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Friday Letter Archive

The Friday Letter is U of I’s long-running, weekly message straight from the president to members of the Vandal family. Each week during the academic year, and with breaks for holidays, the president offers an update on Vandal teaching and learning, research and scholarship, and notable initiatives and priorities. Alumni and friends are welcome to join students, faculty and staff in receiving the newsletter.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
November 11, 2022
Dear Vandals,

After 10 years serving in the Navy, including many leading a team responsible for the network services of more than 300 surface ships at the Pacific Region Network Operations Center, Alex Banks needed a change of pace.

He was overqualified for most entry level jobs, and knew he needed a college degree to pursue his career goals. He reached out to other universities in Idaho, who often referred him to their websites for more information. Then he visited the University of Idaho, personally spoke to a professor in the College of Business and Economics, and knew within a few minutes he was destined to be a Vandal.

“He recognized right away that I wasn’t a typical undergraduate student and he just started asking me about myself,” said Banks, who graduated from Centennial High in Boise in 2006. “He referred me to other staff on campus and everyone I met with was very helpful. I just got that warm, fuzzy feeling when I visited the U of I.”

That personal touch is one reason the U of I is ranked No. 3 in the Northwest in Military Times’ Best for Vets rankings. Another reason is the Military and Veteran Services Office, which helps students navigate Veterans Affairs education benefits, provides holistic support and community.

Banks, a third-generation Navy sailor, suffered from depression and anxiety following his military service. He qualified for the Operation Education program, which provides individualized scholarship support as well as academic and career planning for veterans with disabilities.

Banks said connecting with his fellow students can be challenging due to the difference in age and life experience. But he’s poured himself into his class work and taken advantage of resources like the Writing Center and drop-in tutoring. After seeing his dedication as a student, Professor Todd Martin encouraged Banks to pursue an internship at Micron in Boise.

Banks spent last summer diving into data analytics at Micron, working on ways to improve efficiency in the company’s manufacturing. He impressed the company and landed a job offer.

“I didn’t think I would like it, but I learned that I really enjoyed analytics,” Banks said. “I enjoy solving puzzles.”

Banks will start his full-time job at Micron after graduation next spring, when he’ll earn degrees in management information systems and operations management. The journey hasn’t always been easy, but Banks is thankful for his support network and the faculty that engaged him on a personal level.

“My professors always felt like they were equals with the students. I never felt intimidated or scared to talk with them,” Banks said. “I’ve learned a ton at the U of I.”

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Extension program equips rural Idahoans with digital skills

The U of I’s new Digital Economy Program is strengthening rural communities by equipping Idaho residents with computer skills to help grow small businesses and facilitate remote work. The state awarded $1.3 million to fund the program for three years.
Learn more.

Briggs lands Idaho Science and Technology Policy Fellowship

Anna Briggs, who earned three degrees including her Ph.D. at the U of I, was selected for the Idaho Science and Technology Policy Fellowship and is spending the year with Idaho’s Legislative Services Offices. The fellowship program places scientists in state government agencies with the goal of bringing scientific expertise to policymaking.
Learn more.

Small returns to her roots in Idaho County

After growing up outside of Grangeville, Meranda Small returned to her hometown as the the University of Idaho Idaho County Extension agent. Small earned her bachelors and master's degrees at the U of I and previously served as an Extension agent in eastern Idaho before starting in Idaho County earlier this year.
Learn more.

Memorial Gym on the U of I campus was built in 1928 to honor Idahoans who died serving their country in World War I.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
October 21, 2022
Dear Vandals,

Now more than ever, the University of Idaho provides opportunities for students to elevate themselves and their families.

We welcomed 1,951 first-year students to the U of I this fall, the largest freshman class on record. It was a 17% increase over last year and the second straight year of significant enrollment growth.

These new students energize our campus. They’re active and engaged. And more than half of them are first-generation college students, meaning they are the first in their family to attend college. These students come seeking education that can change the trajectories of their lives and their communities.

As a high school student, Susana Torres couldn’t picture herself in college until a counselor encouraged her to check out the U of I.

I visited and I fell in love with the campus,“ said Torres, a first-generation student from Idaho Falls. “Through the TRIO program, I was able to find mentors and see how far along they were in their college careers. That helped me realize I could make it.”

Now as a junior, Torres is mentoring students in SSS-TRIO, a support services program that assists students who are first-generation, have a disability, or are from a limited-income home. She also works at the Vandal Success Center, directing students to resources on the third floor of the ISUB, among many other extracurricular activities.

Like many other first-generation students, Torres conquered her share of challenges as a young student. At first, she struggled as a medical science major, but she changed her major to psychology and is now thriving. She still plans to attend medical school.

Encouragement from U of I faculty members, her network in TRIO and her academic advisor Traci Craig helped her overcome the initial challenges in her college career.

“I think it’s really important to find community,” Torres said. “Once you build that and have that support, the resources here are endless.”

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Center unites water educators and advocates: The U of I Coeur d’Alene leads a team of faculty, local leaders and community members in supporting the sustainability of the region’s waterways through the Community Water Resource Center. The center’s programs reach a wide array of people and groups in the community and they’re made possible through partnerships with school districts, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, ski resorts, the Department of Environmental Quality and others.

Federal grant boosts Rinker Rock Creek Ranch's potential: A $1.34 million grant appropriated by Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson will help the U of I make major upgrades Rinker Rock Creek Ranch. The ranch provides hands-on learning for U of I students, faculty, the public and other student groups, and the grant will enhance the Ranch’s facilities and research capabilities.

Griggs earns degree after long hiatus: After two careers and more than 50 years, Thomas Griggs completed his college journey, earning a degree from the U of I College of Engineering. He took advantage of discounted classes for Idahoans over age 60, and with guidance from staff at the U of I Idaho Falls, he completed his degree at age 71.

MacLean Field was located just north of Shattuck Arboretum on the U of I campus from 1914 to 1966, and served as home for Vandal football, baseball and track and field.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
October 14, 2022
Dear Vandals,

Faculty members in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences are truly embracing the land-grant mission as they begin work on the biggest research grant in the history of the University of Idaho.

Professors Jodi Johnson-Maynard and Sanford Eigenbrode wrote the grant proposal, “Climate-Smart Commodities for Idaho: A Public-Private-Tribal Partnership,” which was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The award is worth up to $55 million – more than double the U of I’s previous largest research grant.

A large portion of the funds will flow back into the state economy through incentives to Idaho agriculture producers who employ techniques like no-till farming, precision fertilization, the use of biochar and cover-cropping.

“Research will include monitoring the farms that are implementing the techniques for costs, inputs and effects on productivity and greenhouse gas emissions,” Johnson-Maynard and Eigenbrode said in an email. “By working closely with our farmers and food processors we hope to find solutions that have a high probability of adoption and success.”

The grant’s success relies on many partners, including the Coeur D’Alene and Nez Perce tribes, the Nature Conservancy, the Idaho Association of Conservation Districts and Desert Mountain Beef. The U of I Extension network will also provide support for the project and the researchers envision a community of growers that can help each other improve.

“We hope to encourage peer-to-peer learning among farmers and leverage the knowledge and experience of our Natural Resources Conservation Service colleagues,” Johnson-Maynard and Eigenbrode added.

Over the past year, our faculty had 533 new grant-funded research projects, in addition to the hundreds that they’re already working on. Our research portfolio is a key cog in Idaho’s economy and provides solutions that create a better future for our state.

The research landscape is changing and our faculty continue to punch above their weight. U of I researchers collaborate across colleges and industries. They partner with local businesses, state agencies and non-profit organizations to multiply the impact of their work.

Research contributes to our workforce development as well. More than 60 percent of our undergraduates are in our labs and in the field conducting research that gives them a cutting-edge education and helps them command the highest starting salaries of any public school in Idaho. These experiences help set the U of I apart as most research is reserved for masters and doctoral students at other universities.

The second phase of our capital campaign, launching next week, will shift our focus toward supporting research. Our faculty like Jodi and Sanford engage in life-changing projects, and with our support they’ll be Unstoppable.

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

t-size-adjust: 100% !important;color: #191919;font-family: 'Archivo', Arial, sans-serif !important;font-size: 18px;line-height: 150%;text-align: left;">U of I legal aid clinic works to prevent homelessness: U of I’s housing legal aid clinic partnered with the nonprofit Jesse Tree to help more than 100 tenants in the Boise area avoid eviction. Law professor Jason Dykstra directs the clinic and works with students and Jesse Tree, which provides funds to pay back rent to settle certain cases.

Thomas’ owl box project helps control rodent population: U of I extension agent Jason Thomas is helping keep the vole population in check on agricultural land by helping farmers construct wooden houses for nesting barn owls. Thomas has sold about 150 owl boxes since the effort began and also provides building plans and tips on installing them.

Program aims to aid Vandals in recovery: The Center for Vandal Recovery opened last month on the University of Idaho campus and seeks to provides a community around recovery for students and employees. The Center is an extension of the Latah Recovery Center and offers support for addiction as well as mental health and other issues.

The U of I is the only university in the country with the Vandal mascot. However, several high schools have adopted the Vandals nickname, including Eureka County, Nevada, Van, Texas and McCall-Donnelly, Idaho.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
October 7, 2022
Dear Vandals,

Brooke Blevins brings hands-on knowledge and extensive research and leadership experience to her new position as dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. She specializes in civic education and serves as the co-director for the iEngage Summer Civics Institute, helping to provide high quality, action-oriented civic education experiences to students and teachers.

Prior to joining the U of I, Blevins was the Conwell G. Strickland Endowed Chair of Education and Chair of Curriculum and Instruction at Baylor University.

Hear about her vision for the future of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences in the video below.

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Sacajawea sculpture unveiled in Pitman Center: Hundreds of community members gathered in the Pitman Center last week for the dedication of a 7-foot tall, 600-pound bronze sculpture of Sacajawea. The sculpture, created by Glenna Goodacre, was donated by Rich and Sharon Allen, and plans are underway to find a permanent home for the art on the U of I campus.

U of I doctoral student finds Martian-like landscape in Iceland: U of I graduate student Frank Wroblewski traveled to Iceland over the summer to study glass on hardened lava flows. By using the techniques and knowledge gained, scientists hope to analyze surfaces on Mars or Venus to determine what the past environments may have been like on those planets.

Celebrating 50 years of WWAMI: Idaho’s only public medical school is celebrating 50 years of training physicians in the state this year. The Washington Wyoming Alaska Montana and Idaho (WWAMI) medical education program was proposed by a coalition of governors who sought to bring more doctors into the Northwest. Since 1972, WWAMI has provided doctors to small towns and rural areas that face a shortage of medical professionals.

The U of I men's golf team captured its first tournament championship since 2016 with a victory at the SIUE Dolenc Invitational last month in Madison, Illinois. Freshman Joe Sykes finished fourth individually.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
September 30, 2022
Dear Vandals,

As an engineering student at the University of Idaho in the 1990s, Brian Sielaff struggled to land an internship and gain valuable on-the-job experience prior to graduation. Now as CEO and Managing Member of Tamarack Grove Engineering in Boise, Sielaff aims to offer internships to as many students as possible, so they can get a head start on their careers.

Tamarack Grove is among the more than 215 employers headed to Moscow for next week's Fall Career Fair in the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center. They’re seeking out Vandals for employment, internships and co-op programs.

“We’ve been really impressed with the caliber of students at the U of I,” said Sielaff, who serves on the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Advisory Board. “The No. 1 thing for me in evaluating potential future hires is personality. One of the things I’ve seen from the U of I is well-rounded individuals who can communicate well, know how to work in a team and know how to present their work.”

Red Aspen is another growing company in the Treasure Valley that looks to the U of I for reliable employees. Co-owner Amanda Moore is a Vandal alumnae and she’s helped build an impressive beauty brand that employs about 60 people and recently broke ground on its new 30,000 square-foot company headquarters in Meridian. 

“I’ve loved my experience with students at the U of I,” said Jazlyn Olmedo, who's represented Red Aspen at three U of I Career Fairs. “We have a bright pink booth that really stands out and gets people to come visit us. The students we’ve spoken with are very professional, very prepared. They know how to start conversations and many of them have done their research, which is very impressive.”

Sielaff believes internships are essential, so students can identify what type of organization they’d like to work for and the field in which they’d like to specialize.

“I think it’s really important for undergraduates to get plugged in with an internship and answer some of those career questions earlier,” said Sielaff.

Red Aspen employed two interns from the U of I last summer. One stayed on as an intern and was promised a permanent position upon graduation. 

Tamarack Grove aims to grow from about 40 employees to more than 60 within the next five years, and Sielaff said their internship program and connection with the U of I are essential for the company.

“We’re definitely growing and it seems like every company needs to hire five people right now,” he said. “The U of I Career Fair is really important for us. It's all about planting seeds, developing relationships and maintaining the pipeline of talent.”

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Best-selling author to honor Women's Center 50th anniversary: The U of I Women’s Center is hosting Ijeoma Oluo as the keynote speaker to honor the Center’s 50th anniversary. The New York Times best-selling author of, “So You Want to Talk About Race,” will speak at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at ICCU Arena. Oluo’s popular book is the U of I’s Common Read for 2022-23.

Idaho WWAMI building named in donor's honor: The building that houses the U of I WWAMI program was dedicated as the D.A. Huckabay M.D. Medical Education Building in honor of the Huckabay family, which has donated $14 million to support Idaho residents going into the medical field.

Rangeland Center hosting Fall Forum Oct. 6-7: The College of Natural Resources is partnering with the McClure Center for Public Policy Research and the Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust for the Rangeland Fall Forum, which will focus on sharing knowledge and resources for making conservation work for Idaho’s rangelands. The event will take place at the Stephens Performing Arts Center on the Idaho State University campus.

The U of I initiated its homecoming celebration in 1909 to encourage alumni to return to campus. The Vandals played Washington State in the inaugural homecoming football game, losing 19-0.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
September 23, 2022
Dear Vandals,

Kira Witte aspires to one day practice medicine in her hometown of Emstek, Germany. She also strives to reach her immense potential as a soccer goalkeeper.

Thanks to sharp scouting by the University of Idaho soccer coaching staff and scholarship support through the Vandal Scholarship Fund, Witte can do both. She’s studying medical science in Moscow while helping the Vandals chase a Big Sky championship.

Last year, Witte played professionally for Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga – Germany’s first division. She started just one game all season – against world soccer power Bayern Munich. While she showed promise, Witte knew juggling pro sports and a university schedule was not a realistic option, so she reached out to friends who had pursued college athletics in the United States.

“I talked with my friends who were playing in the U.S. and they loved it,” Witte said.

She met with Associate Head Coach Sean Mapson on Zoom and committed to the Vandals sight unseen. Witte appreciates Moscow’s small-town feel, which reminds her of Emstek. Her teammates welcomed her right away and she’s spearheaded the Vandals’ early success this fall with seven shutouts in eight games. Witte anchors a stout defense, and Maddy Lasher, a junior from Post Falls, is a catalyst on offense for the Vandals, who carry a 5-1-2 record into Big Sky play.

“Our defense is playing really well, so I don’t have to do too much,” Witte said. “We knew we would have a good team, but I don’t think we expected to do this well so early. It’s our aim to fight for the (Big Sky) title.”

The Vandal Scholarship Fund (VSF) enables the U of I to give scholarships to student-athletes like Witte. Last year, more than 2,000 individuals donated to the VSF, raising more than $1.5 million toward athletic scholarships.

As the country celebrates 50 years of Title IX this year, support for women’s athletics is especially critical. Nationally, participation has increased from 29,977 women competing in 1972 to 215,486 in 2021. Numerous studies outline the short and long-term benefits of competing in NCAA athletics, from developing time management skills to improved physical fitness and social skills.

Athletic Director Terry Gawlik witnessed the athletics landscape change throughout her life.

“Title IX certainly changed my life,” Gawlik said. “I was able to play, coach collegiately, become a sports administrator and now serve here at the University of Idaho because Title IX opened so many doors.”

Scholarships go hand in hand with the Title IX law, opening tremendous opportunities to play sports at a high level and develop skills that lead to rewarding careers. And increased support helps the U of I compete for championships.

“No matter if a student is from Emstek, Germany, or Eagle, Idaho,” Gawlik said, “VSF donors make a transformational impact in lives here in the Gem State, across the U.S. and worldwide, for generations.”

Freshman goalkeeper Kira Witte
Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

U of I professor makes waves with smoke microbe research: Professor Leda Kobziar is pioneering research into living microorganisms found in forest fire smoke, or pyroaerobiology. Along with a team of students and scientists from other universities, Kobziar studies the ecological and pathological effects of airborne bacteria and fungi released into the atmosphere during wildfires.

Theatre students to present play readings online: Students from the Department of Theatre Arts will present free staged readings of original plays this weekend. The plays are part of the First Bite New Play Development Series and will be presented online by students. Registration is required to view the readings.

U of I senior gets a jump on her career through co-op program: Lian Koeppel, a senior at the U of I, already secured a job offer from Micron after making a great impression working with the company’s Talent Acquisition and University Relations and Sourcing teams during a seven-month co-op program, the first offered by the College of Business and Economics.

In her first collegiate tennis tournament, U of I freshman Valentina Rodas took the singles title at the ITA Bedford Cup in Colorado last weekend. Rodas posted a 4-0 record in the tournament. 

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
September 16, 2022
Dear Vandals,

William Borah would no doubt beam with pride at the lineup of leaders and dignitaries making their way to the University of Idaho campus this month. The symposium named in the late senator’s honor hosts a tripleheader of keynote speakers as it celebrates 75 years of enriching discussion surrounding war and peace.

The Borah Symposium comes on the heels of the Idaho Asia Institute’s “Remembering Hiroshima” events and the College of Law’s Bellwood Memorial Lecture, which featured U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Barchas Prelogar. They provided incredible engagement for the campus community and the symposium aims to do the same.

“The symposium provides a system of engagement that gives us reminders of the things that are necessary for long term peace,” said Bill Smith, director of the Borah Foundation, which sponsors the symposium. “The Borah Foundation was established between the world wars, and the symposium addresses issues that reach every corner of Idaho.”

Borah served in the U.S. senate for 33 years and Time magazine once called him, “the most famed senator of the century.” Nicknamed the “Lion of Idaho,” Borah chaired the Foreign Relations Committee for 10 years. The powerful Republican was roundly respected on both sides of the aisle, demonstrated by Democratic first lady Eleanor Roosevelt delivering the inaugural keynote at the Borah Symposium in 1938.

The symposium became an annual event in 1948 and is planned by a faculty-student committee. Over the years, speakers such as Frank Church and Thurgood Marshall inspired the community to consider the causes of war and the conditions necessary for lasting peace.

This year’s event, “75 Years on Behalf of Peace,” begins Sept. 22 with a panel discussion. Francisco Rafael Sagasti Hochhausler, the former president of Peru, will speak on Sept. 27. Lieutenant General Erik Peterson, a U of I alumnus and current Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8 in the U.S. Army, will discuss “War and Peace in the 21st Century” on Sept. 28. The closing keynote later that day, Prince Zeid Bin Ra'ad, of Jordan, former UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, will address, “Global Challenges to Human Rights Today."

While students are one of the audiences for the symposium, Smith is proud of the event’s legacy of spurring lifelong learning in the community. The prominent speakers bring diverse backgrounds, and their visits often have long-lasting impacts.

“This is an event where the broader impact is really meaningful,” Smith said. “Through these discussions we can examine how global conflict arises and the things that are necessary for long term peace. It really provides a value that’s different from what’s programmed at other universities.”

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

U of I team improving firefighters' fuel: University of Idaho professors and students are working together to improve firefighter nutrition. Professors Ann Brown and Annie Roe, along with postdoctoral fellow Samantha Brooks and masters student Heidi Holubetz have recommended a better variety of food selections, better electrolyte balances in food and drinks, and foods with higher amounts of Vitamins A, D, E, K and magnesium.

Dixon chases new career goal at U of I: Jon Dixon was on track to become a real estate agent before the pandemic prompted a career change and led him to the U of I to study wildlife biology. He moved from Alabama to Idaho and is conducting research on Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits.

Upgrades await fans at Vandal football opener: The Kibbie Dome will feature several upgrades for Vandal fans when the U of I hosts Drake in its home debut at noon Saturday. The dome has a new Musco Lighting LED system, concessions upgrades, a VIP Field Experience, pre-game entertainment featuring the Sound of Idaho Marching Band, and new video board software for the east side screen.

Freshman goalkeeper Kira Witte and junior forward Maddy Lasher were named Big Sky Players of the Week after leading the Vandal soccer team to wins over Louisiana and UC Santa Barbara last week.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
September 9, 2022
Dear Vandals,

When Tanner McClain moved from Kansas to Middleton as a 12-year-old, his grandfather, a devoted U of I alum, took him directly to the Vandal Store in Boise to get him decked out in black and gold.

It was the first of several not-so-subtle nudges toward the U of I from his family. After McClain’s sister Katie came home raving about her experience and the tight-knit community in Moscow, McClain knew he was destined to be a Vandal. Now as president of the Associated Students of the University of Idaho (ASUI), he aims to enhance the on-campus experience and unite all U of I students.

As a freshman in 2020, McClain missed out on many traditional community building events due to Covid-19 restrictions. He wants to rally students around Vandal athletics with an ASUI student tailgate for football games and he’s planning a serpentine walk for home basketball games, among other things.

“After all we’ve been through the last few years, I feel like this is the year for people to really come together,” said McClain, who is a double major in philosophy and political science. “We’re working on improving transportation, bringing recycling back to campus and getting more involved with the food bank. But most of all we want to get people together, get people excited about being Vandals.”

McClain and ASUI also plan to tackle several initiatives this year around sustainability, starting with campus transportation. He intends to promote the use of public transit and Lyft ride-sharing so that students don’t feel like they need to bring a car to campus. He also hopes to improve the campus recycling program. High contamination rates hampered recycling efforts in the past, so McClain is planning an educational campaign to remind students how to effectively use the bins around campus.

ASUI’s plans supporting sustainability embody the university’s broader goals. Sustainable Solutions is one of the Brave. Bold. Unstoppable. fundraising campaign themes. Sustainability Director Sarah Dawson joined the U of I staff this fall to lead initiatives and build momentum in this area.

Just a few weeks into leading ASUI, McClain appreciates the chance to make a difference for his classmates and future Vandals.

“I think the biggest surprise since being involved in ASUI is how much the student voice matters,” said McClain. “The leadership really listens and ASUI can be very influential in the decision making process.”

ASUI President Tanner McClain

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

New telescope sharpens Vandals’ focus on astronomy: The U of I will unveil a new telescope this weekend with Star Parties on Friday and Saturday. A new 20-inch imaging Dall-Kirkham telescope is installed at the observatory, replacing the old telescope that was purchased in 1962.

Students gain skills, experience through Moscow PD cadet program: The Moscow Police Department launched a cadet program to help build up its ranks and give U of I students practical training. Five students are enrolled in the program, which criminology professor Joseph De Angelis helped conceive along with Moscow Police Capt. Anthony Dahlinger.

Club sports abound at U of I: From soccer to logger sports, U of I students can choose from a wide variety of club sports, which provide camaraderie and competition without the demanding schedule of NCAA sports. The U of I currently offers 24 club sports and about 400 students participate each year.

ASUI was founded in 1904 as the U of I's official student body government and provides funding to more than 200 student organizations.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
September 2, 2022
Dear Vandals,

Suzanna Long brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her new position as Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Idaho. She previously served as professor and chair of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology before starting at the U of I in July. Check out the video to meet Dean Long and hear about her vision for engineering at the U of I.

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Scholarships unlock career-shaping research opportunities: The Doris Duke Scholarship provides opportunities for Phoenix Aguilar McFarlane and other students to explore wildlife research. The Doris Duke scholars gain experience, along with connections to fellow researchers and biologists in their fields of interest.

Vandal undergrads work magic in biotechnology program: U of I graduate Tana Rayburn is pursuing her doctorate and tackling major challenges in agriculture after gaining excellent preparation in the biotechnology and plant genomics program.

Amazon program to feature U of I campus, students: "The College Tour,” video crew was on the Moscow campus last week and is preparing a feature on the University of Idaho that will air on Amazon Prime later this year. The show’s goal is to help high school students decide where to attend college.

Senior Fa'Avae Fa'Avae faces his former team on Saturday when the Vandal football team visits Washington State. Fa'Avae transferred to Idaho in 2021 and is a preseason all-conference linebacker.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
August 26, 2022
Dear Vandals,

Main Street in Moscow isn’t on the University of Idaho campus, but it’s always been a special place for Vandals. Homecoming parades, game day celebrations and Saturday mornings at the Farmers Market are woven into the U of I experience.

The fall semester launched on Monday and our residence halls are bursting at the seams with students. Last weekend they enjoyed Palousafest, a rocking Craig Morgan concert and the iconic “I” photo and Vandal Walk, among dozens of other activities on campus. The incoming students are also beginning to uncover the joys and comforts of Moscow.

The picturesque town is the perfect setting for our campus community, providing a great destination for our alumni to gather and celebrate. This weekend, for the first time since 2019, the city, Chamber of Commerce and University of Idaho are sponsoring the Block Party to welcome Vandals back to Moscow.

“This is a great event to get people together and reinforce that we’re partners in this town,” said Moscow Mayor Art Bettge, who graduated from the U of I in 1976 and has lived in town since 1980. “Students are a big part of our community and downtown is here for them to gather and enjoy. We want to provide a better link between the university and the city.”

The city hosts a series of celebrations to bring students and the rest of the community to the “event corridor” on Main Street. Later this semester, the Moscow Chamber of Commerce will host the second annual Moscowberfest, the latest in a series of downtown street parties that are growing in popularity.

This weekend’s Block Party will feature food and drink vendors, a Hula-Hoop challenge versus Vandal student-athletes, drop-in karaoke, speed Jenga and more. The event is free and open to all.

A popular year-round destination, downtown Moscow is especially bustling from May to October. On Saturdays, the Moscow Farmers Market on Main Street attracts thousands of shoppers. It’s been voted the No. 1 farmer’s market in the state and is ranked in the top 10 nationally. Moscow has topped Livability’s list of “Best Places to Raise a Family” numerous times and serves as a tremendous home base for Idaho’s land grant university.

“The U of I is basically the entire southwest quadrant of Moscow and we’re getting closer geographically as real estate is developed,” Bettge said. “It’s important that we work together. There is a lot of overlap between the city and the university and we do depend on each other.”

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President
The Moscow Farmers Market draws thousands of visitors to Main Street each Saturday from May through October.


VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Dixon jumps into research to help restore rabbit population: Jon Dixon found his calling as a wildlife biologist thanks to undergraduate research led by U of I Distinguished Professor Lisette Waits. Dixon plans to continue his research in graduate school, with the goal of becoming a state biologist.

New program incorporates indigenous knowledge into STEM curriculum: Vanessa Stevens, associate professor in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, is leading a project with four Native American tribes to incorporate relationships with the environment and ecosystem into K-12 education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Sandpoint native earns prestigious Goldwater Scholarship: Victor Zhong, a U of I undergraduate from Sandpoint, was one of 450 students nationwide to earn a Goldwater Scholarship. Zhong conducts research on how viruses infect their hosts and the impacts a virus-infected pathogen can have on humans.

Between Aug. 17- 21, new U of I students could take part in more than 20 New Student Orientation events leading up to the first day of classes, including the "I" class photo and the Vandal Walk on Sunday.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
July 15, 2022
Dear Vandals,

When Bryn Martin was a tenured professor at the University of Idaho, he enjoyed training students in biological engineering, but he lamented the fact there were very few jobs in the field in Idaho.

“When I left my full-time faculty position, I knew I wanted to stay connected with the university, and I really enjoyed working with the students,” said Martin, vice president of research, precision delivery and cerebrospinal fluid sciences at Alcyone Therapeutics. “They’re hard-working, and they bring ingenuity to the projects we’re working on.”

Alcyone develops cutting-edge gene therapy to treat Rett syndrome, a rare genetic neurological disorder that occurs primarily in girls and leads to severe impairments. Martin’s research focuses on Alcyone’s precision delivery platform technology that harnesses the power of cerebral spinal fluid through bioengineering. The dosing and delivery technology is designed to maximize the delivery of the gene therapy to the brain. Every chance he gets, Martin seeks out Vandals to join his team developing this technology in downtown Moscow.

All nine of the company’s Moscow-based employees are Vandals. Alcyone also participates in the U of I’s Co-Op program, in which students alternate semesters of academic study with terms of full-time employment. Martin says co-op Director John Mangiantini excels at matching students with opportunities, and at Alcyone, the undergraduates take on tough challenges.

“We’re small, so the students really get immersed, and they get to do a lot of different things,” Martin said. “We have high expectations, but the students work hard, and at the end they have a lot to show for their time here.”

If the FDA approves Alcyone’s proposed treatment, the company may grow quickly and likely increase its footprint in Moscow. They’re one of many local companies and organizations tapping into the U of I talent stream. Companies like Lightcast (formerly Emsi), Northwest River Supplies, Alturas Analytics and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories regularly hire both graduates and student interns. The Moscow School District, the City of Moscow and the Palouse Clearwater Environmental Institute, among many others, provide part-time jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities for Vandals each year.

“The diversity of employers has really exploded over the past 10 years,” said Eric Anderson, interim director of Career Services for the U of I. “Having access to those businesses is a big part of our recruitment pitch for students. We’re known as a place where students can come to get great experiences to tie into what they are learning in the classroom.”

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

U of I researchers develop robot to help stroke victims: Under the direction of Professor Joel Perry, a group of U of I students is developing robots that can help diagnose issues and assist stroke survivors in regaining mobility.

Tonina releases research on salmon habitat in Idaho: Rising temperatures in headwater streams are a major threat to Idaho's spring chinook salmon, according to the latest research by U of I Professor Daniele Tonina and his team. They used a remote sensing system and hydraullic modeling to predict how conditions will change in Bear Valley Creek, a tributary of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

U of I lands $4.46 million in cybersecurity scholarships: The National Science Foundation's Cybercorps Scholarship for Service Program granted $4.46 million toward cybersecurity scholarships to prepare students at the U of I's Center for Secure and Dependable Systems to work at the highest levels of government.

The Moscow Farmers Market was ranked as the 8th best farmers market in the country and No. 1 in Idaho according to a 2021 poll conducted by the American Farmland Trust.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
June 17, 2022
Dear Vandals,

Professor Jerry Fairley’s Field Geology Methods course could easily be renamed Epic Summer Adventure.

Each year, Fairley teaches his students basic mapping and practical geology skills before leading them on a two-week journey to Utah. The students set up camp, hike near Zion National Park and get hands-on experience identifying geological formations and working together to solve problems.

“The idea is, if you want to pursue geology, now you’ve seen some things in the field and you have something to compare with,” said Fairley, who has taught the course for more than a decade. “It’s very common for students to come to me and say, ‘I can’t believe I didn’t know this before,’ or ‘This is the most I’ve ever learned in a class.’”

The immersive course is one of many unique offerings through U of I’s summer session. More than 2,500 students are taking at least one summer course, a 12.5% increase over last year. For undergraduates, there are 300 courses available, including 159 online. Summer courses vary in length and are held from May through July.

Fairley’s course is open to students in any major who’ve taken an introductory geology course. The students spend one week on campus, learning basic skills, sorting out logistics and preparing for their trip. He said he always includes teaching assistants so that everyone feels safe and supported. The scenic Colorado Plateau region is full of distinct geological features. It's conducive to engaging with the natural world, and for some students, thinking about what their future might look like.

“We really encourage people to learn more and worry less about grades,” Fairley said. “One evening during the trip I’ll talk about job opportunities in the field, preparing for a career, or graduate school.”

Along with practical skills like identifying rocks and learning how to use a map and a compass, students gain an appreciation for using the environment around them as a classroom. Unlike traditional semester classes, summer courses provide more space for intensive and sometimes immersive experiences.

“I would say with all summer classes, it’s a chance to really concentrate on one topic and it makes a huge difference in understanding and performance,” Fairley said. “For undergraduates, during the academic year you’re hopping around from subject to subject and you’re always playing catch up. During the summer you’re focused on one thing and our field camp is really like graduate school.”

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Hermann takes 10th at NCAA Championships: Sophomore Lorenz Hermann finished 10th overall in the 800 meters at the NCAA National Championships last week in Eugene, Ore. Hermann earned second-team All-American honors after breaking the school record in both the 800 (1:46.90) and the 1500 (3:42.11) earlier this spring.

JAMM helps Webb pursue dream career:  John Webb hasn’t graduated yet, but he’s already embarking on his dream career. He will finish his bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism in the fall while working for KHQ-TV in Spokane.

Help us name U of I's online initiative: The U of I has a new online education initiative and it needs a name. Members of the Vandal Family are encouraged to cast their vote for the name that best represents our outstanding online programs. Voting ends on June 24.

U of I's student-run radio station, KUOI 89.3 FM, started in 1945. It operates from the top floor of the Pitman Center and boasts the largest music library of any college station in the Northwest.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
May 13, 2022
Dear Vandals,

The University of Idaho’s land-grant mission takes flight when community-minded people collaborate and use their talents to tackle the challenging issues we face in our state, such as affordable housing.

Construction begins shortly on the first of six one-bedroom homes in the Lupine Flats Project – a cooperative effort between U of I faculty member Randy Teal and his students, the Moscow Affordable Housing Trust and alumnus Mark Engberg.

Mark and his wife Laurie are loaning the capital for the materials interest-free, and donated about $2,700 for tools that Teal and his graduate students are using to build the home over the summer. The project’s multi-pronged purpose includes serving as a model for affordable housing projects in Moscow and beyond.

The students are working as employees of Mark’s company, COLAB Architecture and Urban Design, while gaining tremendous hands-on experience. The plan is to build one home each year. Graduate students in the College of Art and Architecture’s (CAA) Design-Build Program work on designs throughout the school year and then construct the homes in the summer months.

Proceeds from the sale of the first home will fund construction of the second home, and Mark is hopeful by the time the sixth house is built, the project will generate funds that CAA can reinvest in the program.

“It’s really a unique opportunity,” said Mark, whose company is based in Portland. “We hooked up with the Moscow Affordable Housing Trust and they said, ‘Here’s the land, let’s see what we can do.’ It’s a big win for the students and a huge win for all of us.”

The Lupine Flats project is developing on a small parcel along Palouse River Drive in Moscow. Mark hopes the project will inspire other similar projects in town and around the Pacific Northwest, where affordable housing options are limited. And it will definitely give U of I students a tremendous learning experience.

“I think it’s important that students get that experience of developing property beyond the architecture part,” Mark said. “When I come across an architecture graduate with that experience, that’s gold. Or should I say silver and gold!”

Progress on the Lupine Flats project will be shared on social media throughout the summer. The first video posted this week.

The Friday Letter will scale back over the summer months. Look for monthly updates in June and July before we return to our regular weekly updates in August. Enjoy your summer!

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

U of I Extension professor steps up to address mental health: Randy Brooks, Extension professor of forestry, is looking out for his students beyond the classroom. He is certified as a Mental Health First Aid instructor and provides an empathetic ear and helpful resources to students facing challenges, particularly through the pandemic.

U of I grads celebrate despite rain showers:  The U of I celebrated more than 1,100 graduates at commencement ceremonies across the state, including two on the Moscow campus last Saturday. Journalism professor Don Shelton ’76 delivered the commencement address, expressing his appreciation for the graduates’ resilience in challenging times.

Six inducted into U of I Alumni Hall of Fame: The U of I Alumni Association welcomed six new members to the Alumni Hall of Fame in a ceremony last week. Richard Swindell ’72, Brian Hill ’65, Charles T. Ratcliffe ’67, Dennis T. Sauer ’72, Ramesh C. Kumar ’81, and Virginia Brodin Wright ’67, ’69 were honored for their professional achievements.

Team "Guide Time" won the College of Business and Economics’ Idaho Pitch competition last month. Their program tracks the economic impact of guides, outfitters and the clients they bring to communities.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
May 13, 2022
Dear Vandals,

Michael Eze will join more than 1,100 other University of Idaho graduates at commencement ceremonies this weekend, but like many of his peers, he’s gained so much more than his degree over the past four years.

By diving into a buffet of U of I offerings, Michael has collected confidence, experience and education that will allow him to pursue his dreams. He learned about the U of I through the Global Student Success Program, which helps connect international students with U.S. universities. Michael liked what he read about the beautiful campus in a small town, and he was impressed with the U of I’s business programs. As a shy 16-year-old, he moved from Abuja, Nigeria – population 4 million – to Moscow for his freshman year. It didn’t take long for him to break out of his shell.

“In high school I was not really outspoken or very involved,” Michael said. “When I got here, I just went for it. I wanted to get involved on campus, work on my public speaking and make connections.”

Mission accomplished, and then some.

Michael’s resume is already jam-packed and he’s barely 20. For just a sample of his experience: He served on the Student Alumni Relations Board for four years and was the alumni chair for the Homecoming committee, as well as a Vandal Wellbeing Ambassador; he was a resident assistant in the dorms and was the secretary, and then president of the African Student Association; he served as director of Student Resources for ASUI; he was the communication chair for the Society of Black Engineers; in 2020-21, he was the Intern of the Year for Career Services on campus; and as a member of the Campus Visits team, Michael led campus tours and helped recruit new Vandals for the past three years, which was truly impactful.

“Before I applied to be a tour guide, I never saw myself doing that – talking to large crowds and directing different groups,” he said. “But I got good at it, and I saw the lasting impact you have. Sometimes students recognize me on campus from when I gave them a tour and it’s very rewarding.” 

Michael credits professor Scott Metlen for his mentorship and staff members John Mangiantini in Career Services, Danae Nagle with the Campus Visits team and Erick Larson, professor in the College of Business for their guidance throughout his U of I journey. He said former staff members Rachel Otto and Jamie Kieltyka were also crucial in his professional development.

On Saturday, Michael will take home bachelor’s degrees in management information systems and operations management, with a certificate in business analytics. He recently achieved his goal of earning Outstanding Student for four years in a row at the Student Achievement Awards, and he has a job lined up in the finance department at Micron, where he interned last summer.

Ultimately, Michael aims to return to Abuja and open a business to help Nigerian companies transition to digital platforms and improve efficiency. Before then, he hopes to earn a master’s degree and gain relevant work experience. 

Michael’s U of I story wouldn’t be complete without one last extracurricular activity. Two days after commencement he will join fellow Vandals for an Alternative Service Break in Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh. The group will work with community and nonprofit organizations to serve homeless and food insecure individuals. 

“My philosophy is, just give it a try,” Michael said. “If you don’t try, you’ll never know.”

Congratulations to Michael and all of the extraordinary Vandals in the class of 2022!

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Architecture grad embraces community and sustainability: Tyler Schram discovered hands-on experiences that allowed him to sharpen his focus on sustainable design in the College of Art and Architecture. The Boise native worked on designs for a park entryway in his hometown and schools in Togo while earning his master’s degree.

Chobani pledges $1M to support Idaho CAFE: The U of I received a $1 million gift from Chobani for the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE), the nation’s largest research dairy, to be located in Minidoka County.

IKEEP student already giving back to hometown of Fort Hall: Jessica Matsaw is making good on a promise to return and teach the next generation of students in her hometown of Fort Hall. The U of I student discovered a passion for teaching when she worked in the Head Start program in Fort Hall, and after overcoming personal trauma, she is completing her student-teaching at Shoshone-Bannock Junior/Senior High School.

The U of I awarded its first four degrees in 1896. Two women (Stella Maude Allen and Florence May Corbett) and two men (Charles Luther Kirtley and Arthur Prentis Adair) made up the inaugural graduating class.