The Friday Letter
March 23, 2012
Although they were not in classrooms during last week's spring recess, many of our students and staff were still hard at work throughout our state and nation. Meanwhile, back on campus, innovation and discovery were not in short supply.
To my first point, nearly 150 of our amazing students and staff members formed 12 Alternative Service Break teams and fanned out across our state and our nation. Three teams worked with the Idaho communities of Boise, Jerome and Salmon. The others traveled to Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. They worked with community partners to help people struggling with issues like poverty, homelessness, hunger, domestic violence, education, housing, immigration, community development and race relations.
Though the people and places may change, volunteer service by our students goes on year round. That's the primary reason the White House placed the University of Idaho on the Presidential Honor Roll for Community Service for the sixth consecutive year. Even more impressive, was that YOUR University was among only a handful of institutions receiving "with distinction" status. Only one other Pacific Northwest school received this terrific honor.
University of Idaho students weren't the only ones leading the way forward last week. There was also a great deal of important work going on at university locations around the state. In Coeur d' Alene, for example, a deal was struck that will help professional-technical instructors extend their skills in order to help them better prepare students for work across northern Idaho.
In Moscow, the university hosted the state finals for Invent Idaho a program that encourages innovation among youthful inventors. Hundreds of middle and high school students came from across Idaho to participate. Winners included students in grades 1 though 8 from Sandpoint to Boise to Blackfoot.
Early interaction with young leaders like this helps encourage them to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM. As the institution that produces half of all the STEM degrees granted in Idaho, we understand well the critical importance of these early connections and the role they play in helping a student envision a path to future success. As one parent aptly put it: "The university setting gave the program a feel of this-could-be-your-future and raised the bar on excellence and academic achievement. What a great partnering of two organizations who share a common goal of promoting creative thought and hard-working intelligence."
Innovation and new ideas were also on full display at yesterday's annual Innovations Awards Dinner. Idaho Department of Commerce Director Jeff Sayer joined us as the master of ceremonies to recognize our faculty, staff and students and the active external partners who helped to move ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace.
This year, 40 inventions from our university began the formal process seeking federal recognition. Six have already achieved official recognition with either a patent or plant variety certification. These included new soil sampling methods invented by Dev Shrestha and new water treatment methods invented by Greg Moller. It also included three new potato varieties and a new wheat strain designed by Jeff Stark and Robert Zemetra respectively. Each of these 40 efforts represents significant work on the part of faculty, staff, and students involved in research.
The event also recognized the critical partnerships involved in the licensing of these and other technologies -- like efforts to purify wastewater (Blue Water Technologies), vaccinate commercial fish populations (Aquatic Life Sciences), employ data compression and transmission (ICs LLC), and use web-based reporting systems (Clocktower Media).
John Shovic of Coeur'd Alene and chief technical officer of InstiComm was recognized with the Alumni Innovator Award for his more than 30 years of successful entrepreneurship that leveraged his knowledge, expertise and a University of Idaho doctoral degree to build six companies.
The volunteerism, innovation and partnership reflected in these activities are central to the benefits we provide Idaho. As the source of nearly 70 percent of higher education research, the majority of STEM degrees, and a leading center for volunteer service, your university is inspiring futures while helping others today.
That's what great universities do.
M. Duane Nellis
P.S. I just received some more great news about one of our many Vandal leaders. Jessica Shawley, Moscow Junior High School PE teacher, who is a Wright Fellows graduate with her M.Ed. and National Board Certification through our program, has been named the National Middle School Teacher of the Year! She joins other great Vandal professionals like Erin Lenz, Coeur d'Alene, who is this year's Idaho Teacher of the Year, and Superintendent of Boise School District, Don Coberly, Ph.D., who was awarded the Idaho Association of State Superintendents' Distinguished Leadership Award last month.
White House Recognizes U-Idaho as National Leader in Community Service. The U-Idaho outreach and engagement efforts were recognized this month by the White House, as it has every year since the Presidential Honor Roll for Community Service began in 2006. However, this year the university was among only 20 percent of the institutions of higher education that received "with distinction" status. Only one other Pacific Northwest School received this honor -- Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. Only one other Idaho institution made the list at all - Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston. "The award recognizes the university's commitment to engaged scholarship that provides transformational learning opportunities for students. This is significant national recognition of the good work the University of Idaho does every day locally, nationally, and globally," said Adrian Wurr, Assistant Director of the University of Idaho Service-Learning Center.
Alumni To Be Honored At Upcoming Silver And Gold Ceremonies. Distinguished Vandals will be recognized in upcoming Silver and Gold Awards ceremonies at Moscow and Coeur d' Alene on April 5 and 11 respectively. In Moscow, Nancy Lyle '56 of Moscow will receive the Jim Lyle Award honoring volunteer service to the university. Richard C. Hundrup '75, of Healy, Alaska will receive the Silver and Gold Award honoring a distinguished record of achievement and service. Honorary Alumni recognition honoring faithful and distinguished service to the University of Idaho will be presented to Gaylen and Mary Margaret Wood of Moscow. In Coeur d' Alene, local residents Mike and Carol Wilson, '77 and '78 will be honored with the Jim Lyle Award honoring their volunteer service to the university. Dennis Wheeler '66 '67 of Coeur d'Alene will receive the Silver and Gold Award honoring his distinguished record of achievement and service. Honorary Alumni recognition honoring faithful and distinguished service to the university will be presented to Ben Rolphe of Coeur d'Alene. Registration is requested before March 30 using online or phone registration at (208) 885-6154.
Ramseyer Trusts Provide For Family And Continuing Scholarships. Donald and Kathryn Daly '38 Ramseyer each created a lasting legacy of scholarship support at the University of Idaho through the establishment of testamentary trusts. After losing their first spouses at young ages, the Ramseyers were married for 38 years until Don's passing in 2008. Kathy died in 2009. Both trusts initially provided ongoing support for Kathy's disabled adult son Eddy, until his passing. The remainder of each trust was distributed to the University of Idaho Foundation, Inc. The John H. Daly and Kathryn Daly Ramseyer Scholarship Endowment, funded with a distribution of over $403,000 from the Kathryn Daly Ramseyer Trust, will provide scholarship support to students in all degree programs with 25 percent of the funding designated specifically for Law students. Meanwhile, the Donald D. Ramseyer Scholarship Endowment which provides scholarship support to students in all degree programs was created with a distribution from the Donald Ramseyer Trust of just under $337,000. The Ramseyer family has a strong connection to the university. Two of Don's grandchildren -- Phillip Brian Peavey and Jennifer Peavey Joanis -- from his first wife, Josephine Jones Ramseyer, and countless cousins have attended the University of Idaho. This strong connection led the Ramseyers to join the Heritage Society through their expressed bequest intentions. The couple is now listed on the Heritage Emeriti donor roll. For information on how you can create an endowment at Idaho, please contact the Office of Estate, Trust and Gift Planning at (208) 885-1201 or toll-free at (866) 671-7041.
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