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Friday Letter Office of the President

October 11

Dear Friends,

As readers of the Friday Letter know, the University of Idaho has a unique heritage.  Established in 1889 it is our state’s national land-grant, founding, comprehensive, and constitutionally recognized university. Those characteristics, taken together, classically define a flagship institution.

Flagships sail with a fleet. They receive their mission from a governing authority -- in our case, the Board of Regents -- and they fulfill that mission through collaboration with other members of the fleet, each of which has its own essential and vital capabilities. The fleet in Idaho higher education includes sister institutions with whom we share common bonds of history. 
For example, in 1901, the private Academy of Idaho became a state-run institution in Pocatello, one of the original sites proposed for the University of Idaho. The Academy of Idaho would become the Idaho Technical Institute in 1915, before being elevated to a new status as the University of Idaho – Southern Branch in 1927. For two decades, the University of Idaho delivered higher education in both Moscow and Pocatello, in addition to operating the University of Idaho’s other statewide research and extension sites. In 1947, the Southern Branch became Idaho State College and later, in 1963, it became Idaho State University. I was living in Pocatello at the time. I remember how local pride swelled when ISC became ISU.
Today, the UI and ISU collaborate extensively. In Idaho Falls we deliver courses at the University Place facility, and our respective faculties conduct high-profile research at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES). We are joint participants in the Mountain West Regional Health Research Network, in National Science Foundation-supported watershed research; and in the Idea Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE). Just last month, UI and ISU faculty received national recognition for their award-winning Idaho Geological Survey (IGS) map.
Our sister institution 35 miles to the south, Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, also shares an historical narrative with the University of Idaho. Created by the Legislature in 1893, and starting operations in 1896 as Lewiston State Normal School, it had a mission of training teachers. It underwent several structural iterations before the Legislature closed it in 1951 to save money. Lobbying revived the school in 1955 as Lewis-Clark Normal School, organized as a branch of the University of Idaho, and was assigned the mission of preparing elementary school teachers. The chief executive officer of the school was a specially appointed dean from the University of Idaho. 
In 1963, the same year ISC became ISU, the Normal School received its current name, along with independent status and authority to offer a wider baccalaureate curriculum.  Today, LCSC collaborates with the UI in several undergraduate programs including military science; and we are jointly planning, in cooperation with North Idaho College, a collaborative education facility in Coeur d’Alene.   
Our sister institution farther to the south, Boise State University, was established originally as Boise Junior College in 1932 by the Episcopal Church. Two years later the school became independent of the church and moved to its current location along the Boise River. In 1969 the school entered the state higher education system, gained four-year status, and was named Boise State College. In 1974 it achieved university status.  During these transitions, BSU was not structurally linked to the UI, but sitting UI presidents occasionally joined the platform parties of graduation ceremonies in Boise. 
Today, BSU collaborates with the UI through a host of faculty interactions including CAES and INBRE (mentioned above), through the joint offering of concurrent law-and-accounting degrees, and through a joint effort – coordinated the Small Business Development Center at BSU and the Small Business Legal Clinic at the UI – to provide statewide assistance to entrepreneurs seeking to get new enterprises off the ground. Just this week, the UI and BSU were both named by the Association of Public & Land Grant Universities to a national list of only 16 “Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities.” It is remarkable that sparsely populated Idaho captured two of those national designations.
These successes show that collaboration is powerful. It is how the University of Idaho fulfills its distinctive calling. It is how we lead. 
Go Vandals!

Don Burnett

Interim President

Here's the latest news from the University of Idaho

UI/Costa Rican Interdisciplinary Study Earns NSF Grant. The National Science Foundation grant of $249,000 for Natural Human Ecosystems is the first of its kind received by the University of Idaho. Lisette Waits, a professor in the UI College of Natural Resources’ Department of Fish and Wildlife, leads the project, which was written jointly by five faculty members from University and the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center in Costa Rica.

See more news and features.
U-Idaho Partners On $1.5 Million Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Grant.  A $1.5 million Doris Duke Charitable Foundation grant will support University of Idaho students’ participation in the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program. The University of Florida, in partnership with University of Idaho and others, received the award. The program will provide undergraduate students who are interested in environmental issues and cultural diversity with training and mentored research activities in conservation biology and other disciplines relevant to land, water and wildlife conservation. Kerri Vierling, associate professor of fish and wildlife sciences, is leading the Idaho program, along with other College of Natural Resources faculty. “Students will go out in the field, do fieldwork with grad students and faculty, and be immersed in science and natural resource research,” Vierling said. “At the end of their research experience, students will have conducted an independent research project and will present their findings to other students, faculty and groups such as K-12 students. Over the course of the multi-year experience, students will learn about science and about communicating science to a variety of audiences.” The program will accept 25 students per year, five from each of the five partner universities.  Initially two cohorts of students are planned, which will involve 50 students total. For more information about how your organization can partner with the university, contact Bobbi Hughes at (208) 885-5303 or bhughes@uidaho.edu.