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 17, 2012

Dear Friends,

We launch a new academic year today with convocation and other campus-wide activities as we welcome more than 3,400 new students and nearly 50 new faculty members and administrators. We also have George P. Bush, grandson of George H. W. Bush, joining us as the keynote speaker. It’s great to begin a new year with new opportunities for so many new Vandals!

We launch Vandal success stories every day, and recent headlines have provided frequent evidence of this. From Olympic success stories to space exploration firsts, Vandals have demonstrating the possibilities open to those who’ve succeeded here.

Last week, the Mars Rover Curiosity landed to begin a more than one-year mission. The info we receive from Curiosity comes, in large part, thanks to a NASA engineer Matt Braley `05, who designed and assembled most of the data collection instrumentation.

This follows the success of Tom Mueller `85, another Vandal engineering graduate who set his sights on reaching the stars. After years of experimentation with rocket engines, he helped his company – SpaceX – secure the first contract to resupply the International Space Station.

We also recognized several Vandal heroes last week for their terrestrial successes in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Kristin Armstrong came out of retirement to win hersecond gold medal in the Cycling Women’s Individual Time Trial on August 1. I was fortunate enough to join nearly 1,000 other well-wishers in Boise to congratulate her.

You might have heard of the double amputee known as “Blade Runner” who ran with South Africa’s 400-meter relay team -- Oscar Pistorius. Though he has the determination of a Vandal – he won a four-year fight to gain access to the Olympic races -- his connection came through our own Craig McGowan, a biological sciences assistant professor. McGowan worked with a team of researchers to develop carbon fiber prosthetic legs that stood up to the demands of a world-class athlete.

Of course, Vandal success isn’t limited to Americans. Danish team member Jessica Draskau-Petersson finished 40th the women’s marathon with a personal-best time of 2 hours, 31 minutes, 43 seconds. She credited her years as a Vandal for the courage to pursue bold goals.

"People keep saying that I just decided to run a year ago, like it's not normal," Jessica said. "But if you decide to do something, you just do it, right? I guess that's what I learned from my time in Idaho. [The University of Idaho is] quite a magical little place, and kind of an international little place out in the middle of nowhere," she said. "It was quite fantastic."

A common theme at the University of Idaho is our mission of inspiring futures…of encouraging and educating…as a means to improve their futures, the future of individuals, communities, and their countries. The world-class Vandals were inspired by others to go out and inspire others through individual determination.

Their success stories reflect our continuing mission of Inspiring Futures by Owning Our Own Destiny today.

Who knows what success stories we launched today. I look forward to learning the answer in years to come. Go Vandals!


M. Duane Nellis

P.S. They world keeps noticing. We learned last week that Forbes magazine has again recognized us as one of “America's Top Colleges 2012” and Outside Magazine named us one of the nation’s top 25 colleges outdoor adventure opportunities that complemented higher education.

Archaeology Dig in Downtown Boise Successfully Unearths History. U-Idaho archaeologists Mark Warner and Stacey Camp are overseeing excavation of an old well that has opened a window into 130 years into Boise’s past. The archaeological dig is at 607 Grove St. at the 1864 Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga House -- the oldest brick residence in Boise and home to early settlers, Cyrus and Mary Jacobs. It served as a Basque boarding house, before becoming a community center for Basque sheepherders. So far, the dig has yielded such items as an intact, decorative bottle of Gilt Edge ladies’ shoe polish; marbles and jacks; the head of a porcelain doll; and shards of a Haviland & Company bowl imported from France -- demonstrating that more than a century ago, Boise was a town with ties to a global economy. The University of Idaho is leading the work in collaboration with the Basque Museum & Cultural Center, the Idaho Archaeological Society, the Idaho Heritage Trust and the Boise National Forest. For an online look at the dig, go here.

Football Legend Jerry Kramer To Lead 2012 U-Idaho Homecoming Parade.University of Idaho legend, Sandpoint native and Lombardi-era Green Bay Packer star Jerry Kramer will lead the University of Idaho’s 103rd annual homecoming parade as Grand Marshal on Saturday, Oct. 6. At 10 a.m., Kramer will guide the parade through downtown Moscow in preparation for the Vandals’ homecoming contest against the New Mexico State University Aggies. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center. Kramer was chosen because he exemplifies this year’s homecoming theme, “The Brave and Bold,” through his athletic skills and football talent. The Vandal alum is known for many things during his 10-year career in the NFL. his Packers won two Super Bowls, five NFL championships, and he was a perennial All-Pro selection. In addition to being named to the 50th anniversary team, Kramer was selected for the NFL 1960s All-Decade team. Kramer kicked the winning field goal in the 1962 NFL Championship game and made what many consider the most famous block in NFL history against the Dallas Cowboys, when he paved the way for Packer quarterback Bart Starr to score as time was running out in the famous “Ice Bowl” game in 1967. This year, Hall of Fame coaches and players, including Frank Gifford, Roger Staubach, Bob Lilly, Larry Csonka, Joe Gibbs and Alex Karras have argued that Kramer is one of the best offensive lineman of his generation, and he deserves enshrinement in the NFL Hall of Fame. Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter proclaimed June 1, 2012 “Jerry Kramer Hall of Fame Day,” and Boise Mayor David Bieter proclaimed July 2012 “Jerry Kramer Month.” Kramer is a resident of Boise. See more.

Idaho Power Funds Education And Innovation Through The thinkTANK. Idaho Power recently pledged $100,000 in support of the John C. Wahl (JCW) thinkTANK, a newly opened facility in the College of Engineering. The JCW thinkTANK enhances student success by providing a place for students to strengthen their interest in engineering through activities such as team learning, peer tutoring, student societies, research and internship opportunities, advising and guest lecturers. "Many of the engineers at Idaho Power are University of Idaho graduates; I truly appreciate the support they have shown to our college," said Larry Stauffer, dean of the College of Engineering. One such alumnus is Lisa Grow ’87, senior vice president of power supply at Idaho Power. She currently serves on the College of Engineering Advisory Board and chairs the University of Idaho Utility Executive Course Advisory Board. “Giving students the best learning opportunities is important as the demand for engineers in the U.S. increases, particularly as it modernizes the aging power grid,” says Grow. “This donation allows us to continue a strong relationship with the University of Idaho, encourages advancement of future engineers, and provides an educational experience that is unique and innovative.” For more information on giving to the College of Engineering, contact Mary Lee Ryba at (208) 755-4916 or or Nat Reynolds at (208) 724-0643 or