From the President: Entrepreneurship and Innovation
This issue of Here We Have Idaho magazine focuses on how the University of Idaho supports innovation, industry and the economy. I spell that out right upfront because I’m excited about a theme that connects the interrelated components of our land-grant mission. U of I boasts teaching and learning that changes lives, research and scholarship that make an impact, and a statewide outreach and engagement presence.
To make progress on the critical challenges of today and tomorrow, U of I is exercising its leadership to help our state and world grow and prosper. A close look at our university’s programs, our people and our initiatives — the kind of view you’ll get in this issue of Here We Have Idaho magazine — finds U of I seizing those opportunities in dynamic, exciting ways.
Students are at the center of that success story for helping our world prosper. At our Administration Building, you'll find a plaque mounted in the entryway. For more than four years it has been an honor to walk by this inscription and be reminded of our forward-looking mission: “Erected by the Commonwealth of Idaho for the training of her future citizens to their highest usefulness in private life and public service.” Those are lofty ideals, but they also emphasize practicality and hard work.
You’ll find no ivory towers in Moscow or any of our statewide locations. We hold our doors wide open to students and community members from all walks of life, and we’re proud of the hands-on, practical education students experience and help shape.
You’ll see what I mean as you read about students taking on a design-build project at a Caldwell winery. You can also see it in the work of alumna Payton McGriff, whose entrepreneurship provides school uniforms, health care and scholarships to students in Togo. And it’s prevalent in the efforts of a group of fraternity brothers who took skills and money gleaned from student business competitions to create Safeguard Equipment, a business that's working to save lives in the utility industry.
In fact, if you’re measuring economic impact, as we have done, you’ll find that the primary contribution U of I makes to our economy is an educated and engaged workforce — Vandal graduates leave U of I ready to lead and succeed.
Our research enterprise and our Extension efforts also come together to make a difference for economic vitality. In my presidency, this direct engagement has been a special point of emphasis. We’ve carved out a new Office of Economic Development and an Office of Technology Transfer to more effectively connect our research expertise with the strong demand for innovation and development. As just one example here, Idaho’s abundant agricultural sector — whether it’s the wheat fields of the Palouse or the farm fields of the Magic Valley — offers proof positive of U of I success in crop development and industry partnership.
Spurring economic development and prosperity presents a tall order for any institution. But anchored by our land-grant mission, we’re finding new ways to help students, industries and communities succeed. We’ll continue to confidently build on that tradition of excellence.
Chuck Staben, President