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

The Friday Letter

August, 31, 2012

Dear Friends,

Last night’s season opener between the Vandals and the Eagles of Eastern Washington University kicked off the football season featured more than athletic prowess.  The same is true of our Vandal volleyball team win over Washington State and Montana and the Vandal soccer win over North Dakota State last week. What wasn’t obvious on the fields of play was the most important part of Vandal athletics and tradition – scholarship. 

We expect our athlete scholars to perform on and off the field of play, and it shows.  Vandal athletes led the Western Athletic Conference individually and as a group. Idaho student-athletes combined for 179 Western Athletic Conference All-Academic honors in 2011-12, earned two College Sports Information Directors Association Academic All-America awards, and four Academic All-District honors.

Hannah Kiser – a junior double majoring in Molecular Biology and Chemistry – is a great example.  She earned a position on the Second-Team All-American track and field team and finished 13th in the 3000-meter race at the NCAA Indoor Championships.  All the while, she maintained a 4.0 grade point average. Likewise, quarterback and punter, Bobby Cowan, earned a WAC All-Academic selection with a 3.50 GPA in Marketing as well as the second Football Writers’ Association of America All-American in Vandal history. 

Entire teams also showed academic prowess.  The men’s tennis team, which annually pumps engineering graduates into the real world, had five of its players earn Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar-Athlete recognition. Five members of Idaho’s WAC runner-up women’s golf team were honored as National Golf Coaches All-American Scholars, meaning they posted a 3.50 GPA or better in 2011-12. The Idaho track and field teams had nine athletes selected to the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division I All-Academic team, which requires a GPA of 3.25 or better in addition to either finishing the indoor season ranked among the top 96 individuals in the NCAA or qualifying for an NCAA Championships round.

Our university culture promotes successes like this for all students.  Our commitment to student centered learning aimed at student success now and after graduation makes the difference.  That’s what makes people notice.  For example, we were recognized this week by Washington Monthly as one of the top “national universities” in the United States.  This rating focuses on the social mobility made possible by academics, research, and service opportunities provided by the university.

Using these criteria, our university was ranked 65th in the nation amongst all universities and 37th amongst public universities. This success included important measures like graduation rates in which the University of Idaho ranked 103 in the nation out of nearly 2,500 four-year colleges and universities.  

Our success in serving students put us ahead of powerhouses like Georgetown and Rutgers as well as regional peers like the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, University of Montana, and Washington State.

We celebrated all of our students and their successes this week. Rather than a feel good exercise based on platitudes, it was one based on facts.  Our students receive some of the best educational opportunities in the United States, and they make the most of it.

Quite simply, empirical evidence shows that we lead the nation in producing students who succeed.  That’s what it takes to Inspire Futures!


M. Duane Nellis


U-Idaho Tops National Universities List By Doing More For Students. Positive student impact that promotes social mobility, a commitment to service, and research that impacts the country's health and economy, has put the University of Idaho among the leading national universities in the United States, according to a study by the Washington Monthly.  The study ranks the University of Idaho 65th among the nearly 2,500  U.S. universities and four-year colleges.  It ranked 37th among public institutions.  That puts university in good company with Johns Hopkins, George Washington University, Purdue, Loyola, Utah State, Arizona State, and the University of Southern California.  The study seeks to answer the question, "What are universities and four-year colleges doing for the country?"  It examines three primary factors.  The first is social mobility, which credits institutions for helping students successfully earn degrees with a special emphasis on assisting those with limited means.  Thus, institutions that are both effective and affordable get the highest marks.  The second factor measures research production that creates information that answers societal needs.  Third, it examines institutional commitment to serving the public by sharing skills and knowledge outside the classroom.

The Inspiring Futures Themes Takes Main Stage At 2013 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. The U-Idaho Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival will celebrate its 46th year with a stellar lineup of artists in Moscow Feb. 20-23, 2013. This year’s theme, “Inspiring Futures Through Jazz,” complements the university’s “Inspiring Futures” capital campaign and also speaks to the core mission of the jazz festival. “We love bringing students to the University of Idaho and are especially proud to be a part of the ‘Inspiring Futures’ campaign,“ said festival executive director Steven Remington. “It’s inspiring for our community to see the students perform so well, and it’s inspiring for the students to engage with the world-class jazz artists we invite each year. Our hope is that the students will consider the University of Idaho – and jazz music – as an inspirational source for lifelong learning.” The weekend concerts will feature the inspirational music of a cappella group TAKE 6, the Jeff Hamilton Trio and a “string summit” featuring violinists Regina Carter, Sara Caswell and Aaron Weinstein and saxophonist Maceo Parker and his band. Visit, or call 208-885-6765 for the most up-to-date festival information. 

Idaho Makes Giving Even More Valuable. If you are an Idaho taxpayer, your donation to the University of Idaho may be eligible for a 50 percent education tax credit that could reduce the amount of tax you owe or increase your refund.  This credit is available regardless of whether or not you itemize deductions. For those who itemize, the deduction may become even greater.  Beginning in 2011, the maximum education tax credit allowed was increased considerably for both personal and business gifts. Take advantage of this tax credit by supporting the University of Idaho today! For more information, contact Meghann Kolb at (208) 885-5205 or