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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
May 6, 2022
Dear Vandals,

Multiple days and nights adventuring in the wilderness out of cellphone range with strangers in an inflatable raft was the perfect ice breaker for Anika Baker as she set off on her U of I journey.

“Having no technology out there can be scary for a lot of people,” said Baker, who joined a Vandal Ventures rafting trip on the Salmon River last summer. “But you’re doing things all the time, trying to accomplish something every second of the day – paddling through rapids or doing dishes or setting up a tent – so it’s really hard to not get close with people.”

Vandal Ventures helps new students make friends and bond with fellow Vandals before they come to campus. The transition program introduces them to some of the outdoor recreation available in the region and includes personal development elements.

Numerous studies show that outdoor orientation programs help students develop meaningful relationships and a social support network. Participation also fosters commitment to their college goals and increases future involvement on campus – all critical factors in students persisting to graduation.

Over the past four years, Vandal Ventures has made a difference for dozens of students like Anika, who transferred from Cuesta College in California.

“Coming in as a transfer student, I was extra nervous about meeting people,” Anika said. “But I was stoked to go rafting and everyone there came from diverse backgrounds. After one day we came together and we got along really well.”

Anika and two other students on last summer’s rafting trip enjoyed it so much, they joined the U of I Outdoor Program as trip leaders. This summer, incoming Vandals can choose from two Vandal Ventures rafting trips. There’s also a five-day Vandal Ventures backpacking trip through the Seven Devils Wilderness and Mission: Multi-Sport Moscow, which offers students a chance to explore the local area.

Rafting, hiking and other adventures have always appealed to Anika, an environmental science major from Salinas, California. But she said even students who typically prefer indoor pursuits benefit from the U of I’s array of activities through the Outdoor Program.

“I think personal development is really accelerated when you’re in an environment that is a little uncomfortable,” Anika said. “The Outdoors Program staff does a good job of preparing us and then throwing us out there and letting us sort it out, and that really helps escalate the friendships.”

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Vandal Tartan unveiled: The U of I unveiled its official Vandal Tartan (above) this week after 4,000 votes were tallied and the design was registered with The Scottish Register. The VandalStore will stock merchandise featuring the tartan. Scarves and other knit goods will be available later this year.

Sayre invests in his future and his community: Andrew Sayre is headed into the Marine Corps as a second lieutenant after graduation this month. As a U of I student, Sayre not only completed the rigorous Navy ROTC training, but also worked as a teaching assistant, conducted research in WWAMI’s cadaver lab and volunteered in the Moscow community.

In 2012, U of I archeologists working at the Kelly Creek excavation site uncovered human-made tools and implements dating back more than 12,000 years. The site is near the Montana border in Clearwater County.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
April 29, 2022
Dear Vandals,

Jadzia Graves and her teammates started the U of I’s Engineering Design EXPO by helping K-12 students understand their senior capstone design project, letting the students work with a simulated glovebox and explaining how to manipulate objects in an inert environment.

Then Jadzia’s group presented their project, Nuclear Fuel Pin Jacket Production, in front of industry leaders and professionals. The EXPO packs a lot into one day, but as she’s done throughout her U of I career, Jadzia is taking on the challenge with a sharp intellect and endless energy.

Jadzia had her eye on aerospace engineering after graduating from Kuna High School, and she landed an internship at NASA’s Ames Research Center after her sophomore year. But her studies piqued her interest in the Naval Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) that same year, and an internship in 2021 with the company that conducts nuclear engineering for the U.S. Navy sealed the deal. Jadzia appreciated the collaborative culture and mission-oriented atmosphere so much that she accepted a job offer.

After a short summer respite, Jadzia will resume her go-go-go schedule in the fall. She’s starting as a full-time employee at NNL’s Bettis Atomic Laboratory in Pittsburgh, Pa. She also plans to take classes at Carnegie Mellon University to begin work on her master’s degree. 

“I’ve really enjoyed my U of I experience,” Jadzia said. “Engineering is so collaborative and on our capstone project, we’re all go-getters. I know my experience is going to help me in my career.”

Idaho National Laboratory sponsored their capstone project, seeking out students to create a key component for its sodium-cooled fast nuclear reactor. Jadzia and her teammates Julia Bean, Alexander Chambers, Ryan Oliver and Maxwell Vavricka worked on an automated system to extrude sodium wire into a fuel pin jacket – a secure storage container for the highly sensitive material. The team used a glovebox to keep the sodium from reacting with outside elements, and designed an extrusion press to place the sodium in fuel pin jackets.

“Our project is a mix of a normal design project and a research project,” said Jadzia, who will graduate May 14 with bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering. “We’ve had to figure things out together, talk to a lot of people, and try a whole bunch of different ideas to get it right. I’ve definitely learned how to work with different people and look at different sides of the problem.”

The group hopes to have its research published in the Journal of Nuclear Engineering and their work is drawing interest from other companies in addition to INL. It’s a model project for the College of Engineering’s Interdisciplinary Capstone Design Program, which was ranked top seven in the nation by the National Academy of Engineers for infusing real-world experience into engineering education.

Today’s Engineering Design EXPO technical presentations are available to view online.

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Murphy trades restaurants for the medical field: While training to become an emergency medical technician, Molly Murphy discovered a passion for the medical field. After pivoting from the restaurant industry, she’s set her sights on becoming a trauma surgeon thanks to her U of I experience.

'Into the Woods' puts unique spin on fairytale traditions: U of I performers will weave fairytales with fantasy and the human experience in the musical, “Into the Woods.” Performances begin today and continue through May 8 at the Hartung Theater in Moscow. The musical explores the theme of community through traditional fairytale characters and honors late composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

Olmsted's plans inspire architecture students: Students in the U of I’s landscape architecture program presented a plan to extend Hello Walk to Moscow’s downtown area at a workshop last week. The students referred to John Charles Olmsted’s original campus master plan, developed in 1908, to help inform their design for an open, interconnected campus to complement the Administration Building.

The Vandal men’s tennis team earned a share of the 2022 Big Sky Conference regular season title. Idaho is the top seed for the Big Sky Tournament this weekend in Phoenix.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
April 22, 2022
Dear Vandals,

Grant Gassiot arrived on the U of I campus back in 2018 and felt right at home. Since then he's made it his mission to help others settle in and find their place in the Vandal Family.

Grant graduates in a few weeks with his bachelor’s degree in architecture. In the meantime, he’s staying plenty busy as a campus tour guide. U of I’s daily visits have set records every month this year, and March was the busiest month on record, with more than 300 prospective students and nearly 800 total guests. And that doesn’t include the hundreds of students who attended UIdaho Bound – our orientation sessions for admitted students.

Grant shares with prospective students his experience finding lifelong friends in his fraternity and working with faculty on engaging projects. He leads students up Hello Walk and shows them a dorm room in Theophilus Tower. It’s an unlikely role for Grant, who started his college career at Chico State in California, studying biological engineering.

“I wanted to transfer to a school for architecture and I came here and found a friendly campus community right away,” Grant said.

The campus visits team aims to help students visualize themselves at the U of I, and to help them discover the array of academic and extracurricular opportunities on campus. Since a brief shutdown at the onset of the pandemic, campus visits have steadily gained momentum and surpassed pre-pandemic numbers.

Enrollment trends seem to be following that uptick. Freshman enrollment increased more than 16% in the fall of 2021. This spring, applications are up 34% and admissions are up 18% compared to the same time last year. UIdaho Bound also brings students each month throughout the spring and summer to help our newest Vandals prepare for their college careers. More than 420 students are registered for Saturday’s UIdaho Bound event.

“Campus visits, our recruitment staff and the collaboration of the entire campus during UIdaho Bound, as well as our communications throughout the year help turn our admitted students into enrolled students,” said Danae Nagle, assistant director of campus visits.

The night before a recent tour, Grant was up until 2 a.m. working on his senior architecture project – a Habitat for Humanity design competition. But he brought energy and smiles the next morning to greet visiting students. His energy is authentic. Grant plans to stay in Moscow for the summer and remain a Vandal for graduate school.

“When I first came here, I didn’t know anyone in Idaho, but I’ve made friends that will be in my wedding someday.” Grant said. “I want to help the students that come visit find their own community here.”

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

UI junior earns Goldwater Scholarship: Zhenhao “Victor” Zhong, a junior double majoring in biochemistry, and molecular biology and biotechnology, will receive the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship. Zhong was selected from more than 5,000 applicants and will receive up to $7,500 to pay for tuition, fees, books and room and board.

Grad students create consumer workshop on beef quality: College of Agricultural and Life Sciences graduate students Sierra Jepsen, Brooklyn Epperson, Jessie Van Buren and Mikayla Heimbuch are offering a fun and creative class to educate consumers about different meat cuts and meat preparations. The group is developing a learning module so that others can teach the workshop.

Mesplay, Keller land Critical Language Scholarships: Senior Natalie Mesplay is headed to Korea and junior Brock Keller will study in India after they earned Critical Language Scholarships to study foreign languages through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The CLS scholars will spend eight to 10 weeks studying in their respective countries and are expected to apply their critical language skills in future careers.

Vandal Hannah Ringel was named Big Sky Conference Outdoor Field Athlete of the Week after throwing the shot put 15.8 meters at the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Invitational last week.

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

Growing up in the small, historic town of Idaho City, international travel seemed a distant dream for Natalie Miller.

Through scholarship support and an engaging on-campus job at the Martin Institute, Natalie pursued those dreams, and then some. After studying agriculture and animal science for her first three years of college at BYU- Idaho, she transferred to the University of Idaho and pursued her passion for international studies.

Natalie spent a semester abroad in Costa Rica thanks to three U of I donor-funded scholarships – the Kelli Schrand Helping Hand Scholarship Endowment, the Victor and Ruth Skiles Study Abroad Scholarship, and the Mike and Sharon Scott Endowment. This month she participated in the National Model United Nations in New York with support from the Scott Endowment.

Natalie intends to support and encourage the next generation of students to pursue their goals and dreams through a U of I education.

“I’m so pumped to graduate, and I can’t imagine having made it without the scholarships I’ve received,” Natalie said. “Now I can take my degree into the world and hopefully do some good. I want to take the lessons I’ve learned and give that to the next generation and be the support for them that I received through my college experience.”

The Vandal Family has raised nearly $100 million for scholarships and student support through the Brave. Bold. campaign to give students like Natalie life-changing opportunities. Donor support also changes the game for faculty.

Eric Wolbrecht was recently named the Dean and Cindy Haagenson Mechanical Engineering Endowed Professor. He works in U of I’s Assistive Robotics Laboratory developing cutting edge devices and teaming up with hospitals to improve rehabilitation and therapy for stroke survivors.

“An endowment of this kind is a really powerful recruiting tool to continue our development of state-of-the-art research and to enable collaborations with other researchers in the state and across the country,” Wolbrecht said. “The University of Idaho can really elevate its reputation and the quality of its research.”

The endowment also helps in recruiting highly qualified graduate students and talented undergrads. Wolbrecht knows it will take faculty, students, medical professionals and the generosity of donors to tackle the medical field’s challenges.

“We can always achieve more together than we can individually,” Wolbrecht said. “This endowment is part of that legacy.”

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

UI associate dean earns Fulbright award: Lee Thomas Ostrom, associate dean in the College of Engineering, will join a project at Karakalpak State University in Uzbekistan after receiving a Fulbright Specialist Award. The project is designed to exchange knowledge and establish partnerships through a variety of education and training activities within engineering education.

INL transfers supercomputer to Idaho schools: Students and faculty from Idaho’s three largest universities will have access to advanced modeling and simulation capabilities through the Falcon supercomputer. Idaho National Laboratory is transferring management of the computer to the University of Idaho, Boise State University and Idaho State University.

Altenhofen combines love of numbers and sports: Senior Nate Altenhofen is wrapping up degrees in statistics and recreation, sport and tourism, hoping his unique skills and training will help him land a job in professional football.

U of I sophomore Hannah Glasser placed second in the women’s dual slalom at the U.S. Collegiate Skiing and Snowboarding National Championships last month.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
April 8, 2022
Dear Vandals,

This weekend, more than 1,000 Vandal family members will join their U of I students in Moscow for Parent and Family Weekend. The schedule is jam-packed with events and activities but for U of I freshman Brielle Sorensen, it’s the simple things that make this a special weekend.

“I really just anticipate giving my mom a hug,” she said. “Those are few and far between when you’re in college, so there will be lots of mama hugs. And I love just sharing the Vandal Family with her, singing the fight song and sharing those traditions.

Brielle’s mother, Jodi Pavkov, knows those traditions well. She earned her degree in education at the U of I and now serves on the Alumni Board of Directors. The value of the Vandal experience is not lost on Pavkov, but for many families, campus visits can change perspectives and offer insights into the transformative power of higher education.

“I think it’s important for families to visit because it creates buy-in when they can come and be a part of that education for a weekend,” said Marie Duncan, who works with the Student Alumni Relations Board to organize the weekend’s events. “Over one third of our students are first-generation college students and these weekends are pivotal to exposing families to higher education. These students are advancing themselves and their families in a lot of cases.

The festivities begin tonight, highlighted by Alpha Gamma Delta’s Mr. Idaho pageant. On Saturday, events fill the day starting with Morning Mimosa Yoga. In the afternoon, Phi Delta Theta hosts the Turtle Derby, a tradition that goes back more than 40 years on the U of I campus. The Turtle Derby is a fundraiser for the Live Like Lou Foundation. The Parent and Family Weekend Dinner is Saturday evening at ICCU Arena.

In addition to the traditional events, parents and families can get a taste of U of I research and academics. The Plant and Soil Science Club is hosting two sessions of Parents and Plants – a chance for students and families to create their own potted plant basket. The Research Tours feature U of I faculty and students discussing their work with unearthed mammoth bones. There are concerts each day in the University Auditorium and tours of the U of I Arboretum and the Vandal Brand Meats facility. Check out the full lineup of activities for Parent and Family Weekend.

The Vandal family came through in a big way earlier this week, raising more than $728,000 dollars on Vandal Giving Day. That’s an 8% increase over 2021 and a new record for Vandal Giving Day.

In just 24 hours, U of I supporters made more than 1,394 gifts and raised money for scholarships, student success programs, Vandal athletics, extension programs and research initiatives. We appreciate the incredible generosity of our U of I community.

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Meyer uses data to explore criminal justice: U of I senior Grace Meyer dove into research with professor Omi Hodwitz on the demographics of individuals accused of terrorism. She plans to study criminology in graduate school after gaining invaluable hands-on experience with real data.

Zimmer to deliver Oppenheimer Symposium keynote: New York Times writer Carl Zimmer will be the keynote speaker for the Oppenheimer Ethics Symposium on Wednesday, April 13. Zimmer will present, “Writing the Pandemic: Journalism in the Age of COVID-19,” beginning at 7 p.m. in the Bruce M. Pitman Center and online.

Housing market research personal for Pagel:  When Savanna Pagel learned about a team of students and economists studying the Kootenai County housing market, she knew she had to get involved. The junior from Potlatch used data visualization to analyze questionnaire responses and help assess the scale of the housing crisis in North Idaho.

Proceeds from the Idaho Vandal License Plate program support the Vandal Pride Scholarship fund, which provides more than $50,000 each year in support for Idaho residents who attend the U of I.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
April 1, 2022
Dear Vandals,

For more than two years now, we’ve prioritized telling our Vandal story. It’s compelling, it’s exciting and it resonates with a wide audience.

From branded grain elevators to unique Instagram stories, our message is getting out. Students are discovering the value the U of I offers. Our stakeholders across the state and beyond are partnering with us on research and projects like the Seed Potato Germplasm Laboratory that opened this week. And our alumni are engaging with us and investing in their alma mater – the Brave. Bold campaign has already raised nearly $100 million to support students.

Our marketing and web teams are using data to target our audience and deliver strategic, timely information. Over the past year, our U of I home page received more than 1.3 million views, and the U of I web pages overall received more than 17.1 million views, an increase of more than 11% over the previous year.

Our web content includes calls to action for visitors. Prospective students are invited to “Explore more,” “Apply,” or “Visit.” We’ve consistently messaged about our U.S. News and World Report ranking as the No. 1 best value among public universities in the West, and students are responding. Our applications for fall 2022 are up 32% and our admissions are up 16% over the same time last year. We’re working hard to convert those admittances into enrolled students.

The U of I communications team connects our faculty with media and sends stories around the globe. Since Jan. 1, our Advertising Value Equivalency score, which measures the value of earned media, is 98.2 million – more than all other Idaho universities combined. Research led by U of I professors on the impact of COVID-19 in breast milk attracted coverage by more than 50 newspapers and television stations across the country.

Over the last two years our social media presence followed a consistent growth trajectory. Our following on Linkedin increase by more than 3,000 per year, indicating more individuals want to be associated with the Vandal Family in that space. 

Our Friday Letter is also expanding its reach. Since the start of the 2021-22 academic year, open rates on our weekly email increased from about 15% (5,639 opens) to regularly above 26.5% (12,339). We’re also regularly hearing from readers who want to support programs and engage with our university.

We appreciate the engagement and welcome your feedback. You can always email president@uidaho.edu with your ideas and input.

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Vandal Giving Day kicks off April 5: Vandals across the globe will celebrate the U of I and provide crucial support for students during this 1,889-minute online event. Opportunities to participate include signing up to be an ambassador, setting up a match or challenge gift and giving to any of dozens of student-focused funds.

Students build outdoor classroom for Moscow school: Professor Scott Lawrence and students in the Design Build Program in the College of Art and Architecture built an award-winning outdoor classroom for McDonald Elementary School in Moscow. Lawrence and two graduate students earned the Design-Build Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture for the project. 

84 Vandals will be studying abroad this summer in 11 countries across four continents. On average, about 300 U of I students study abroad each year.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
March 25, 2022
Dear Vandals,

When Vandals embark on a project, great things happen. When we pair our faculty and staff with industry leaders and our state, that progress turns into major breakthroughs.

The new Seed Potato Germplasm Laboratory showcases the impact of that collaboration. The facility on the west side of campus officially opens next week and it will be a game changer for Idaho’s most famous crop, increasing production and food safety.

The new laboratory became a reality thanks to investment from the Idaho Potato Commission, Northwest Farm Credit Services, private donors and the state of Idaho. The partnerships are key in supporting the industry that produces 13 billion pounds of Idaho potatoes each year.

The Seed Potato Germplasm Laboratory maintains the startup material used to produce about 90% of the potatoes grown in Idaho and about 60% of the potatoes grown in the US. 

As potato demand continues to increase worldwide, the new lab will support the production growth needed to meet it. The Seed Potato Germplasm Program also acts as a repository for about 300 different potato varieties, conducts virus clean up services and supports the development of new potato varieties.

“This new facility is a transformational improvement for the program,” said Michael P. Parrella, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “The new larger location provides enhanced measures for biosafety and enough room to triple the current annual production of 250,000 certified disease-free plantlets to meet a growing demand from the seed potato industry.”

Students will also gain valuable hands-on experience at the Seed Potato Germplasm Laboratory. Program Director Jenny Durin employs up to 12 students each year, though staffing ebbs and flows based on production needs.

Make plans to join me at the Seed Potato Germplasm Laboratory grand opening at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 29.

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Research points Flynn toward community health: Morgan Flynn conducted research with Professor Chantel Vella as a U of I undergraduate, exploring the link between screen time and pre-diabetes indicators. The experience inspired Flynn to attend graduate school at the University of British Columbia, where she is focusing on fitness community health.

CDC praises UI Extension team's work: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases recognized UI Extension’s efforts in COVID-19 vaccine education. The UI Extension EXCITE team provided vaccine education at seven clinics across the state.

'The Magic Flute' debuts April 1 on U of I campus: The U of I Lionel Hampton School of Music will present “The Magic Flute” April 1 and 3 at the Administration Building Auditorium. The production features 33 students, one faculty member, several community volunteers, the University Orchestra and two theatre students who worked on costumes and set design.

The U of I launched a fleet of 15 food delivery robots this week. Vandals on the Moscow campus can order from several Idaho Eats locations through the Starship Food Delivery app and have food delivered within minutes.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
March 18, 2022
Dear Vandals,

I’m consistently impressed by our University of Idaho students’ care for one another. Their generosity and willingness to step up and serve others is what makes our Vandal Family special.

The Vandal Food Pantry is the latest example of our community working together and giving back to those in need. The pantry now has a physical presence in Shoup Hall, allowing volunteers to provide a higher level of service and resources to students and employees facing food insecurity.

“We wanted to create a consistent presence and an enjoyable space for everyone,” said Meggie Cafferty, who worked with students to transform an ad hoc food distribution system into something more. “We want it to have more of a grocery store feel and make it so that anyone in our U of I community can come in and feel comfortable, no questions asked.”

The Department of Student Involvement in the Division of Student Affairs has worked toward relieving food insecurity on campus and in the wider community in different ways over the past decade. Their campus cabinet system and regular drive-through events have been well received and may continue, but a brick-and-mortar location was always the goal.

The project is donor-funded. Fraternities and sororities, ROTC groups, ASUI staff, student staff from the Office of Multicultural Affairs and others donated time and resources to help make the pantry a reality. “We’ve had great collaboration across campus,” said Cafferty, assistant director of fraternity and sorority life and community engagement.

A roster of volunteers is ready to serve at the new pantry. They also hope to offer vouchers for the dining halls and add refrigerators to store fresher, healthier food.

“Through the Vandal Food Pantry, we will be able to help students focus on what they need to be doing – studying – and not have to worry about where their next meal may be coming from,” said Blaine Eckles, vice provost for student affairs and dean of students. “I’m proud of the efforts that went into the creation of the food pantry. This is just another example of what it means to be a member of the Vandal Family.”

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Students bond, explore through Vandal Ventures: The University of Idaho’s outdoor orientation program is providing students with a memorable experience as they join the Vandal family. Vandal Ventures takes students on rafting or backpacking trips, helping them learn new skills and develop friendships while exploring the beauty of Idaho’s wilderness.

Two yeas of COVID: ‘Huge burden’ of thousands of deaths, ‘ongoing’ public health fight: COVID-19 has had a transformative effect on Idaho. U of I experts explain the pandemic’s toll on public health in the state by examining the statistics in an array of different areas, from death rates to vaccination attitudes.

Philip Stevens, director of American Indian Studies at the U of I, received the 2022 Bobby Wright Award for Early Career Contributions to Research in Indigenous Education from the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas.

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

Organizations across the country value the perspective that graduates from arts and social sciences bring to their work.

After his freshman year at the University of Idaho, Brice Sloan took his chainsaw and a tent and embarked on his first business venture. He and his brothers cleaned up logging sites, eventually earning enough money to upgrade from a tent to a used trailer – the first home of his company that now has offices across the West Coast and in Puerto Rico.

“We were doing the work no one else wanted to do, but it helped pay for my sophomore year in school,” Sloan recalled. “Those were pretty humble beginnings.”

While earning his history degree in three years at the U of I, Sloan studied abroad in Budapest, Hungary. That experience helped him gain confidence in unfamiliar cultures and assisted him immensely in his future work with Sloan Security Group, Inc. (SSG), which works with governments and companies around the globe.

Since those primitive early days, the company slowly evolved. They began installing roadside fencing and eventually found a niche in perimeter security. SSG has become one of the top physical security companies in the world. They’ve installed security systems in many different countries and landed contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense, Uber and Google, among many others. Sloan serves as CEO, leaning on his education and diverse background to lead the company forward.

“History, in effect, is a study in leadership,” Sloan said. “That really became my passion – understanding leadership, how it happens and how we can grow, develop and continuously improve. Our goal as a company is to rise to challenges and overcome those challenges.”

As Sloan can attest, graduates in the humanities develop analytical skills that lead to careers in a wide variety of industries. A 2018 study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences showed that more than 95% of those with terminal bachelor’s degrees in the humanities were employed.

Named the 2021 Engineering News-Record Specialty Contractor of the Year in the Mountain States region, the Boise-based company has won numerous awards for its innovation and workplace culture. Sloan now serves on the U of I’s College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences Advisory Council. The group helps promote the college, offers advice on programming, and provides resources and support. It’s been a fulfilling partnership for Sloan, whose company is filled with Vandals. His brothers and business partners Collin and Greg, along with CFO Hank Vincent, are all U of I grads. The SSG management team contributes to scholarships and funds for students in need.

“The challenges the U of I is facing are amazing and I’m really impressed by the progress they’re making,” Sloan said. “I want to help the next group of students and entrepreneurs because a lot of people have helped me along the way.”

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Freshman jumps into soil research: Andrew Byrd, a U of I freshman from Illinois is working with professor Rob Keefe to compare soil compaction from rubber tires versus compaction from articulated tracks. The research could help improve the sustainability of logging operations.

North Idaho students explore STEM careers: The Women in Science and Engineering event welcomed 150 students from 10 North Idaho high schools last week. The high school sophomores were mentored by U of I students and staff as they participated in competition, activities and experiments throughout the day.

Young students showcase creations at Invent Idaho: Students from around the state displayed their inventions, competed for scholarships and aimed for a spot at the National Invention Convention at the Invent Idaho state finals last week. Nineteen of the young inventors qualified for the national event later this spring.

Idaho Central Credit Union Arena received the 2021-2022 Canadian Wood Council Award for Commercial Building and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative - Sponsorship Award by Wood Design & Building magazine.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
March 4, 2022
Dear Vandals,

There’s little doubt Vandals James and Louise McClure (1950) would beam with pride at the work of the University of Idaho center bearing their names.

Throughout his many years in the U.S. Congress, representing Idaho in both the House of Representatives and Senate, James McClure was a champion for evidence-based policy making. His wife Louise also was a public servant who promoted public engagement and stressed the importance of sound research when it came to policy decisions.

The U of I’s McClure Center for Public Policy Research serves the state with nonpartisan information and resources that are essential for decision making at multiple levels. Agencies, elected officials, businesses, non-profit organizations and Idahoans rely on their research.

The center’s latest major work is the Idaho Climate-Economy Impacts Assessment. The assessment synthesizes the latest science specific to Idaho and presents challenges and opportunities to multiple sectors of the economy.

“Businesses in Idaho recognized there was not a lot of Idaho-specific information available on the economic impacts of the changing climate,” said McClure Center Director Katherine Himes. “The assessment is the result of two-plus years of work. Research experts from the U of I and other Idaho universities and a 40-member advisory board were essential. The assessment is made in Idaho, for Idaho.” 

Along with nonpartisan research, the McClure Center, located across from the Idaho State Capitol, works closely with U of I students. They gain valuable experience connecting their academic training in political science, journalism, history, law, engineering and other fields with public policy. Since 2015, 73 students have participated in a variety of programs at the center. 

The McClure Center also holds events throughout the year. The Denton Darrington Lecture, a partnership with the U of I College of Law, Idaho Supreme Court and Idaho State Bar and Law Foundation, is slated for this spring in Boise and Moscow. The center hopes to resume the Policy Pub series soon. 

The model of sharing knowledge and engaging Idahoans across the state reflects the U of I’s land-grant mission and embodies the McClure’s noble legacy.

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Students, faculty gain access to INL supercomputer: U of I students and faculty will gain valuable experience and research capabilities through access to the Falcon supercomputer at Idaho National Laboratories. An agreement signed by the U of I, Boise State University and Idaho State University with Battelle Energy Alliance provides full access to the supercomputer through the Idaho Regional Optical Network.

Waitley celebrated by Idaho ag community: The Idaho agriculture community celebrated Rick Waitley’s honorary doctorate from the University of Idaho at an event this week in Boise. Waitley serves as the president of Association Management Group, and was recognized for more than 50 years of excellent service to the state and its agriculture industry.

Tojo collaborates with Moscow high school: U of I faculty member Azusa Tojo is volunteering her time with students at Paradise Creek Regional High School, teaching about the culture, language and culinary arts in Japan. The students are learning basic language skills and Tojo incorporates cultural aspects and customs into each lesson.

Vandal athlete Grady Leonard broke the Big Sky Indoor Championship record with a weight throw of 69 feet, 4 ¼ inches. Leonard will compete at the NCAA Championships on March 11 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
Feb. 25, 2022
Dear Vandals,

Our Spring edition of Here We Have Idaho magazine showcases the vibrant student experience at the University of Idaho. And our Brave.Bold. campaign is making this life-changing experience accessible to more and more hard-working Idaho students. 

From agriculture to education, our students learn by doing. They engage with our communities while gaining knowledge and skills that prepare them for rewarding careers.

Avelardo Vargas helped his father with chores on a small dairy farm when he was young and always knew he wanted to work in the dairy industry. At the U of I, he’s well on his way to a successful career thanks to lots of hard work, persistence and support. Avelardo earned a scholarship from Chobani that he said was life-changing for him and his family. He's now positioned to return to a rewarding and successful career in the dairy industry.

Recent graduate Emma Arman took a unique route to her degree and it has led her to a fulfilling career in environmental science. She took advantage of Idaho’s Fast Forward program, earning dual credit while in high school and entering the U of I as a junior academically. Emma got involved on campus and in the community, gained hands-on experience and found a gratifying career path.

Wyryor Noil faced many potential roadblocks throughout his college career. He persevered and became the first in his family to graduate from college. In addition to playing defensive back for the Vandal football team, Wyryor completed student teaching at Lena Whitmore Elementary and Moscow High School and aspires to be an athletic director. Now enrolled in grad school at the U of I, he is well on his way.

These are just a few of the inspiring stories featured in our latest magazine. The Brave. Bold. campaign has already raised more than $90 million toward scholarships, enabling students like Avelardo, Emma and Wyryor to write their own stories at the U of I.

Look for your copy of Here We Have Idaho in your mailbox soon, or check it out online.

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival continues through Saturday
The 55th annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival is taking place this weekend on the U of I campus, concluding with Saturday evening's featured concert. The headline concerts will be held at the Bruce M. Pitman Center, and begin at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $20 to $45 and can be purchased through the U of I events page.

INBRE alumni pursue diverse careers
The IdeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) prepares students for a wide variety of careers. Jenny Durin discovered a passion for science through INBRE and she’s now director of the Seed Potato Germplasm Program at the U of I, while fellow INBRE alum Steve Van Horn now works in quality assurance for a pharmaceutical company.

Renovation of Parma Center gets go-ahead
The Idaho State Board of Education approved the U of I’s request to begin the construction phase on renovation of the Parma Research and Extension Center. The $9 million project includes updates to laboratories, student housing and new greenhouses.

After reopening on Feb. 11, the U of I Chik-fil-A served up 2,457 meals in its first five days of business. The most popular item on the menu is the Large Waffle Potato Fries.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
Feb. 18, 2022
Dear Vandals,

We’re proud to call the University of Idaho home of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. For 55 years, the festival has drawn students, musicians and fans from all over the world to Moscow for education and a celebration of jazz.

It may seem an unlikely pairing – a land-grant university in North Idaho and a musical genre that originated in African American communities of Louisiana – but it’s proven to be an enriching event for the region.

“It’s incredibly unique, and it’s changed our landscape for music education in the northwest,” said Josh Skinner, Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival manager. “The longevity of the festival in itself is huge, but it’s also one of the largest educational jazz festivals in the country.”

This year’s festival is hybrid with both virtual and in-person elements. Student performances were recorded and submitted in advance. Adjudication, workshops and concerts are in person and available online to student participants unable to make it to Moscow. Skinner said he still expects more than 3,000 visitors in Moscow throughout the three-day event.

The jazz festival is a valuable attraction for students and faculty, as professor Kate Skinner can attest. A 2020 study showed that at least 25 students were recruited to the U of I each year because of the festival, not only to the Lionel Hampton School of Music, but to programs across the university.

The 2021 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival saw engagement nationally and internationally in the virtual format, reconnecting former participants, alumni and jazz enthusiasts. Josh Skinner and his colleagues are using this momentum to innovate the festival experience for participants this year, featuring a highly anticipated lineup:

  • 7 p.m. Thursday, February 24
    • U of I Jazz Ensemble, featuring Jay Thomas
    • GRAMMY Museum Affiliate Collective
    • World Music Artists: Jay Gandhi and Yacouba Sissoko
  • 7 p.m. Friday, February, 25
    • U of I Jazz Choir I
    • GRAMMY Museum Affiliate Collective
    • Dee Dee Bridgewater
  • 7 p.m. Saturday, February, 26
    • Lionel Hampton Big Band, featuring Joseph Doubleday
    • GRAMMY Museum Affiliate Collective
    • Chris Potter Trio

If you’ve never attended, come see why the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival is renowned worldwide. If you’re already a fan, I’ll see you next week. Tickets are still available for Thursday, Friday and Saturday concerts, which will be held at the Bruce M. Pitman Center.

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Pitkin Nursery seeds a growing industry: The Pitkin Nursery has a rich history and a bright future. The U of I facility has helped launch hundreds of nursery careers, and it’s increasing its production of seedlings to meet the growing need for forest restoration.

U of I Black History Exhibit holds grand opening: The Black History Research Lab and the University of Idaho Library officially unveiled the first in a series of collaborative exhibits on Tuesday. The student-led exhibit celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Black Student Union and Cultural Center at the U of I. The exhibit will be ongoing in the library and includes a corresponding online exhibit.

UI Extension educator launches artisan grains podcast: Colette DePhelps, UI Extension Educator in Moscow, launched the Inland Northwest Artisan Grains podcast to highlight the value of locally grown products. She and co-host Ali Schultheis explore each link of the artisan grain supply chain and the show has drawn interest from farmers, seed growers and consumers.

Eva Top was recently elected as a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is a professor emerita in the Department of Biological Sciences. 

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

We treasure the University of Idaho’s location here on the Palouse. Our students have access to great outdoor opportunities within a short drive, and a vibrant, welcoming community in Moscow. We also know getting to and from the Palouse can be challenging.

We’ve made investments in our transportation infrastructure in recent years and they’re paying off nicely. Alaska Airlines revived its direct flights to and from Boise in August of 2021, with the backing of the University of Idaho and WSU. We jointly guaranteed the airline would make a 10% margin on the flight. The U of I and WSU will provide a subsidy up to $500,000 per year over the next three years if needed. Even if the full subsidy is paid, the U of I will only need approximately 40 new students from our largest recruiting market to break-even on its commitment to the agreement.

Our enrollment is highly correlated with the direct flight to Boise. We began seeing enrollment declines of about 200 students per year when we lost both Moscow and Lewiston flights to Boise. The return of the Boise-Moscow flights coincided with a 16% jump in freshman enrollment last fall, which we don’t believe is a coincidence. Our students and prospective students, employees and community members are also saving time and money thanks to this investment.

Recently we pledged $400,000 to the airport’s new $43 million terminal, which will enable greater flight capacity and open our university to new markets across the west. The new terminal is expected to be completed in 2023. We need approximately 12 new students over the three annual payments to break even on this investment. One new route will likely generate those students.

Access to our institution is central to our land-grant mission and we believe investment in our airport and related routes will generate a strong financial return. Increasing that access and making wise investments in our future is a win for the U of I, our community and our state.

In other news, I’m pleased to report that Amy Lientz has been appointed assistant vice president for alumni relations at the U of I. Amy earned her master’s degree at the U of I in 1995 and has been a leader in the energy sector for more than 30 years, most recently at Idaho National Laboratory.

She will lead the Office of Alumni Relations and administer the U of I Alumni Association, which includes more than 111,000 members across the globe. Amy will succeed Kathy Barnard, who served our institution with distinction and decided to retire at the end of 2021. We’re excited to have Amy officially join us April 11.

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Micron offers $1 million in engineering grants: In an effort to attract more students to engineering careers, Micron Technology and the Micron Foundation are adding more than $1 million in grants to the colleges of engineering at the U of I and Boise State University. The grants support targeted programs that expand access, diversify enrollment and prepare students for engineering careers.

UI on the cutting edge of evolving meat industry: Students and faculty focusing on meat sciences at the U of I will soon have a new $8 million facility that will help the region and the country develop competition in the industry and promote sustainable local agriculture. Students in the program run all aspects of a USDA-inspected meat processing facility and then sell the products locally.

McCluskey family donates $1 million to UI’s indoor track: Matt and Jill McCluskey donated $1 million to the U of I to resurface the indoor track at the ASUI Kibbie Activity Center. The track will be named for Lauren McCluskey, who was killed in 2018 while she was a student-athlete at the University of Utah. McCluskey grew up in Pullman and spent many hours training at the Kibbie Dome throughout high school and college.

Former U of I decathlete Andrew Blaser is representing the U.S. at the Winter Olympics, competing in the skeleton. Blaser began competition Thursday in Beijing and was 21st overall after two rounds.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
Feb. 4, 2022
Dear Vandals,

We often discuss how U of I offers transformative experiences for students. Kaitlyn Harvey recently took that to new heights.

In December, Kaitlyn and a team of Vandal engineering students flew across the country to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They spent a hectic four days making final preparations for their antibacterial polymer experiment to launch to the International Space Station. After overcoming some logistical challenges in the days leading up to the launch – a shipping snafu delayed the arrival of their experiment in Florida – the students were finally able to take a deep breath on Sunday after delivering their experiment to be placed on the rocket.

“The first moment of relief was when we handed over the experiment. One of my teammates and I just started crying,” said Kaitlyn, who will graduate in May with a degree in biological engineering. “And then seeing the rocket up in the sky was just overwhelming, exciting and relieving. It was one of those unforgettable experiences.

The U of I team was one of five selected for NASA’s Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science competition. The majority of her colleagues on the team are now in grad school or embarking on their careers. Kaitlyn and sophomore chemical engineering student Ashley Keeley are continuing work on the project with faculty mentor Matthew Bernards, using a microscope to analyze how their polymers held up over 30 days in the Space Station compared to the control samples on Earth.

Working with NASA was a dream when Kaitlyn started at U of I, but that became a very realistic career path after her time in Florida.

“This experience definitely flipped my mindset,” she said. “I’d like to be involved in experiments in space – aerospace is definitely the way I want to go now. We had two NASA mentors while we were there, and they talked with us about what it’s like to work at NASA and how to explore those opportunities. That was really beneficial.”

In addition to her contacts at NASA, Kaitlyn has talked with Jacobs Engineering Group, a firm that works with NASA on major projects, about potential employment. Her teammate Ashley is considering an internship at NASA this summer.

“As our interim dean (John Crepeau) likes to say, U of I is small enough to care, but big enough to matter,” Kaitlyn said. “That was really showcased in this experience.”

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Nguy pays it forward through Davis Investment Group: U of I student Simon Nguy has helped the Davis Investment Group program generate more than $300,000 in student scholarships. The program allows students to manage long-term investments and teaches valuable financial lessons in live markets.

Green offers rebuke of legislator’s accusations: U of I president Scott Green referred to an investigative report during a meeting with the Idaho legislature’s Joint Finance Appropriations Committee that concluded there is no evidence of indoctrination at the university. The president responded to a legislator’s question about social justice programming at U of I.

Woodward finds his unlikely calling in philosophy: An introductory philosophy course piqued Trevor Woodward’s interest in the topic as a freshman. Three years later, he is one of just 20 undergraduates worldwide invited to the prestigious Colorado Summer Seminar in Philosophy.

Plans are in place for the Agri Beef Meat Science and Innovation Center Honoring Ron Richard, which will house Vandal Brand Meats, larger classrooms and upgraded facilities for research and teaching.

Letter from the President
Office of the President | president@uidaho.edu
Jan. 28, 2022
Dear Vandals,

This morning I am speaking with the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee at the Idaho State Capitol. It’s an important venue to share with our legislators both our accomplishments and our challenges as they make important recommendations regarding our budget. The meeting will be livestreamed beginning at 8 a.m. Mountain time.

In the meantime, I want to tell you about a fun project that is bringing Vandals together.

At this year’s Homecoming Parade, I ran into Ben Hunter, dean of University of Idaho Libraries and pipe major of Border Highlanders, our local pipes and drums group. He and his group were dressed in traditional Scottish Highland kilts and I asked why we did not have our own Vandal Tartan. He said it was about money, and I said it is about time we solved that problem.

We need Vandals everywhere to help us make a decision that will have ramifications for Vandal fashion for years to come. We’re calling on our stakeholders across the country and around the world to make their voices known on the Vandal Tartan.

We’re in the final days of deciding on the official design for our tartan, which will be logged with the Scottish Tartan Register and adorn Vandal apparel going forward. The tartan is a traditional Scottish weaving pattern that is used to identify families and other organizations. It dates back thousands of years, and in the 1800s, Scottish clans began to identify themselves by using the distinctive patterns.

Vandal fans can vote on their favorite tartan online through Monday, Jan. 31.

Today there are more than 7,000 tartan designs – don’t call them plaid. We’re selecting from three silver, white, black and gold patterns that are designed to capture Idaho’s brave and bold spirit. Other institutions have selected tartan designs on their own, but we want to hear from our U of I faithful. Which design should represent our clan?

Thousands of Vandals have already voted. Make sure to cast your ballot by Monday, Jan. 31. We’ll unveil the official Vandal Tartan later this spring and by next fall we’ll have a new way to identify the Vandal clan.

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

VANDALS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Optum Idaho donates $200,000 to U of I's Project ECHO: Optum Idaho pledged $200,000 to U of I's Project Echo to help improve access to mental health providers throughout the state. The donation will support ECHO’s ongoing efforts to provide accessible resources and training for health care professionals in rural communities.

IGS survey could lead to boom in cobalt mining: The Idaho Geological Survey (IGS) is providing valuable information for government and industry that could help fuel clean energy for many years to come. Claudio Berti, director of IGS, said Idaho contains one of the largest deposits of cobalt in North America, and it is not being mined. The full survey from IGS will be released later this year.

U of I researchers study climate change’s impact on migration: Ryan Long, associate professor of wildlife sciences at U of I, led an interdisciplinary study detailing the hazards of undocumented migration over the Mexico-U.S. border, which are increasing due to climate change. Graduate student Reena Walker was a co-lead author on the research, which was published in Science in December.