President's Office

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

The Friday Letter

April 13, 2012

Dear Friends,

          There is a time tested saying -- "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."

          Although some critics say that college isn't for everyone, my strong belief is that nearly everyone can benefit from some level of post-secondary education or training. It is for that reason that we are taking a leadership role in meeting the Idaho State Board of Education's objective of ensuring 60 percent of Idahoans between the ages of 25 and 34 complete some level of post-secondary education by 2020.

          To help the state realize this vision, I have set a goal that we annually enroll 16,000 students at the University of Idaho by 2020. That's an increase of 33 percent. Through our continued partnership with the board, this goal is not only attainable -- it is critical to our state's continued economic success.

          A recent report -- Opportunity for Action -- found those who don't successfully complete high school are most commonly unemployed. These individual NEETs (Not Engaged in Employment/Education or Training) cost the U.S. economy about $37,500 per person each year. With 6.7 million NEET youths in America today, that equates to $4.75 trillion in lost revenue and increased costs - nearly one-third of the Gross Domestic Product for the entire United States!

          In contrast, the annual income of college graduates exceeds those who don't complete high school by more than 80 percent. One study found that investing in a college education delivers a greater return than comparable investments in corporate bonds, government debt and hot stocks.

          Given the tremendous and well-documented value of a college degree, the University's enrollment goal is critical to both our success and our state's future. In order to achieve it, we must ensure a quality university degree remains accessible to our state's high school students and we must provide them the opportunity for transformational learning experiences. Our commitment to this goal is reflected in the substantial amount of financial aid we make available to Idaho students. Our tuition is 30 percent more affordable than our peer institutions nationwide and Newsweek ranked the University of Idaho as the third most affordable university in the nation.

          I am proud that 75 percent of our new freshmen this past year came from the state of Idaho -- an overall increase of 6 percent in just one year. More than one-third of our new students are the first in their families to go to college. Just think of the difference that makes for our students and their extended families.

          In less than two weeks, we'll officially announce another important partnership effort - the largest fundraising campaign in Idaho's history. Aptly named Inspiring Futures, this university-wide effort seeks philanthropic investments in four cornerstone areas: students, programs, facilities, and faculty. The investments made throughout this campaign will ensure Idaho and our nation have the intellectual capital and vibrant leadership necessary to move the economy forward.

          I'll be discussing our successes and our plans for the future with the Idaho State Board of Regents who will be holding their meeting here on our Moscow campus next week. My message is simple: By working together, we can make substantial and lasting changes that benefit the state of Idaho and the state of our world.

          Thank you for all you do to inspire futures at the University of Idaho!


M. Duane Nellis

Here's the latest news from the University of Idaho

U-Idaho Student/Professor Team Discovers Water On A Moon Of Saturn. A University of Idaho graduate student in geological sciences, Alex Patthoff, and his research adviser, geology professor Simon Kattenhorn, have made a discovery of international significance. Patthoff and Kattenhorn's groundbreaking research documents evidence of a liquid ocean on Saturn's moon Enceladus, which is currently being imaged by NASA's Cassini spacecraft and has intrigued planetary scientists with its erupting geysers of water, emanating from giant cracks near the south pole of the moon. "That a discovery of this magnitude comes out of the University of Idaho is a testament to the far-reaching science being done at our institution," said Kattenhorn. "The discovery of evidence of a global ocean on Enceladus represents a major scientific advance: 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 for decades." Patthoff's doctoral research, documenting evidence of the find, has already secured his selection as the 2012 recipient of the national Pellas-Ryder Award.


Advanced Sustainable Transportation Research Center Team Visits. Members of the team translating multi-million dollar grants into groundbreaking, transportation research at the National Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology Center visited here this week. The University of Idaho was recently awarded $3.5 million from the Department of Transportation to lead the national Tier 1 University Transportation Center. The University of Idaho is leading one of only 10 Tier 1 centers selected from a highly competitive pool of 46 proposals. Partners in the center are Old Dominion University, Syracuse University, Texas Southern University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). The center is a collaborative university effort to further develop technologies to improve the efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of the transportation system. Researchers from the five universities will study driverless intersection controls, eco-driving methods, eco-routing based on time and traffic, communication between vehicles to steady traffic flow, vehicle performance adjustments for efficient operation in controlled traffic systems, optimized freight routing, decision support tools for policymakers, and encouragement of driver behavior that reduces fuel consumption and increases safety.

Professor 'Pays It Forward' By Giving To Inspire Student Innovation. Steve Beyerlein, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a University of Idaho donor, has been 'paying it forward' since 1987. In addition to giving his time and talents to the University, Steve has also generously given to multiple areas across campus. One of Steve's favorite projects to support has been the IdeaWorks Advanced Computer Assisted Drawing Lab. Through giving to the lab, Steve has seen first-hand how an innovative student's architectural design can become a reality. In this way, he joins a community of giving that taps the ingenuity of Idaho students in this futuristic learning space. "I believe in an educational philosophy where faculty and staff serve as role models, co-authors, and collaborators for students in the venture of transformational learning," says Steve. "We should play similar leadership roles for alumni after graduation." Join Steve as an employee donor to the University of Idaho by setting up a payroll deduction or making an annual contribution to the program or designation of your choice. For more information and to find the best fit for your next gift, contact the Annual Giving office at or (208) 885-5205.

Manage Your Subscriptions Online. You can now manage your own subscriptions to University communications, such as the Friday Letter, through a convenient online menu.