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Physical Address:
Administration Building
Room 105
Moscow, ID
83844-3151

208-885-6365
president@uidaho.edu

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive
MS 3151
Moscow, ID
83844-3151

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The Friday Letter

The Friday Letter is U of I’s long-running, weekly message straight from the president to members of the Vandal family. Each week during the academic year, and with breaks for holidays, the president offers an update on Vandal teaching and learning, research and scholarship, and notable initiatives and priorities. Alumni and friends are welcome to join students, faculty and staff in receiving the newsletter. To subscribe, contact Executive Communications Manager Brian Keenan at bkeenan@uidaho.edu.

*|MC:SUBJECT|*
Letter from the President
February 23, 2018
Dear Friends,
This year we ring in our 51st annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. I’m proud to join our university community and music lovers alike in embarking on the next half-century of excellence. We have many reasons to be confident in the future of this signature University of Idaho event, starting with leadership.
 
Looking back at the roots of the Jazz Festival, I’ve been reflecting on the privilege I’ve had to get to know Lynn “Doc” Skinner. He served as a leader of the festival for 35 years – 29 years as executive director – before his retirement in 2006. Skinner helped take the festival from a one-night, one-guest-artist show to a multi-night event with a premier lineup and participation from hundreds of schools. Lionel Hampton himself got involved in the festival under Skinner’s tenure — as did John Clayton, who continued the premier festival tradition after Doc’s retirement. Education and outreach were greatly expanded; the Jazz in the Schools program, which has reached thousands of area elementary students with what is often their first introduction to professional musicianship, started in 1995 under Skinner’s watch.
 
In 2002, Doc Skinner was awarded the University of Idaho’s President’s Medallion, recognizing his contributions to the university.
 
Doc’s example of leadership lives on in his son, Marc, a U of I graduate. Marc is now the executive officer of our Idaho Falls center, serving southeastern Idaho with innovative education and research programs. As a Vandal family, we’re lucky the apple has not fallen too far from the tree in the case of the Skinners.
 
Today, a new generation of leaders is ensuring that our signature event provides a unique stage for musical performance and a teaching and learning laboratory for students of many ages. This year associate professor of music and saxophonist Vanessa Sielert helps steer the festival in her new role as director of the Lionel Hampton School of Music. Her excellence in her discipline, her service to U of I and her recent guidance at the festival gives us all great confidence in the direction of the festival, as well as the direction of the School of Music.
 
Last year, the University of Idaho signed on to the American Council on Education’s “Moving the Needle” initiative to spur gender diversity in the ranks of university leadership. Sielert has been involved in that effort and in building a statewide collaboration among Idaho higher education institutions to advance such goals. I’m glad that as a university we’ve had her time and commitment in the effort to make leadership more representative and inclusive.
 
Sielert has been a part of our efforts to refocus the festival, continuing to showcase leaders in the jazz world while emphasizing the one-of-a-kind educational experience for K-12 and university students. Over two days, the festival takes place entirely on campus, with main-stage performances all at the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center. A competitive track for K-12 students who wish to test themselves in that environment is now in its second year.

Overall, we’re anticipating an increase in school participation to more than 4,000 students from 141 schools. The array of workshops, seminars and mentoring opportunities continues to be dynamic. In addition to the Jazz in the Schools outreach — led by our own faculty sextet, the Palouse Jazz Project — the Lionel Hampton School of Music offered a free bonus day to festival participants. Approximately 400 students were on campus yesterday for non-jazz-related workshops. The day was concluded with Hamp’s Gala, a concert showcasing U of I student ensembles. This concert is a return to the days when Hampton would host his “Hamp’s Gala” the evening before the festival started to show off all of the ensembles at his school to the guest artists.
 
I know I join many Vandals and other Jazz Festival fans in appreciation for how the festival continues to shape lives. The lessons our visiting students receive go beyond music – they inform new perspectives, invite collaboration and respect for others, and offer a proving ground for personal growth. Our visiting students get a firsthand look at the U of I, too. That’s all in addition to seeing a great festival lineup.
 
Building on our special history, and invigorated by a strong hand at the Jazz Festival helm today, future generations of leadership will have an opportunity to learn and thrive at Jazz Fest.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
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Contact Us

Physical Address:
Administration Building
Room 105
Moscow, ID
83844-3151

208-885-6365
president@uidaho.edu

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive
MS 3151
Moscow, ID
83844-3151

Directions