University of Idaho - I Banner
A student works at a computer

VandalStar

U of I's web-based retention and advising tool provides an efficient way to guide and support students on their road to graduation. Login to VandalStar.

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
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.

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.