President's Office

Administration Building
Room 105
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3151
Moscow, ID 83844-3151
Phone: (208) 885-6365

Friday Letter Office of the President

March 29, 2013

Dear Friends,

I’m proud of our Vandal community. I’m proud of the depth of leadership that allows us to make transitions that ensure the continuing success of the University. 

I’m pleased that Wednesday the University of Idaho Board of Regents officially announced Don Burnett, our dean of the College of Law, as the interim president. He will step into this role when I leave in June.

Don is a native of Idaho with extensive legal, military, and academic achievements. Further, it could be said that he is a Vandal since birth.  His parents – both Depression-era Vandal grads -- rocked him to sleep singing the Vandal fight song.
He’s also served as a dean within our university community since 2002. So he brings to his new post a wealth of experience and knowledge of our university and its people. As he noted Wednesday, the first leader of our university – James Forney in 1891– was a lawyer who made significant strides for us in one year. I believe Don will have the same opportunity, as he leads this great institution during the course of an SBOE-led national search to find a new leader.
Ruthie and I are dedicated to helping Don, and his wife Karen, make a successful transition to their interim roles.
The board also gave us the go ahead Wednesday to develop our Football Bowl Subdivision status by joining the Sun Belt Conference. Beginning in 2014, this move provides us a known conference schedule, affiliation, and revenue source as we build strength in our FBS football program.

I’d also like to mention how proud I am of our athlete-scholars who continually place at the top of the Western Athletic Conference academically while simultaneously being a force to contend with athletically. Our Women’s Vandal Basketball Team is a great example.
Besting the rest of the WAC to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament is quite a feat – one last achieved by the Vandal women’s team 28 years ago. Facing one of the best teams in the nation during the first round shouldn’t obscure what they did in getting there.
For example, Alyssa Charlston earned a first-team all-WAC spot for the second consecutive season. She’s also Idaho’s first women’s basketball Academic All-American in a decade and the only player in the WAC to earn a perfect GPA last year. She is just one example of why our Vandals have swept the WAC academic awards in recent years, and that’s just part of the bigger academic picture. 
I’m thankful for the progress we’ve made in academics across the university. We continue to inspire college attendance, especially among students who are the first in their families to attend college. We’re also committed to their success throughout their student years. This shows in our six-year graduation rate that equals or bests the rate of most public universities in the Pacific Northwest, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
This success comes from the commitment of leaders and teachers throughout our university. I’m proud of them and the faithful service they provide our students and our state.
Finally, I’m proud of the loyal alumni and friends who continue to invest in this great institution.

Well done. Thank you all.

M. Duane Nellis

Clean Snowmobile Team Has Banner Year. The university’s Clean Snowmobile Challenge Team won a record number of awards earlier this month – nearly half of those possible – at an international competition earlier that challenges engineering students to build quieter, lower-emission snowmobiles. The 13-member team took third place overall at the 2013 Society of Automotive Engineers Clean Snowmobile Challenge in Houghton, Mich. They also won 10 of 21 possible awards, earning recognitions for snowmobile design, project display, safety, value and innovation, and winning $1,000 in prize money. The team also was one of only six to complete the competition’s 85-mile endurance run. Read more.

David Tank Receives NSF Career Award. David Tank, assistant professor of plant systematics, has been awarded a prestigious CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation. The $799,959 award will support Tank’s research for the next five years, fund the development of an advanced field botany course and facilitate collaboration with University of Idaho McCall Outdoor Science School faculty and graduate students to incorporate botany education into programs at the campus. “This award is a confirmation of the leadership role the University of Idaho is playing in STEM fields,” said College of Natural Resources Dean Kurt Pregitzer. “Dave’s work is groundbreaking and will greatly further our understanding of evolutionary processes.” The Faculty Early Career Development Award is among the NSF’s most prestigious awards. Its purpose is to support junior faculty who are early in their careers and exemplify the role of teacher-scholars by combining outstanding research with excellent educational initiatives. Read more.

U-Idaho Announces Spring Enrollment Numbers. The University of Idaho’s snapshot of enrollment stands at 11,551 students under the new March 15 ‘census’ date and reporting guidelines enacted this academic year by the Idaho State Board of Education. The new SBOE guidelines replace the traditional 10th day of the spring semester reporting date with March 15. Enrollment on the Moscow campus is 10,499 for spring semester 2013. A total of 8,078 students are in-state residents. Read more.

Faculty, Staff Work Together To Inspire Futures. Faculty and staff members have formed a new council to help support the university’s $225 million Inspiring Futures Capital Campaign, the largest ever undertaken statewide. Jana Joyce from the College of Science and Lori Eveleth-Baker from the College of Business and Economics were chosen as co-chairs of the philanthropic group with representatives of many units and every college. “I commonly hear people tell that they don’t feel that they can give at an amount that will be significant enough to make a difference,” said Joyce. “In my own department I have seen firsthand how many gifts at any amount can add up to support some incredibly influential programs in our college. No gift is too small to make a difference.”

To learn more about the campaign or how to make a gift, the Inspiring Futures Faculty and Staff Campaign Council will be at information tables in the Idaho Commons main floor in Moscow from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. April 15. For more information, contact Meghann Kolb at (208) 885-5205 or