President's Office

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

February 3 2012

Friday Letter Office of the President
February 3, 2012

Dear Friends,

          Remarkable faculty scholars are an important part of our University community. Their work ranges from teaching in the classroom to relevant research in areas such as the sciences, business, law and the humanities. Equally, our deans remain strongly rooted in their fields of expertise and continue to research, teach, publish and contribute to expanding our fields of knowledge.

          A great example of this is Katherine Aiken, dean of our College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. Dean Aiken is among many scholars taking part in our ongoing interdisciplinary humanities colloquium series called "Turning of the Wheel." She's a scholar of American history, women's history and Idaho history. She also champions the humanities in our state - and nation - in many important ways, not the least of which is her role as chair of the Idaho Humanities Council. This month - on Feb. 14 - Dean Aiken will take on a timely topic for the colloquium series by looking at the symbology of Valentine's Day and how it affects our nation's culture, from advertising and consumerism to views of romantic love. I value Dean Aiken's contributions not only in building up distinctive scholarship, but also for her service in leadership of our University's largest college. The humanities - letters, arts and social sciences - are an important and foundational part of our University's academic programs.

          From her college comes some great news: Fourteen students from our Department of Theatre Arts have been selected to compete for scholarships awarded by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. These students were selected based on performance evaluations during fall productions here on campus. For the festival competition, each student nominee is asked to present two scenes and a monologue and, before heading off to the regional competition in Fort Collins, Colo., these students will give our Palouse audience a chance to see their auditions.

          I am so proud of our theatre arts students, like senior Kristin Glaeser, who was nominated for her performance in our fall production of "Adoration of Dora," an original stage piece written by graduate student Lojo Simon. Kristin and sophomore Tommy Lukrich will bring scenes from two plays - "Hopscotch" by Israel Horovitz and "Courtship" by Horton Foote - to the Kennedy Center competition. They'll be evaluated on how well they perform together, whether they make bold acting choices, and the clarity of their artistic objectives.

          Kristin says her approach will be to demonstrate for the judges that the performance is "something worth watching" and she notes she will be grateful for the acting opportunity.

          Kristin and Tommy are among 200 students who will participate in the regional Kennedy Center competition in mid-February and, from there, the regional scholarship winners will head to the national festival competition in Washington, D.C., in April to compete for two $3,000 scholarships.

          In addition to acting, 10 of our students and alumni have been nominated by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for achievements in playwriting and directing. What an accomplishment!

          Finally, it just wouldn't be February without our Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. Over the course of 45 years, the festival has grown to be one of the world's most important educational festivals, drawing thousands of student performers and learners, world-class musicians, and jazz aficionados to take part in a remarkable four days - Feb. 22-25 - on the Palouse. This year's festival theme is "Masters and Mentors: Partners Shaping Tomorrow." We're proud to focus international attention on this uniquely American music form and nurture and educate - as Hamp put it - "the many incredible students who represent the future of music."

          Ruthie and I hope to see you on campus this month!

M. Duane Nellis

Here's the latest news from the University of Idaho 

Spring Enrollment Snapshot: 90 Percent of Freshmen Return.
The University's snapshot of enrollment on the 10th day of spring semester totals 11,707 students statewide, nearly identical to the previous spring. The numbers include full-time and part-time students at the University, with our main campus in Moscow offering a residential living and learning experience. Enrollment on the Moscow campus is 10,474 for spring 2012. With 1,437 freshmen returning for the spring semester, the University's freshman retention rate from fall to spring is 90 percent. "This is just one example demonstrating the quality education and the positive experiences students enjoy at the University of Idaho," says Steve Neiheisel, assistant vice president for enrollment management.

Focal Point: Celebrating the Natural Beauty of Idaho and the Nation. The University Library houses some unique collections, among them historical photographs of Idaho and nation. The roughly 800 historical photographs were collected or taken by Kyle Laughlin a Moscow resident and businessman for more than 50 years. For much of his life, he took photographs and notes regarding the natural history of the Northwest. View the images online through the Library's Digital Initiatives website.

Vandal Spirit Runs Deep with Dieners. There was no question that Hugh '68 and Barbara '68 Diener of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, would support their alma mater. The couple shares fond memories of college days spent at the University of Idaho, and have since been dedicated Vandal athletic season ticket holders, long-time donors and active volunteers. Hugh is a former National Board Vandal Booster president and Barbara is a former member of the National Vandal Booster Board of Directors. The couple remains very active in the local Kootenai County Vandal Booster Chapter. The Dieners decided to continue to show their Vandal pride through a $37,500 gift to the Kibbie Renovation and Expansion project and the Vandal Scholarship Fund. Hugh said, "The University of Idaho has provided so much to our family. Barb, our son J.P., and I have received quality educations, made lifelong friendships and enjoyed entertainment of various forms. Why wouldn't we contribute back?" For more information on to giving to the Vandal Scholarship Fund or the Athletic Director's Excellence Fund, contact Shelly Robson at (208) 651-7992 or

Event Sampler 

Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 4 and 5 (Moscow):
Thirty pianists - students, faculty and community piano teachers - will let fingers fly and bring forth gorgeous musical sounds at the 2012 Piano Bash.

Wednesday, Feb. 8 (Moscow): African American Read-In celebrates the works by African American authors, read by faculty, staff and students.

Use the University's events calendar to find out more about events in your area.

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