President's Office

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

The Friday Letter

May 25, 2012

Dear Friends,

          In recent studies spanning 150 countries, people have identified five universal factors that are the basis for their sense of wellbeing. These include career success, financial access, health/safety, personal relationships, and social engagement. Higher education can positively impact them all.

          These factors can be presented in a relatively simple way. People whose health is good or can be managed and who live in relative safety find their lives more meaningful when they’re engaged in meaningful work. When individuals have this as well as the resources to meet their needs and to experience some things beyond their routines, then the final, and most important factor is that of social engagement – helping others in a positive social network.

          Those who attain bachelor’s degree, on average, earn substantially more than even those with some college education and far more than high school graduates or dropouts. Relative to those with a bachelor’s degree, a postgraduate degree provides nearly as large a boost in earnings.

          Further, college graduates commit fewer crimes, live healthier lifestyles, use unemployment and welfare resources less, and engage in more volunteer and civic activities. Fundamentally, college graduates give more and take less across the board while, on average, finding themselves better off in each of the five areas of wellbeing.

          These benefits also tend to pass to their children, even if they don’t attain the same degree of education. The benefits also flow to the extended community whose lives are touched by the graduates.

          Empirical studies show that after controlling for differences in benefits and individual wages, an increase in the number of college graduates in the labor force tends to increase productivity and wages for all workers. College graduates not only add to the bottom-line and improve the return on taxes, but they also give more of their wealth and their time to help others.

          This year we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Morrill “Land Grant” Act, which democratized higher education for all Americans, regardless of socio-economic, ethnic or geographic circumstances. From this impetus and through the efforts of many loyal Vandals, we’ve seen the positive effects provided by expanded access to life-changing higher education. As the post-commencement congratulations abate and our graduates transition to start jobs, found businesses, or further education, the promise remains. Empirical evidence shows their lives will be better for the commitment they’ve already made and so will the lives of others.

          As Donald Clifton wrote, “The fabric of our lives is constructed person by person. As our relationships increase, we benefit geometrically. Our lives become richer, and we expand our strengths through others.”

          That’s why I’m committed to the mission of the University of Idaho. Together, we’re investing in brighter futures for our graduates, their families, their communities, and the world. Thanks for your commitment to our university.


M. Duane Nellis

P.S. As schedules become more fluid and our public events less frequent, the Friday Letter will be sent to you monthly until early August.

Here's the latest news from the University of Idaho

City Of Moscow, University Join To Build Transit Center. The University of Idaho and the City of Moscow broke ground Wednesday on a new intermodal transit center located on the campus at the intersection of Sweet Ave. and Railroad Ave. The intermodal transit center will serve as a link between transportation service providers across the Palouse. The 6,300 square foot transit facility will feature a foot passenger loading zone, secure parking for buses and bicycles, access for taxis, vanpools, and carpools, expanded pedestrian and bicyclist accessibility and a link to Paradise Path. The facility will provide vehicle and bus stalls to link services provided by the city’s public transit provider, Moscow Valley Transit, the University’s Vandal Shuttle and regional bus service from Northwest Trailways. The $2 million cost of construction (including design) will be funded by a $1.5 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, other existing Federal Transit Administration grant awards, and city match funds. Planners expect the project to be completed during the winter of 2012-2013. See more.

Thirteen U-Idaho track and field athletes officially advanced to the NCAA West Preliminary Round. Seven Idaho men and six Idaho women will make the trip to Austin, Texas, to compete in the preliminary rounds of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships that began Thursday. Representing the Vandal men are freshman Benjamin Ayesu-Attah (400m), senior Stephane Colle (5000m), senior Andrew Blaser (110m hurdles), sophomore Andrey Levkiv (shot put), sophomore Kyle Rothwell (hammer throw), junior Mike Marshall (javelin) and sophomore Ugis Svazs (javelin). Vandal women making the trip are senior Erica Digby (1500m), sophomore Alycia Butterworth (3000m steeplechase), junior Kristine Leonard (discus throw), senior Gabby Midles (hammer throw), junior Sarah Nutsch (hammer throw) and junior Ellen Rouse (javelin). Among Idaho’s group, Midles is a three-time qualifier, while Blaser and Butterworth are repeat qualifiers. The top 48 athletes in each event advance to the NCAA Preliminary Round. The top 12 finishers in each event advance to the national finals June 6-9 at Des Moines, Iowa. The NCAA Preliminary Round system replaced the Regional Championships in 2009. See more.

Elgs Invest In Student Investors. Annette ’78 and Brad ’78 Elg recently gave $100,000 to the Barker Capital Management and Trading Program in the College of Business and Economics (CBE). “Brad and I are pleased to be able to give back to the University that gave so much to us,” Annette shared. “The students that participate in the Barker Trading Program are given a unique opportunity to experience real world situations that make them better students and ultimately better business professionals.” The Elgs, Idaho natives, both graduated from Idaho with degrees in accounting. Currently, Annette is the senior vice president and chief financial officer of the J.R. Simplot Company – one of the world’s largest private agribusiness corporations. She has also been involved with the Idaho Community Foundation board of directors, the Boise Art Museum board of trustees and served as president of the board of directors for Ballet Idaho. Annette also serves on the CBE Advisory Board and was recently honored with the U-Idaho Silver and Gold Professional Achievement award. Dean Mario Reyes said, “An investment in this signature experiential learning program will help us grow and develop this unique curriculum that attracts top students from around the country. Many thanks to the Elgs sharing this gift with us.” For information about giving to the College of Business and Economics, contact Chandra Ford at (208) 890-2370 or