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

May 17, 2013

Dear Friends,

Passion and knowledge bring success, though passion makes all the difference.

As Anthony Robbins said: “There is no greatness without a passion to be great, whether it’s the aspiration of an athlete or an artist, a scientist, a parent, or a business person.”

Our commencement speaker on Saturday echoed this in his own way.

Jim Lemley, a 1988 marketing alumnus and second generation Vandal, shared his journey from student to entertainment star.

He called himself a spectacularly mediocre student. Even though he was never an academic all-star, he went on to produce critically acclaimed films. In 11 years, he also rose to be the CEO of Icon Productions.

Lemley told the audience that after graduation it’s not the GPA that matters ­– but what one does. Passion that inspires perseverance fuels success.

“Life will tell you what you need to hear, it will tell you the truth,” said Lemley. “You just have to open your ears and hear it and practice hearing it and get better at interpreting what it's telling you...The harder part of the equation is having the courage to follow the path it is telling you, because it might fly in the face of all that you think you know.”

University of Idaho students don’t come seeking pretense or Ivy League titles. Most come because they’re hard-working pragmatists who know a great thing when they see it. Our university seeks to educate students while spurring their passion for the future. We’re also one of the most affordable national universities in the country. This spells affordable success.

We seek to inspire futures through practical experience, research, and service. This helps put passion into the knowledge gained in the classroom. Consider just a few of this year’s outstanding students.

Keith Witkoe, a junior and 2013 Goldwater Scholar, has always been interested in science and engineering. It was the opportunity to do research as an undergraduate, the programs offered and the professors here that helped him choose the University of Idaho.

"I'm really glad that I chose to come here," he said recently. "Earning a Goldwater Scholarship really shows that what I am doing here is nationally competitive."

Sophomore and 2013 Goldwater Scholar LaVerne Winzer has seen the same thing in physics. “I’m not sure which area of physics I want to go into yet, but I’m gaining valuable experience in some major areas,” she said. “It’s easy to get involved in research as an undergraduate here because the professors are very open to giving inexperienced students opportunities.”

She began researching as a freshman by simply sharing her interest with her professors. She is also in Circle K Club volunteer efforts, Alternative Service Breaks, tutoring student-athletes and competing on the Master’s Swim Team.

“I feel like I’m set up really well for where I want to go,” she said

Students succeed here. Some come with passion, and we help fan the flames. Others find their passion here. Others take the knowledge they gain here to find their passion after graduation, but there is no doubt that Vandals are winners!


M. Duane Nellis

P.S. You can watch the Moscow commencement here

University of Idaho Library Releases Digital Collection of Historical Northwest Postcards. The University of Idaho Library’s Digital Initiatives Department has released a new collection of more than 800 digitized postcards featuring images of the late nineteenth and early to mid-twentieth century Northwestern United States. The Northwest Historical Postcards Collection displays unique and engaging images of people and places in the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, and provinces of British Columbia, Canada and Alberta, Canada. The collection includes rare depictions of turn-of-the-century buildings, thriving mining towns that later became ghost towns and Mount St. Helens before the eruption. See more.

Library Announces Gift of Limited Edition Pennyroyal Caxton Bible. The University of Idaho Library’s Special Collections and Archives department announces the addition of a two-volume Limited Edition Pennyroyal Caxton Bible donated by Bruce and Suzie Kovner, arts patrons and philanthropists. This edition of the King James Version of the Holy Bible is illustrated by Barry Moser, the foremost American master of wood engravings. It is the first illustrated Bible of its kind since Gustave Doré’s edition of the Le Saint Bible in 1865. Read more.

Featherstones Serve As Pillars Of Operation Education Through Their Giving. Wray '63 and Barbara Ware '65 Featherstone have a long tradition of supporting the University of Idaho. Beginning with a $10 donation in 1977, they cumulatively have given nearly $200,000 to support various university initiatives, including establishing three endowments created to honor family members.

The Featherstones were also among the very first contributors to Operation Education, the University’s signature scholarship program for returning veterans with disabilities incurred while on active duty. Recently, the Featherstones encouraged the establishment of the Veteran's Advisor Emergency Fund for Operation Education and contributed the fund’s first $1,000. Wray said, "After having lost a number of Air Force fighter pilots I trained, as well as other friends in the Vietnam war, Barbara and I see Operation Education as the perfect way to personally express our appreciation for the sacrifices made by our veterans and give them the welcome home they deserve. 

Since Operation Education began in 2006, the Featherstones have remained active supporters by giving of their resources and of their time. For example, they’ve encouraged other donors to join and they’ve worked diligently as members of the Operation Education Advisory Council. They are also members of the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences Advisory Council and have actively participated in the Inspiring Futures Capital Campaign. Given their many interests, they found giving easier through an automatic monthly distribution from their credit card that disperses funds to the various U-Idaho causes they believe in. To learn more about Operation Education, contact Ed McBride at (208) 885-9026 or