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President's Office

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

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 uinews@uidaho.edu.


  • Current Issue

    September 19, 2014


    Dear Friends,

    This afternoon, I’ll walk into the Kibbie Dome and join the Vandal community as we celebrate my inauguration. This is a big occasion for me, certainly, but the day is truly about all the people who work together to make the University of Idaho successful.

    As the 18th president of the university, I join a long and storied history of people who have dedicated their intellect, talent and energy to educating students and improving the lives of Idahoans. We’ve scheduled the inauguration for 1:25 p.m. to recognize that 125-year history.

    But in my speech today, I’ll be looking forward. The message is titled “Keys to Our Future,” and I believe every student, staff member, faculty member, alumni and friend of the University of Idaho holds those keys. Our future excellence is under our control.

    My friend and mentor Lee Todd, former president of the University of Kentucky, will provide the keynote address this afternoon. Lee introduced me to higher-level administration years ago, when he named me chair of a committee tasked with finding strategies to position the University of Kentucky as a top-20 national research institution.

    It was no simple task. While there is no easy way to define what a “top” university is, we discovered there is great value in aiming to be the best you can be.

    I’ve said many times in my first months as president that one of my broad goals for the University of Idaho is to see us become better — even better than we believed possible.

    My sons are avid swimmers, and I watched youth swimming for 15 years. Few 6-year-olds could swim even 25 yards of butterfly — it’s a very difficult stroke. Yet, after 10 years of hard work, though few become Michael Phelps, every one could swim 200 yards. Each had become better than he or she could ever have believed. The University of Idaho can become better than we could ever believe. 

    At the University of Idaho, we may not have the resources to skyrocket to the the top of national rankings lists, but we have the ability to do the absolute best we can with what we have, where we’re at.

    As a land-grant university, one of our highest callings is the education of students. I believe we have the ability to provide an excellent and affordable education to more students from Idaho, the West and the world, so I’ve made increasing enrollment my first mission as president.

    Every Vandal is part of that mission. Our faculty and researchers will teach and mentor these students. Our staff will keep the university ticking as we expand. Our students will welcome new peers into a strong and friendly community. Our alumni and friends will support new students with their generosity and Vandal spirit.

    As the University of Idaho grows and changes, we all play a role. You hold the keys to our future.

    Sincerely,

    Chuck Staben
    President

    Here's the Latest News from the University of Idaho

    Inspiring Futures

    Chemistry alumnus gives back to college that prepared him for career. 

    John S. Townsend of Moses Lake, Wash., recently made a $100,000 gift to help purchase a new nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer for the Department of Chemistry. The NMR is a critical piece of equipment for research in the department. John studied chemistry at UI, worked for Idaho Potato Starch in Blackfoot, and then Western Polymer in Moses Lake. He later purchased Western Polymer, which produces starch for the paper industry and food-grade starch. John sold the company, which also has operations in Maine and North Dakota, to his children a few years ago, and his daughter now runs the business. “My studies at Idaho prepared me for a career in chemistry, so I am making this gift in appreciation of the education I received,” John said. For more information about giving to the College of Science, please contact Eric Bennett at (208) 885-9106 or ebennett@uidaho.edu.
  • September 12, 2014

    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.

    Sincerely,

    Chuck Staben
    President

    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 hornbuckle@uidaho.edu
  • 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
    President

    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!


    Sincerely,

    Chuck Staben
    President

    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 jbrownson@uidaho.edu.
  • 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 www.uidaho.edu/live 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!

    Sincerely,

    Chuck Staben
    President

    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 »
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