President's Office

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

The Friday Letter

May 4, 2012

Dear Friends,

          As I have said on many occasions, graduation is a new beginning, just as it was when these same students arrived on our campus for their transformation experience that is part of being at the University of Idaho. Now as they graduate, it is important that they begin to build their legacy of leading using the skills and knowledge they have learned while excelling in the window of opportunity life provides.

          As Steve Jobs said, “Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

          Your university has again produced another crop of students prepared to take on the world regardless of their starting point. Most have come from modest circumstances with nearly one third being the first in their family to go to college and 84 percent receiving some form of financial aid. Yet, our graduates have a long history of making a difference across society and the world.

          The stories may be very different. For example Ashley Vincent, a senior in civil engineering, share with us her experience during the Inspiring Futures Gala last Saturday. “I had dreams of where I would go, what I would do, and how I would make a positive difference in the world,” Ashley said. “But it wasn’t until the University of Idaho, that I knew how I would get there. Ashley explained that her rural school and simple means weren’t conducive to big dreams, nor were her “customers” (cattle) and her “co-worker” (Ginger – her horse). However, she has now traveled overseas, worked on policy in Washington, D.C. and, with a degree within grasp, sees even greater opportunities ahead.

          Clinton Culp came to us from the Marine Corps and is completing his dissertation with an eye to graduation. While here, he developed a program for the U.S. Marine Corps that could help its members respond to difficult combat situations. The program uses strategies and techniques developed at the University of Idaho Center for ETHICS. Preliminary results show the program has resulted in significant improvements in the moral reasoning.

          Our faculty members are central to these success stories. One example of where students benefit from “education at the speed of research” is Dean Edwards’ efforts to develop autonomous vehicles and high performance batteries for electric vehicles. His battery research is developing high performance, horizontal plate lead acid batteries that provide the same power and energy per volume for as little as one-tenth the cost. Further, he’s developing autonomous underwater vehicles that communicate using a language developed here. These machines cooperate with each other to reduce their support ship’s exposure to magnetic mines. His work has also extended to a land robot known as a forest crawler that can automatically skid logs through the forest without an operator’s guidance.

          I’m looking forward to more success stories from our commencement ceremonies in Coeur d’Alene on Monday and in Moscow on May 12. As we make a difference in the lives our students through an education focused on engaging them in unique, student centered opportunities and quality learning, our graduates will continue our legacy through the 21st Century.

          Of course, the very successful launch of our Inspiring Futures: Invest in the University of Idaho Capital Campaign last week, signals our commitment to continuing this success story. Reaching our $225 million goal will positively change the face of the University forever.

          Thank you for being part of changing the future for the better.


M. Duane Nellis

Here's the latest news from the University of Idaho

Commandant of the Marine Corps to Speak at Moscow Commencement May 12. Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and University of Idaho alumnus, General James F. Amos will visit his alma mater May 12 to inspire the Class of 2012 with the commencement address. Amos will speak to 1,432 graduates on Saturday, May 12 at 9:30 a.m. in the ASUI Kibbie-Activity Center. On Oct. 1, 2010, Gen. Amos was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for the post of Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, making him responsible for over 240,000 active duty and reserve Marines and sailors. He is the highest-ranking Vandal in our nation’s military history and the first aviator to become commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.

University of Idaho - Coeur d’Alene Commencement May 7. University of Idaho - Coeur d'Alene will hold a commencement ceremony at 7:30 p.m., Monday, May 7, at the Boswell Hall Schuler Performing Arts Center on the North Idaho College campus. U-Idaho President M. Duane Nellis will serve as master of ceremonies and longtime Coeur d’Alene attorney Scott Reed will deliver the commencement address. The President’s Medallion will be awarded to Jim Elder, a Coeur d’Alene native.

University of Idaho Launches Largest Capital Campaign in State History. The University of Idaho is making history with its launch of a $225 million comprehensive capital campaign, Inspiring Futures: Invest in the University of Idaho. The effort – the most ambitious ever in Idaho – will guarantee Idaho’s land-grant, research institution is positioned now and in the future to continue to offer internationally competitive education programs from the undergraduate up through the post-doctoral level, while simultaneously driving Idaho’s economic prosperity and addressing the most important issues of the day. The initial, quiet phase of the campaign began in 2007. Since then, 28,403 donors have made gifts totaling $161.8 million, catapulting the campaign more than halfway to its goal. This early success shows the commitment Idaho alumni, faculty, staff, family and friends have to the University of Idaho and its critical role in educating future leaders, Nellis said. Jeffry Stoddard, ’75 and ’76, University of Idaho Foundation, Inc. chairman and campaign co-chair, said: “As the state’s flagship research university, the University of Idaho has done a great job historically of educating young people for successful lives, both professionally and personally, and I think they still do that today. However, the university must find new investments to continue to offer globally competitive education in the 21st century,” said Stoddard, who along with his wife Kristine ’75 and Richard and Sharon Allen, both ’73, are campaign co-chairs.

Bennetts Finance McClure Center Civic And Public Policy Efforts. Dick and Aliede Bennett understand the critical issues facing Idaho communities. As the director and advisor of the Idaho Forest Group and chairman of the board of Bennett Industries, Dick understands the need for education and action surrounding water issues, transportation, energy, science and technology, the impact of growth and development, and land use. Because of his deep commitment to both local communities and the University of Idaho, Bennett Industries has pledged $100,000 to the James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research. “Jim and Louise McClure are two of the most outstanding citizens in the state and represent the best of Idaho,” said Dick, “Jim was noted for trying to find ways to solve problems in Congress. I worked with him many times to help him solve problems for the lumber industry. The McClure Center has been created to solve problems, and I can’t think of a better legacy for Jim McClure as he worked diligently to solve problems for his constituents his entire career.” The McClure Center promotes informed, knowledgeable public policy decisions on these critical issues facing Idaho. This pledge will ensure the University’s’s ability to conduct non-partisan public policy research, increase public dialogue and enhance civic and political science education. If you would like to learn more about supporting the McClure Center, contact Laura Preece, director of development at (208) 885-5013 or

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