|January 13, 2012
On Monday, I sat in the Idaho House gallery section, joined by my fellow university presidents, to listen to Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter deliver his State of the State address. I'm heartened by his focus in that address on the important role that higher education plays in moving Idaho's economy forward. As I've shared with you before, I tend to be a glass half-full person; based upon the governor's budget recommendations that support higher education, I am hopeful that we may be at a positive turning point.
Late last week, Governor Otter graciously hosted an important gathering in his office that demonstrated the vital role our University plays in service to the state as Idaho's only land-grant institution.
At that gathering, the Idaho Wheat Commission and Limagrain Cereal Seeds announced multi-million dollar endowments that will provide funding to harness and enhance new agricultural research and extension efforts across the state. Joining Governor Otter and me for this announcement were Lt. Governor Brad Little; John Hammel, dean of our College of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Gordon Gallup, chairman of the Idaho Wheat Commission; Don Thill, director of our Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station; and Jim Peterson, vice president for research at Limagrain Cereal Seeds.
For me, these partnerships clearly demonstrate the power of public-private collaboration and the value that a land-grant institution like the University of Idaho brings to our state's economy.
For example, the Idaho Wheat Commission's gift will create two $1 million endowed professorships, an investment that will provide stable funding for our faculty doing exceptional research and teaching. The college has committed additional limited resources as a strategic investment to ensure research directly benefits agriculture - a key driver in our state's economy.
Two researchers who personify the college's research and extension programs' value to growers are Juliet Marshall and Jianli Chen.
Juliet is an Idaho Falls-based cereal pathologist. She helped wheat and barley growers protect their crops from an unusual challenge from stripe rust this spring. Her warnings helped limit losses to 10 to 20 percent, whereas untreated research plots suffered losses of nearly 80 percent.
Jianli is a wheat breeder at the Aberdeen Research and Extension Center. She plays a vital role in a national program to assess 3,000 wheat varieties for how efficiently they use water and fertilizer.
The agricultural bounty that helped Idaho develop as a state remains a stable foundation for Idaho's economy. Our college economists estimate that in 2011 alone, wheat and barley sales totaled $998 million and data show agriculture grew steadily at about 2 percent annually since the 1970s.
The realities of global markets require Idaho's grain growers to produce healthy, nutritious food as efficiently as possible. The agricultural industry's and the state's investments support those efforts, which benefit us all.
In this year when we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the creation of our nation's land-grant university system, it's fitting that we can also celebrate the ongoing and still-vital role our institutions play in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.
Our University of Idaho is woven into the fabric of the state; through the land-grant university mission and designation, our first partner was our state. Twenty-first century land-grant universities like ours are further strengthened through private-sector partnerships that help us bring our service to the state to new levels of success.
Juliet and Jianli represent the new face of the land-grant university. I look forward to sharing more relevant, real-world partnership stories with you in the near future.
M. Duane Nellis
|Collect Milestone Jazz Buttons and Save. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. In partnership with businesses in Moscow, the festival unveiled a series of collectable buttons for the occasion. They're functional, as well. The $3 buttons, featuring festival graphics, allow the purchaser to receive discounts at area merchants during the month of February; proceeds from the button sales will benefit the Hampton Festival Young Artist Concerts. The buttons are on sale now. According to Steve Remington, festival executive director, the button program gives the community a way to celebrate and support the festival's impact in the region - even if purchasers are not able to attend performances or aren't necessarily jazz aficionados. The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival takes place February 22-25 and features a stellar lineup of evening concerts, student performances, clinics and workshops that highlight jazz performance and history, as well as the "Jazz in the Schools" program. Find out all the information about the 2012 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, including the button program, volunteer opportunities, lineup, and tickets online at www.uidaho.edu/jazzfest or by phone at (208) 885-6765.
Building Blocks of Support. Thanks to a generous gift from Time Warner Cable, the University of Idaho's FIRST LEGO League program will have the opportunity to provide and engage more Idaho youth in meaningful science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The $25,000 gift was received as part of Time Warner Cable's Connect a Million Minds, a five-year, $100 million philanthropic initiative to address America's declining proficiency in STEM and to encourage children to be successful in a global economy. The Idaho FIRST LEGO League program helps children engage in real-world problems, to learn to work in teams, to use their imaginations to solve problems, and to communicate their ideas. The funding will support teams, tournaments and program management in Time Warner Cable's service territories. Additionally, Time Warner Cable has committed personnel to support the robotics program. The University's Extension 4-H Robotics Opportunities for K-12 Students program -- or Idaho ROKS -- provides an integrated series of robotics activities for youth in hopes of engaging them in long-term science and engineering experiences in higher education and ultimately encouraging them to consider STEM careers. To contribute to the University, contact Mindy Means, associate director of corporate and foundation relations, at (208) 885-7053 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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