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

February 15, 2013

Dear friends,

When the first classes began at the University of Idaho in 1892, many thought the university would struggle. Certainly, a liberal education with a heavy emphasis in agricultural or engineering sciences seemed appealing, but pundits thought it would take years before Idahoans recognized the advantages of these educational opportunities.

They were wrong.

The student body doubled between the first and second semesters. It would grow again by 76 percent by the beginning of the second academic year.

Idahoans sought the tangible advantages that come with an education that included the STEM disciplines, meaning those in science, technology, engineering and math.

Sadly, many K-12 students today have limited access to STEM classes or their limited experiences lead them to take only the minimum number of STEM classes – we seek to change that.

The reason for engaging in more effective STEM education is simple. It improves minds and lives. STEM classes help develop disciplined thinking and analytical skills. They also provide tools for many other disciplines and professions. Math, for example, is essential in almost every pursuit. It and the other elements of STEM also generate innovations that fuel our economy.

The United States has led the world in innovation – in large part thanks to STEM education. The University of Idaho is committed to continuing that success.

There’s also immediate impact for our students, because STEM skills open doors. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor projects 15 of today’s 20 fastest growing occupations require significant preparation in mathematics or science. Consequently, we’re committed to helping U-Idaho students succeed in these areas.

As the state leader in STEM education (we graduate over 50% of the STEM degrees), we’re committed to preparing the next generation of STEM professionals by increasing participation in STEM classes offered pre-K through high school. This includes a significant commitment to working with Idaho’s educators to better prepare future college students for success.

This includes establishing our university as the state leader in mathematics education reform that extends successes like our Polya Mathematics Lab and our Distance and Extended Education program to provide more math classes for Idaho’s high school students.

Together, these efforts will benefit all students while increasing opportunities for college-bound students to enter and succeed in college STEM programs.

We’re also looking to extend the STEM expertise found in our College of Natural Resources, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, College of Science, and the College of Engineering faculty through a partnership with faculty in our College of Education. The aim is to increase integrated research, education and recognition programs.

We’re committed to inspiring futures and this is one more way that we invest in our students and our state.


M. Duane Nellis

President Nellis Announces The Creation of Two Task Forces. University of Idaho President M. Duane Nellis continues to demonstrate his commitment to reassuring campus safety. As part of this commitment, he announced yesterday the formation of two task forces to evaluate university policies regarding alcohol and substance abuse among students university-wide and to examine the university’s relationship with fraternities and sororities.

The Substance Abuse Task Force will assess the university and community climate, and it will undertake a thorough review of prevention education programs, enforcement strategies, environmental factors and current policies. The review panel will be composed of faculty, staff, students and community leaders. The task force will be led by Bruce Pitman, vice provost for student affairs and dean of students. The report will be completed by late spring.

“Losing one of our students for any reason is a tragedy, and the entire university community is deeply saddened,” said Nellis. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done to keep our campus safe and healthy. We are rated in the top 35 safest campuses nationally. While it is true that substance abuse is a complex national problem that we’re not immune from; it is our duty, because of the deep responsibility we feel to students and their families, to regularly examine how we handle these issues so that we can do everything possible to help our students make wise choices that allow them to remain safe.”

The Greek Life Task Force, which will review the University of Idaho’s relationship with fraternities and sororities and their national chapters, includes leading university alumni, leaders in higher education and leadership of the national organizations that have fraternities and sororities located at the University of Idaho. This review panel will review, evaluate and examine the fundamental relationship the university has with the Greek system. The task force will be led by co-chairs Carl Berry and Francis Ellsworth. The report will be completed by late spring.

“We care about our students, and we invest heavily in proactive educational programs and initiatives that promote the best outcomes for them,” said Pitman. “We will conduct a thorough examination and critical analysis of the university’s relationship with our fraternities and sororities with the aim of recommending changes that enhance student learning, health and safety.”

46th Annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival Features New Guests, Scores. For more than four soulful decades, the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival has inspired futures through jazz music and jazz education. Some of the highlights of this year's festival include well-known artists and special arrangements.

The festival has planned something very special for Friday night’s show – a jazz violin trio. Festival artistic director John Clayton proposed the idea to three virtuoso jazz violinists, Regina Carter, Sara Caswell and Aaron Weinstein. While the three violinists know each other, they have never performed together as a group and jumped at the chance to perform together. They even persuaded Clayton to compose two songs for the concert and asked him to join them onstage for their closing number. Also appearing on Friday evening will be jazz vocal group TAKE 6 and the Jeff Hamilton Trio.

Vibraphone player Warren Wolf will appear with the Lionel Hampton Youth Jazz Orchestra on Saturday, Feb. 23.Wolf was selected as the vibes player for this year’s festival, upholding the tradition established by the festival’s namesake and early vibes pioneer, Lionel Hampton. Also appearing with the Youth Jazz Orchestra will be Dutch vocalist Traincha Oosterhuis. Saxophonist and band leader Maceo Parker will close the evening. Read more

Potlatch Corporation Proudly Supports Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival’s Jazz In The Schools Program. The Potlatch Corporation has a long tradition of philanthropic giving to the University of Idaho, including support of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. This year the corporation is pleased to sponsor the festival’s Jazz in the Schools Program.

“The sense of community and the opportunity to be part of what’s important to our employees and our communities is integral to what we do,” said Potlatch Corporation’s vice president for public affairs, Mark Benson. “Potlatch Corporation is a verified leader in sustainable forestry. With approximately 1.43 million acres certified to FSC® standards, they grow trees, sell timber, and manufacture solid wood products. As a member of many communities in Northern Idaho and across the country, we are keenly aware of our role in contributing to the well-being of the places where we live and do business,” continued Benson. “Our support of the Jazz in the Schools Program fits perfectly with this mission.”

Jazz in the Schools, the festival’s community outreach program, brings jazz into classrooms throughout the Northwest, and provides K-12 educators and students with jazz education materials, activities and an interactive presentation with master musicians and educators. For more information on giving to the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, contact James Brownson at (208) 885-0116 or