The Friday Letter
July 13, 2012
The summer is quickly passing, but it’s been full of highlights. One of them came in the national celebration of land grant universities in Washington D.C. which I attended last month on the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act.
Signed by Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War on June 26, 1862, the act gave states land to build universities dedicated to teaching the nation’s next generation and promoting it’s economy. It, and subsequent legislation, inspired 70 land-grant institutions that emphasize research and education in agriculture and other sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
In Idaho, there’s only one such university – your university – the University of Idaho.
We have a long, proud history. The land-grant university system democratized higher education. No longer was it a privilege mostly reserved for the sons of wealthy families or for the professional class. The University of Idaho’s early graduating classes show that educational opportunity was available to all. Our first graduating class in 1896 included two men and two women. In 1899 Jennie Eva Hughes joined five other women in a graduating class of 13 and became the University’s first African American graduate.
Since then, we’ve helped nearly 100,000 people obtain their degrees at the University while improving their lot in life and the lot of their communities through education -- more jobs, more income, more opportunities. Yet, there’s more. We’ve helped improve life and health of millions of Idahoans, through research.
This research has come in very specific ways like new grains, medicines, and technology. It also comes through using these findings in new ways. For example, the university’s leadership was again recognized recently with Princeton University recognizing the University of Idaho as a national leader in sustainability.
We’re committed to a better future, but there are challenges. We’re looking for answers to help our students; I even asked Bill Gates recently what he thought we could do to increase the number of students coming into STEM fields that benefit them and the country. You can see the exchange here at the 40:08 minute mark. Many of our senior leaders and I will be visiting community and business leaders throughout the state next week to discuss this and other issues in which your university will benefit Idaho.
I encourage you to continue to find ways to join us in this effort. One way is to work with the university in units that make sense to you: 4-H, FFA, Extension, specific colleges, and specific programs. Joining us in the Inspiring Futures campaign [link to website] is another important way to join in. However, you join in the effort, I want to thank you for your commitment to a better future for our university, our state, our region, and the world.
M. Duane Nellis
P.S. You’ll see the next Friday Letter in early August when they will again be sent to you weekly.
Researchers Find Evidence Of Oceans On Saturn’s Largest Moon. For decades NASA scientists and planetary researchers around the globe have searched for habitable environments in space. In 2005, the Cassini spacecraft discovered water-rich plumes venting on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Analyses of the geysers provided evidence of a regional ocean, suggesting the planet could sustain life. “Water provides the key ingredient for a habitable environment, and thus astrobiological potential, which is why the search for liquid water elsewhere in the solar system has been one of the primary directives for NASA,” University of Idaho geology professor Simon Kattenhorn explains. According to the findings of geological sciences doctoral candidate Alex Patthoff and geomechanics scientist Kattenhorn, his research advisor, there may be more ocean on Enceladus than planetary scientists first suspected. See more.
Archaeology Team Discovers Some Of The Oldest Evidence Of Human In Idaho. At an archaeological dig site in the Clearwater National Forest, a tribal elder gathers around a campfire to tell coyote stories to University of Idaho researchers, who are weaving their own narrative of a sort. Against the backdrop of emerald Kelly Creek, a renowned fly-fishing destination in Idaho’s north-central wilderness near the Montana border, the researchers are piecing together the story of the region’s earliest indigenous tribes, told through artifacts that represent some of the state’s oldest evidence of human activity. Excavation has stretched over the past two summers, with U-Idaho archaeologists and their field school students finding and cataloging about 11,000 items, including prized hunting tools – some of them 12,000 or more years old. Among the most notable finds are 354 implements. “This is really important. It’s not the biggest dig in the state – but it is among the very oldest,” says University of Idaho archaeologist Lee Sappington, a foremost authority on human history on the Columbia Plateau. An associate professor of anthropology in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, he’s ultimately responsible for the project. See more.
Fords Boost Community And Scholarship Through Giving. Bud and June Ford are passionate about the University of Idaho and Vandal Athletics. As a long-time season ticket holder, Bud enjoys the spirit of community at events. “Idaho has a great family of sports enthusiasts. The camaraderie amongst Idaho fans is unbelievable,” Bud said. “I have a lot of friends here – it’s like a family reunion at the first game every year.” The couple have attended football games since 1953. They’ve also shown their enthusiasm with the commitment of a major gift to the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center Renovation and Expansion Project. In 2011, Bud helped cut the ribbon on the Bud and June Ford Club Room. While Bud has high praise for the student-athletes’ ability to excel on the field and in the classroom, he is also quick to emphasize the quality of education at the University. This quality is what inspired Bud and June to give to the university. “Idaho has good staff and facilities,” he said. “My children have all received great educations here, and I’m just happy that I was able to save enough money to make a good donation. You can’t beat Idaho for the university it is.” For more information on supporting the University of Idaho, visit Inspiring Futures: Invest in the University of Idaho or contact Pete Volk at (208) 885-1201 or firstname.lastname@example.org.