From the President: Exciting Time to be a Vandal
It’s an exciting time to be a Vandal.
The last few years have seen big changes at the University of Idaho. New leadership team members have brought renewed energy and ideas to Idaho’s land-grant institution. The next decade will bring even more changes as our forward-looking vision for UI begins to take shape.
Guiding that vision is UI’s new strategic plan, which helps take those ideas from the drafting table to reality — in our research and scholarship, in the way we engage communities, and in the lives of our students. In the coming decade, we will build on our strong foundation to become one of the nation’s great public research universities.
What does UI look like 10 years from now? You can catch a glimpse of that future in the pages of this issue of Here We Have Idaho. One thing is certain: The UI of the future bustles with students. I am dedicated to meeting our state’s demand for college-educated employees and entrepreneurs in our growing economy. We will continue to offer a high-quality education at an affordable price, coupling comparatively low tuition with increased financial aid. UI offered more than $25 million in scholarships for the current academic year.
Bringing in more students isn’t the end game: We also have to improve freshman-to-sophomore retention rates and continue to be a leader in graduation rates. That means improving our student spaces to foster success and aligning pedagogical approaches with an increasingly diverse learning community.
It’s work that has already begun. This summer, UI completed a remodel of the Wallace Residence Center. All students in the center now have updated living spaces. We’ve improved technology in the residence halls to meet student demand and redesigned the first floor of the UI Library to enhance collaborative learning. Our newly reopened College of Education offers technology-enhanced classrooms that are created to adapt as the technology changes, so students will always have access to the newest and best equipment to enhance their learning.
UI will continue excelling as Idaho’s academic leader, with an educational experience that pays off for students. Our students learn by doing, with opportunities for research and scholarship alongside faculty members who are renowned in their disciplines.
Our research mission has supported the economic progress of Idaho and the world for more than 100 years. We currently double all other Idaho institutions combined in research expenditures. We are Idaho’s only "higher research activity" university, as classified by the Carnegie Foundation. Every day, our talented faculty and students contribute insight into ideas that matter for Idaho, in everything from wildfire management to cybersecurity.
We can do more. Over the next 10 years, I want to deepen our research activity and strengthen our leadership in key areas in everything from aquaculture to medical research to the humanities. We’ll focus on work that unites faculty members and students. Work that meets the needs of our partners in industry. Work that leads to invention and innovation that supports our economic growth. We will need to bolster faculty ranks and program areas commensurate with those goals. By 2025, with focused effort and broad commitment, we can be Idaho’s only "highest research activity" university.
Our land-grant mission informs our forward-looking approach to big goals in outreach and engagement across Idaho and beyond. For example, we can leverage our policy and research expertise to change our college-going culture, our statewide Extension network to meet community needs, and our emphasis on service and leadership to make a bigger difference outside our campus. We’ll take on challenges in disciplines that can improve our world.
And we’ll connect with our alumni to ensure we’re leveraging our best strength — the success and passion of our Vandal graduates.
Chuck Staben, President