Idaho marching band practices. Athletes toil in the heat while other students relax in the shade. Meanwhile, excited freshmen and transfer students learn their way around campus.

    Today, we’ll formally launch the academic year with the traditional convocation ceremony that invites the community to come together in anticipation of the work of discovery and learning that lies ahead.

    This year, our keynote speaker is actor Sean Astin of Lord of the Rings fame (some may also remember his mother, Patty Duke Astin from The Patty Duke Show of my childhood). You are welcome to join us in the Kibbie Dome or via webcast at beginning at 8:30 a.m. (Pacific Time). Campus-wide events will follow as students connect with new friends and classmates as well as faculty, staff, and community members in club, intramural, and other group events.

    In truth, I am as excited as many of our students, since today begins my first full academic year! Yesterday, Mary Beth and I helped some families move their students in. I’ve also met with student government, Faculty Senate, and Staff Council leaders to make plans for working together this year. My first six months at Idaho have been very informative; you will hear me speak many times about what we can all do to make our extraordinary university even better. Please continue to share your ideas with me.

    The fall schedule will be full, but also offers many opportunities for fun. Mary Beth and I are looking forward to seeing many of you at football games and campus events, or perhaps on the bike trail. We are excited about being part of the Vandal experience that so many of you treasure.

    I applaud our new students and faculty for joining the Vandal community. At Convocation and throughout the year, I will encourage students to take advantage of the many opportunities for personal growth and learning available to them. Study hard. Play smart. Stay healthy. Let’s prepare for an exciting future!


    Chuck Staben

    Here's the Latest News from the University of Idaho

    Prof To Chair National Planetary Sciences Organization. The American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences has elected UI associate professor of physics Jason Barnes its future chair. Learn More »

    American Legacy Gift Creates Wasden Scholars Program. The College of Law received a one-time gift of $350,000 from the American Legacy Foundation creating the Wasden Scholars Program. Learn More »

    Retired Businessman, Wife Give Back to Vandal Athletics. To say Bob ’72 and Diana ’71 Bush are passionate about Athletics would be an understatement. Learn More »
  • July 11, 2014

    July 11, 2014

    Dear Friends,

    Summer is a great time to be outdoors in Idaho, enjoying the natural beauty, but also participating in a healthy lifestyle. And, as I mentioned in my previous letter, it's been a great time to travel around our state, observing the impact that the University has in every region.

    An extraordinary example of fitness was the recent IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene triathlon. A large number of Vandals completed the grueling triathlon while 50 Vandal volunteers, organized by Andrea Barlow, helped with the event, which was sponsored in part by the university. All the volunteers, including Mary Beth and I, admired the tenacity of these contestants.

    Handing out electrolytes at a race of this caliber is exciting, but the University engages in more fundamental roles in helping Idaho residents eat smarter and exercise more. For example, our Eat Smart Idaho and Healthy Living programs reach across the state through UI Extension. Our Healthy Living program builds on two U.S. Department of Agriculture initiatives that began in the late 1970s. Our efforts, led by Paul McCauley and Kristen Hansen, focus on helping those with low incomes make wise nutritional and physical activity choices for the healthiest results.

    Currently, 27 nutrition advisors work in 38 Idaho counties to benefit more than 20,000 Idahoans each year. A 2012 study showed 25 percent to 50 percent of participants adopted healthier diets, including eating more fruit and fresh vegetables. College of Agricultural and Life Sciences advisors have also assisted food pantry organizations that help those in need to make ends meet.

    Thanks to a grant from the National 4-H Council in conjunction with Con-Agra Corporation, our 4-H team led by Maureen Toomey joined in a related effort with the Healthy Living program in collaboration with Eat Smart Idaho.

    The 4-H Food Smart Families effort delivers a healthy living program to students in first through twelfth grades. Over the summer, nearly 2,500 students in 19 counties will be led through 10 sessions including nutrition basics and meal preparation, which culminate in both a community service event, and a family meal in which they share what they’ve learned.

    Twenty-one teen advocates support 10 college interns and 27 nutrition advisors who lead these classes. Several of those volunteers shared their enthusiasm for the program at the 4-H Teen Conference in Moscow recently. Other community partners extend the reach and success of these efforts: summer migrant education programs in Canyon and Owyhee counties, Boys and Girls Clubs of Twin Falls and Ada counties, the Caldwell YMCA, Parks and Recreation Departments in Boise and Emmett, St. Luke’s Hospital in Donnelley, Coeur d’Alene 4 Kids, and other school and community organizations across the state.

    "Our partners are essential to success," said Maureen Toomey, Healthy Living coordinator. "Once the students get a chance to work with the food they really get excited about it. It’s amazing how well they respond."

    The UI and its partners are providing vital life skills to participants. Better nutrition and better health lead to lifelong improvements in life quality and in productivity as well as reductions in medical costs. Additionally, some program participants have used their experience to gain new jobs.

    It's all part of serving Idaho and its citizens; it's about making a hand off that contributes to success.

    President Chuck Staben portrait


    Chuck Staben

    P.S. Next month, I’ll join in another challenge by biking a portion of the 400-mile “Ride Idaho” event with Guillermo Ordorica, the new Mexican consul in Boise. I hope some of you will join us.

    Here's the Latest News from the University of Idaho

    Justice Scalia To Speak At UI-Sponsored Celebration.
    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will provide the keynote address at an upcoming conference and celebration in Boise in August. Learn More »

    McClure Center Releases Highway Survey Results.
    The McClure Center for Public Policy Research recently released the results of a statewide survey on the state of roads and bridges. Learn More »

    Loyalty: A Vandal Tradition Exemplified By The Georges.
    Archie George, director of institutional research and assessment, has served UI loyally for more than 30 years helping supply… Learn More »

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