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Friday Letter Office of the President

October 4

Dear Friends,

Next year, in 2014, we will celebrate the 125th anniversary of Idaho’s national land-grant, comprehensive, founding university. During that auspicious year we also expect our next long-term president to take office.
The presidential selection process is well underway. Just this week, our Board of Regents –- the State Board of Education – announced that the five finalists will visit Idaho in October, participating in statewide interviews that will enable them to meet students, faculty, staff, alumni, and civic leaders. The finalists were chosen from approximately 70 nominees and applicants by a hard working, 16-member search committee chaired by Regent Emma Atchley. [By agreement with the Board of Regents, your current interim president has not been a candidate.]
The field of finalists is strong. Further information about them and the venues where you can meet them is available on our website.
We have had 22 presidents to date, counting interim office holders. Indeed, our first president was an interim: Judge James H. Forney of Moscow. He played a key role in organizing the university and in recruiting our first long-term president, Franklin Benjamin Gault, whom he described as having “a large jaw-bone shadowed by a proportionately large moustache...I later told [the] Regents that it would take a man with a large jaw-bone to run this thing because we had no money.”
Jawboning remains an important part of the president ‘s job today. The university president is an emissary -- an advocate for the distinctive history and mission of Idaho’s first university. The president also is a member of the university faculty and staff, charged with shepherding our teaching, research and outreach functions and with advancing the interests of our students, the university community, and diverse stakeholders. The president, as both a leader and collaborator, is responsible for the university’s fulfillment of responsibilities derived from our unique constitutional status as well as from an array of state and federal statutes.
Each of my predecessors has discharged these responsibilities diligently and has made an important contribution to our university’s ongoing success. I hope and confidently anticipate that our next long-term president will bring to his or her work a studiously acquired understanding of Idaho, a heart-felt passion for the Vandal tradition, and a vision of the University of Idaho presidency as a capstone rather than a stepping stone.
As shown in the table below, our presidents have come to us from a remarkable variety of disciplines. Their backgrounds reflect the breadth of our university’s connections and responsibilities. Many presidents achieved distinction in their specialized fields before entering academic administration. President Frederick J. Kelly, to take just one example, earned national recognition as the creator of standardized tests of scholastic achievement.
The president’s job is one of daunting challenges but also of abundant joy.  There is a special feeling about this place. Rafe Gibbs captured it in the title of his history of the University of Idaho:  “Beacon for Mountain and Plain.”
As presidents come and go, the light shines and grows ever brighter.
Go Vandals!
Don Burnett
Interim President

 President  Dates Specialization
 James H. Forney (Acting)       
 1891-1892  Law
 Franklin B. Gault  1892-1898  Mathematics
 Joseph P. Blanton  1898-1900  Theology
 James Alexander MacLean  1900-1913  History/Political Science
 Melvin A. Brannon  1914-1917  Biology
 Ernest H. Lindley  1917-1920  Psychology
 Alfred H. Upham  1920-1928  Latin
 Frederick J. Kelly  1928-1930  Education
 Mervin G. Neale  1930-1937  Education
 Harrison C. Dale  1937-1946  Business
 Jesse E. Buchanan  1946-1954  Civil Engineering
 Donald R. Theophilus  1954-1965  Agriculture – Dairy Science
 Ernest W. Hartung  1965-1977  Zoology
 Richard D. Gibb  1977-1989  Education
 Elisabeth A. Zinser  1989-1995  Business Management
 Thomas O. Bell (Acting)  1995-1996  Education
 Robert A. Hoover  1996-2003  Political Science
 Gary G. Michael (Interim)  2003-2004  Business
 Timothy P. White         
 2004-2008  Physiology/Kinesiology
 Steven Daley-Laursen (Interim)         
2008-2009   Forest Science
 M. Duane Nellis  2009-2013  Geography
 Donald Burnett (Interim)
 2013-  Law

Here's the latest news from the University of Idaho

Increased Bandwidth Will Help Researchers Share, Move Data.
The National Science Foundation awarded the university nearly $450,000 to increase its core network bandwidth tenfold, allowing researchers to share data more effectively and efficiently in Idaho and worldwide.  See more on this and other recent news.
See the latest features here.

CALS Retiree Matches Idaho Cattle Foundation Gift To Establish Endowment. Carl Hunt, former chair of the Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, and his wife Martha established the Hunt Family Beef Education and Research Endowment with a commitment to match up to $50,000 in funds raised. Thanks to the recent $50,000 donation from the Idaho Cattle Foundation, Inc. –- created in 2009 by the Idaho Cattle Association –- the Hunts will be fulfilling their commitment. The Hunt Family Beef Education and Research Endowment was created to ensure a continued commitment to education and research concerning beef cattle at the University of Idaho. The funds will support student compensation for beef research, graduate assistantships, travel to conferences, supplies and equipment, and infrastructure improvements. The ultimate goal of the endowment is to invest $1 million for an endowed professorship within the department. The combined gifts of $100,000 from the Hunts and ICF provide an important first step toward reaching this goal. For more information on giving to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, contact Kim O’Neill at (425) 359-2411 or kimoneill@uidaho.edu or Jen Root at (208) 885-4087 or jroot@uidaho.edu.