From the President: Improving Idaho’s College-Going Rate Core to UI’s Mission
Over the past year I’ve had the opportunity to visit Idaho high schools and talk with students about going to college. I heard a lot of excitement about the future — young women and men looking forward to the adventure of growing as people, gaining new skills and launching themselves into a fulfilling career. I’ve also heard trepidation, mostly centered on things like cost and confusion about process. That’s not surprising — the state of Idaho lags in college-going rates, and the challenges that drive those rates pop up when talking to our secondary students, even the most well-prepared.
Why does that matter so much to the University of Idaho? Our role as a great research university with a land-grant heritage and mission means we have a special charge to serve the students of Idaho and beyond. That means being a leader not just in academic excellence and in graduate outcomes, but also in access and affordability so that more students can benefit from that excellence. Postsecondary education is the pathway to a great future for most people in this day and age — whether a professional certificate or a four-year degree, extended training is the ticket to lifelong success. Higher education is also a more affordable investment than many realize, one that pays off many times over throughout a lifetime.
UI has placed renewed focus on communicating the value of the college experience — and the degree that comes with it — while making our processes easier to navigate. You’ll read about some of that work in the pages of this issue of Here We Have Idaho magazine: the Direct Admissions program in collaboration with the State Board of Education, the creation of our Student Success Initiative, the focus on non-traditional learning and the expansion of key programs statewide.
Knowing that Vandal excellence doesn’t stop at the state line, we’re reaching out beyond Idaho with a partnership to increase our international footprint, as well as expanding the Western Undergraduate Exchange program for Washington and Oregon residents. Our alumni are joining us in these efforts, sharing their UI experience and professional success with potential students and their families.
Importantly for me, in this issue you’ll meet some of our students who faced their own challenges and hurdles in getting to college. But they persevered, and I am proud that our institution rewarded their courage. I hope you’ll find their stories as inspiring as I do. If we keep working hard, and keep thinking outside the box, I am confident that in the near future we’ll be reading the stories of some of the young people I met in Moscow and in Sandpoint. I am confident they will be joined by many others, from Meridian or Soda Springs, Mountain Home or St. Maries, and from all of our 50 states and abroad.
Chuck Staben, President