The Friday Letter
Energy and enthusiasm are at a peak with fall classes now in full swing. Our nearly 3,400 new students are engaged in classes in Moscow, Coeur d’Alene, Boise, Idaho Falls and to a lesser degree at other smaller sites from Kelly Creek in the North to the Caine Veterinary Center in the South and across the world via the Internet.
Many Vandal traditions continue on campus: Greek Rush, residence hall move in, freshman orientation, a walk down Hello Walk, and a range of welcome events. However, the participants are more diverse than ever with representatives from across the country and more than 70 nations. This continues our history of inclusion -- begun with our first graduating class that was equally balanced between men and women and the classes that would soon follow that included African-Americans, Native Americans, and others who couldn’t find access elsewhere.
We also began a new tradition to launch the academic year. Our inaugural convocation ceremony provided an opportunity to remind our university community of our shared legacy and bright future with the tools to achieve it. Our keynote speaker – George P. Bush, son of Jeb Bush and grandson of George H. W. Bush – encouraged us to overcome barriers. As the son of two American traditions with a father from a powerful political family and an immigrant mother, Bush promotes opportunities for Hispanic Americans. He reminded the audience of the important role education and hard work play in changing life’s circumstances.
Another event this week was bittersweet. We dedicated a bench to the memory of Katy Benoit who died tragically last year. Though we’ve always been committed to the safety of our community members, the tragic loss of Katy inspired us to review all of our procedures and to employ new measures to ensure we’re doing our best to provide safe environments at all our locations. This bench will serve as a reminder of a vibrant young life taken from us too quickly, but also a reminder of the importance of continued vigilance to protect future students. As Katy’s parents have told me, she would want us to remember her for her desire to make life better.
These efforts and other efforts to provide the best in student-centered education, have led to another national recognition. The Princeton Review this week again named us one of the nation’s best 377 colleges. This places the University in the top 15 percent of four-year, U.S. colleges. Of course rankings are only one measure of the total student experience. We’re the first choice for students who want to become successful leaders. And we deliver top student retention, quality education, top graduation rates, training for leadership and service with follow-on jobs or business ownership.
The future is ours and includes opportunities to inspire the futures of others.
M. Duane Nellis President
U-Idaho Creates Director of STEM Education Position, Names Hamilton. The University of Idaho has named Melinda Hamilton as the new leader of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education initiatives. Hamilton will work to coordinate the university’s numerous STEM efforts and capitalize on its significant expertise, explore future partnerships and provide leadership to ensure program growth and success. Hamilton, who has served as the director of educational programs at the Idaho National Laboratory for four years, will begin her university appointment Oct. 14. This new position, and its focus, will be supported by U-Idaho’s college deans under the guidance of Cori Mantle-Bromley, dean of the College of Education. Hamilton will develop and implement a long-term, strategic plan for the University of Idaho’s STEM education and research initiatives; collaborate with statewide STEM practitioners and other institutions involved in STEM education and research; provide leadership in developing interdisciplinary proposals leading to extramural funding and increasing levels for STEM educational research activities; and provide leadership in STEM recruitment and retention at the University of Idaho. “The University of Idaho is already a leader in the state, and nationally, in STEM education, but we have the opportunity to create a greater impact on several levels,” said Hamilton. “The economic impact this will have on the future of Idaho, in terms of education and business opportunities, is both exciting and endless.” See more.
State of Idaho Gives Deal To U-Idaho Donors. Did you know that the Idaho Legislature has significantly increased the Idaho income tax credit for the gifts made to the University of Idaho? As you begin to determine what charities you wish to support this year, remember that donors who make gifts to the University of Idaho can use both the tax credit and the associated deduction to significantly reduce their Idaho income tax liability. This credit is only available for gifts to schools, including the University of Idaho, which makes now the perfect time to support your favorite academic and scholarship programs. There may be some limitations worth discussing with your tax professional or discussing confidentially with a representative of the Office of Estate, Trust and Gift Planning at the University of Idaho. For more information, call Pete Volk, director of estate, trust and gift planning toll free at (866) 671-7041.