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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.

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Letter from the President
Nov. 30, 2018
Dear Friends,
We’re fast approaching the end of an exciting fall semester at the University of Idaho. Our mission has always meant success in the classroom; in research, scholarship and creative work; and in connections with our communities. While I can’t give every example of Vandal excellence without turning this letter into a book, I want to highlight some representative examples of the good things happening here in Vandal country.
 
Our students continue to shine, making the most of a high quality academic experience. Last month a team of U of I undergraduates won the 2018 Montana Mathematical Modeling Challenge at Carroll College, in Helena. Our Honors Program students have continued to excel. Vandals are forging exciting futures in everything from commodities brokerage to architecture. They’re embarking on meaningful work opportunities, such as with our Fenway Group information technology partnership on campus; taking charge and designing their own spaces, as with the remodel of the Albertson Building’s basement; and participating in groundbreaking research, such as analyzing artifacts during archaeological research alongside faculty mentors.
 
The university’s exemplary research enterprise continues to produce impact for Idaho and the world. A University of Idaho team led by environmental chemist Greg Moller, soil scientist Dan Strawn and mechanical engineer Martin Baker became one of four finalists for the $10 million George Barley Water Prize for producing clean water by removing phosphorus. U of I researchers also contribute to the advancement of clean energy, recently earning $2.6 million from the U.S. Department of Energy's Nuclear Energy University Program to develop nuclear energy innovations for changing energy needs across the globe. U of I astrophysicist Jason Barnes was part of a team whose published research based on data from the international spacecraft Cassini revealed giant dust storms on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.
 
We’re also focused on connecting with communities. U of I is a statewide institution – Idaho is our campus, I often say. This fall we added a behavioral health track to the promising Project ECHO program, a service delivered by our Idaho WWAMI Medical Education Program. That addition complements an addiction and abuse program that focuses especially on the opioid epidemic. We’re proud of how this initiative can help build capacity for tackling healthcare challenges by bringing expertise into the hands of people in the community who need it.
 
This fall represented a change for our Vandal Football program in our return to the Big Sky Conference. It didn’t always show up in the win-loss tally, but our Vandals competed hard in some well-attended games that generated excitement for our fans and for our rivals in the region. This move back to the Big Sky had no shortage of controversy and polarized our fan base. I certainly get that. But in retrospect, I’m confident that we made the right decision, and that our student-athletes are in a position to succeed on the field in the future and represent our university with the pride and passion we all expect from our Vandals. I also want to congratulate our Vandal Volleyball team for reaching the conference tournament finals — a strong season in which the team displayed a lot of heart and character.
 
Our alumni and friends mean so much to the success we enjoy across our mission. Thank you for contributing to an outstanding semester at this great institution. We’ll continue to build on the positive results that we’re seeing for students, for our state and for our world.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Honoring Clem Parberry with Scholarship Support

Lawrence ’61 and Anne Parberry continue growing the Clem Parberry Memorial P.E. Scholarship Fund. Originally established in 1979 by Viola Parberry, Clem’s wife, this scholarship provides important financial support to undergraduate students studying physical education at the University of Idaho. Clem earned his Master of Education from U of I in 1957 after joining the university in 1953 as the head coach for baseball, freshman football and freshman basketball. In 1975, Parberry retired as chair of the Men’s Physical Education Department. His legacy of positively affecting the U of I experience continues in the opportunities created by this scholarship. The College of Education, Health and Human Sciences is grateful to Larry and Anne Parberry for continuing to make a difference for students with their most recent and generous IRA Charitable Rollover gift. For more information on supporting student success in the college, contact Stacy Rauch at 208-885-7053 or srauch@uidaho.edu. For information on the IRA Charitable Rollover benefit, contact Sharon Morgan at 866-671-7041 or giftplanning@uidaho.edu.   

11th Tribe Signs on to U of I Native American Collaboration Agreement

The University of Idaho has signed an agreement with an 11th Native American tribe to collaborate on improved educational opportunities for Native American students. U of I and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon signed the agreement this month to establish formal collaborations to advise the university and President Chuck Staben on educational and service issues aimed at bolstering university-tribal relations. “This latest agreement will build upon U of I’s strong relationship with the region’s tribal nations and will help promote collaborations among Native students, tribes and the university,” said Yolanda Bisbee, U of I’s chief diversity officer and executive director of tribal relations. “We look forward to working with the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation to further promote these efforts.” Under the long-standing agreement, U of I recognizes the sovereign status of Northwest tribes and provides in-state tuition to tribal members in tribes that have signed the agreement.

Short and Sweet Talks Highlight Global Reach

The Office of Research and Economic Development’s next round of the popular Short and Sweet Talks event will take place 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, in the IRIC Atrium, with cushioned overflow seating in the IRIC Step Auditorium, Moscow. The theme for this semester's SAS engagement is global reach, highlighting the diversity of research, creative and scholarly activity that has propelled the University of Idaho onto the world stage. Nine speakers will present on a variety of internationally focused research projects. Each talk will include 20 easy-to-understand slides timed to 20 seconds each, resulting in an informative, accessible presentation in less than seven minutes per talk. For those unable to attend live, the SAS Talks will also be webcast via UI Live.

Forest Fire Smoke Focus of U of I Study

Forest fire smoke contains living microbes, and the types of microbes living in smoke differ from the types in nearby non-smoky air, according to a team of scientists led by University of Idaho Associate Professor Leda Kobziar. “Fires have probably been moving microbes around for millions of years, but we’ve never quantified it,” Kobziar said. “Our study indicates that fire may play a significant role in the distribution of microbial life on earth. Fire could be influencing biodiversity in ways we’ve never considered.” Kobziar and her team published their findings in the journal Ecosphere. Airborne microbes can benefit or harm human and plant health and can influence ecosystem processes where they land. Researchers have previously found that large wind events like wind storms and dust storms can transport living microbes but didn’t know whether they moved with forest fire smoke the same way. The team included U of I College of Natural Resources undergraduate Shelby Green and former U of I postdoctoral fellow Melissa Pingree, as well as colleagues at the U.S. Forest Service and the University of Florida.

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Letter from the President
Nov. 16, 2018
Dear Friends,
The University of Idaho remains focused this semester on our land-grant mission: outstanding educational opportunities, innovative research and discovery that impacts Idaho, as well as community connections that improve quality of life. I’m proud of the success we continue to have in delivering on our commitment. I'm the president – I would be proud, wouldn't I? But you don't have to take it from me.
 
The federal government’s recently updated College Scorecard offers an objective look at important considerations such as affordability, academic quality and career outcomes. U of I is a leader in key metrics: average annual cost, graduation rates and salary after attending. Gone are the Scorecard’s national average indicators, unfortunately. But use the search function to review colleges by location, by type, or by factors like size, degrees offered and more. See for yourself: U of I stands out.
 
Now more than ever, career success matters to students and to families. PayScale’s 2018-19 College Salary Report highlights how Vandal alumni forge solid financial futures. U of I graduates earned higher mid-career salaries – an average of $95,200 – than graduates of any other Idaho institution, and U of I ranked among the top 400 schools nationwide in graduate earnings. And we know from our own surveys that 90 percent of U of I graduates have a job or plans for continued study at graduation. If you want a rewarding education that helps you grow as a person on your way to a good job, U of I is the place to be.
 
A high-quality academic experience – hands-on learning, mentorship from faculty who are leaders in their fields, internships and work opportunities – facilitates that post-graduation success. This fall the Princeton Review lauded our student-centered approach when they listed U of I as one of its “Best 384 Colleges” for 2019, saying U of I “is truly a school that invests in its students. Despite its large size, the university manages to create a ‘personalized learning experience’ for all undergrads.” The organization also cited U of I’s “networking opportunities” for undergraduates and noted “the faculty here really cares about the students and genuinely wants to see them succeed.” We’re proud to be recognized with a perennial spot on the Princeton Review’s list.
 
U of I offers a unique residential learning environment. In August, Moscow was ranked No. 17 among the “50 Safest College Towns in America” by SafeWise, an independent review site focused on safety and security. Nothing is more important to me, our faculty, or our partners in the city than maintaining a safe and welcoming home. Our campus community delivers that. This is a fascinating, beautiful corner of the world. In fact, when the Wall Street Journal recently named the Palouse the “Tuscany of America,” Moscow was singled out for its vibrant downtown and its connection to the university. (Livability also considered some of those factors when it named Moscow No. 1 among the “10 Best Places to Raise a Family.”) Whether you’re here to learn or live or both, this is a great place to be.
 
I hope Vandals near and far will share these indicators about U of I excellence. They affirm our confidence about the work we do as a great public research university. And they set the tone for how we’ll approach the work ahead – brave and bold.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Supporting the Magic of Student Media

Kathy Barnard and Tom LaPointe met as University of Idaho students in 1977: Kathy worked at The Argonaut, and Tom worked at KUOI, the U of I radio station. One day, Tom hand-delivered KUOI’s latest advertisement for publication. Four years later, they were married; they’ve been together ever since. Choosing to support the place where it all began, they’ve successfully raised $7,500 to replace the KUOI master control board. “In addition to the technical skills you need to put together a show or put out paper,” Barnard said, “there are the soft skills you learn like managing a team, motivating employees and handling a budget – those skills are really important.”  LaPointe agreed, adding, “Without KUOI-FM, I would not be the person I am today.” KUOI’s project is one of many successful fundraising efforts through U&I Give crowdfunding, a grassroots effort to help with specific project needs. Other live Vandal campaigns happening now include: Humanitarian Engineering Corps, Naval Officer Education Program, Cyber Defense Club and 4-H. Visit U&I Give to learn more.

MOSS Program Wins National Award

The University of Idaho’s McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS) won a University Economic Development Association (UEDA) Award of Excellence Oct. 22 for innovative educational programs that sustain regional economic development. The award was presented at the 2018 UEDA Annual Summit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. U of I was one of five finalists in the award’s “Talent + Place” category, which was developed to recognize university programs that connect their institutional talent in ways that enrich our communities and help create talent for the future. MOSS, operated through U of I’s College of Natural Resources, brings place-based outdoor learning to more than 2,100 K-12 students and educators across Idaho annually. Since 2001, the first-of-its-kind initiative has delivered immersive science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programming in the Idaho outdoors. It has been successful in building scientific literacy and positive attitudes toward science in Idaho. These efforts have helped Idaho build a STEM-focused population for the benefit of local communities.

Researchers Publish Nature Comment on Coexisting with Fire

College of Natural Resources' Alistair Smith and Crystal Kolden with colleague David Bowman from the University of Tasmania outline new strategies to live with fire in a recent comment published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. The researchers argue that to co-exist sustainably with fire, human communities need to take the lead from nature and adapt to the fire regimes they reside in. They propose finding solutions through biomimicry – imitating the ways flora, fauna and many indigenous cultures have used to live with fire. Examples include developing building materials that exude fire-retardant chemicals when heated and moving critical resources underground like the fictional subterranean "hobbit holes" of Lord of the Rings.

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Letter from the President
Nov. 9, 2018
Dear Friends,
This Sunday marks Veterans Day. The University of Idaho’s embrace of military service, and our historical and ongoing service to military personnel, affords the day some special resonance. We honor U of I community members who have made sacrifices for our country. We focus on supporting veterans and their families through unique programs and resources such as Operation Education. We welcome newly commissioned officers to the ranks of the service at every commencement as they matriculate through our Army, Navy and Air Force ROTC programs.
 
That’s an enduring tradition of access, support and respect that we’re proud to build on this fall with a new deferred admissions policy – referred to at U of I as a “durable admissions” policy – that allows admitted students to postpone attendance at U of I for up to four years after admission. As U of I focuses on bringing more people into the college experience, we understand our obligation to students inclined to pursue military service directly after high school.
 
Why does durable admissions matter? For would-be students who have spent four years serving our country, they won’t have to wade back through the admissions process – the transcripts, the test scores, the data entry. Here’s how I explain it to students. First, importantly, it applies to all students – military service members, those going on missions, students taking some time in the workforce. But consider it first from the point of view of someone enlisting in the military. We offered you admissions initially because you were qualified, and we wanted you to be here. You made the choice to serve our country – that’s an outstanding decision.
 
Undoubtedly during enlisted service, you’ve only grown as a leader, as a thinker, as a human being. Why would you be any less qualified after four years? When you’re ready, and when you’ve completed the service you feel compelled to offer and for which we’re grateful, we will honor the promise we made. We’ll hold the door open for a smooth re-entry to higher education.
 
The United States, but particularly Idaho, has a large number of students who participate in a life experience after high school, and who could benefit from knowing that they are welcome in higher education when they choose to return. A religious mission offers another example – many belonging to the LDS Church in Idaho, especially members age 18-20, complete a religious mission. Spread out across the world, many missionaries have limited contact home. The logistics of reapplying to the university for their return could be daunting, so we make the same offer to missionary students as we do to service members: You were qualified once, your ensuing life experience only makes you more qualified, so you’re in.
 
The University of Idaho strives to be a diverse, inclusive living and learning environment. This durable admissions policy reflects and strengthens that commitment. We’re proud to serve those who serve their nation, their faith, their communities and their families.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

The Wright Stuff: Endowed Scholarship Support

Virginia ’67 ’69 and Kenneth Wright ’72 have made a $50,000 bequest commitment to fund two scholarship endowments – one for students in education and one for students in STEM disciplines. Both scholarships will offer preference to students transferring to the university from North Idaho College. Virginia earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education and is a retired teacher. Ken earned a Ph.D. in chemistry and is a retired faculty member at NIC. The Wrights believe strongly in the importance of post-secondary education, especially for students considering education or STEM-related fields. "We both feel we were fortunate to have received a quality preparation for our respective careers,” Kenneth said. “We would like to give back to encourage a younger generation attending our favorite alma mater, the University of Idaho," Virginia said. For more information about giving to the university, please contact Stacy Rauch in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences at 208-885-7053 or srauch@uidaho.edu; or Eric Bennett in the College of Science at 208-885-9106 or ebennett@uidaho.edu.

U of I Researchers Examine Milk Production Disease

U of I nutritionist Michelle “Shelley” McGuire and lactation physiologist and dairy researcher Mark McGuire will co-lead a $2.4 million project funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to explore the cause of mastitis in women and cows. Mastitis, an inflammation of the mammary gland, is a major human and animal disease problem that causes discomfort for breastfeeding mothers and damages dairy industry productivity. The bacterial-related disease frustrates mothers who want to provide the best nutrition for their babies and causes millions in annual financial losses for dairies. The new study will look more closely at those bacterial communities in milk from healthy and unhealthy women and cows. Shelley McGuire is the newly hired director and professor in U of I’s Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences. Mark McGuire is a professor in the Department of Animal and Veterinary Science and director of the Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station. The McGuires are married and have collaborated on similar projects for over two decades.

Communication Degree Returns to the University of Idaho in Fall ‘19

The University of Idaho’s College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences aims to meet a growing demand for communication-related occupations by bringing back its degree in communication beginning in fall 2019. Data from Hanover Research projects a nearly 28 percent growth in communication-related occupations in Idaho by 2024 and the flexibility of employment opportunities with the emphasis makes it a highly sought after degree by employers. The university offered a degree in communication studies until 2008 and students have since been able to minor in the discipline. Given the multidisciplinary nature of the field, a Bachelor of Arts or Sciences in communication prepares students to enter a variety of high-demand occupations that are experiencing high-growth, including public relations, marketing, sales, editing and writing. Coursework for the degree includes classes in interpersonal, organizational and intercultural communication. The degree in communication is U of I’s sixth fully online bachelor’s degree. The other five are general studies, history, organizational sciences, psychology and sociology with a criminology emphasis.

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Letter from the President
Nov. 2, 2018
Dear Friends,
Idaho has many effective and experienced physicians – my wife happens to be one of them. But the overall physician shortage – the state recently ranked 49th nationwide in physicians per capita – poses a challenge for our communities. Especially acute in rural areas, a deficit of primary care and specialist physicians means limited on-the-ground expertise to combat troubling health trends, especially devastating problems such as substance abuse and dependency.
 
In Idaho, a report commissioned by the governor’s Office of Drug Policy in 2017 noted drastic increases in prescription opioid access, heroin possession, and age-adjusted mortality from 2008 to 2015 - a nearly 50 percent uptick. Our state is certainly not alone in facing the challenges of the opioid epidemic. But our Idaho WWAMI Medical Education Program – our state's publicly supported medical school – offers the University of Idaho a chance to exercise land-grant leadership through the adoption of the successful Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) model.
 
Project ECHO empowers primary care providers in remote or underserved communities in Idaho to treat issues requiring specialist expertise. Connecting with a panel of experts in bi-weekly one-hour video conferences, primary care doctors, nurses and other clinicians from far-flung areas learn by doing, presenting de-identified cases to their colleagues and specialists. Treatment suggestions are generated from the entire community of practice. Each session also includes a short presentation on a specific clinical topic.
 
So far the program has offered more than 150 providers from nearly 80 sites in three dozen communities a chance to learn tools and techniques that can improve health and even save lives in our communities. That includes sessions on behavioral health, a focus added this fall. Mary Beth and I joined a September session that focused on practices around the use of naloxone for opioid overdose reversal. Sitting in, we were impressed by the expertise on the topic, the thoughtful questions from participants and the patient-centered conversation. Everybody wants to make an impact on the often harrowing problem of addiction and abuse.
 
The new behavioral health focus is supported by a three-year federal grant that facilitates twice-monthly mental health ECHO trainings to recognize mental disorders and employ crisis de-escalation techniques, a toolkit of mental healthcare resources and access to a referral network for patients. I know Idaho WWAMI Director Jeff Seegmiller and his team are excited about this focus and see even more potential focuses – geriatric medicine, palliative care, chronic pain and more. I share his belief in Project ECHO as a workforce multiplier that extends the availability of care in order to facilitate health and well-being.
 
It’s a testament to the hard work of the Idaho WWAMI program, its partners among our expert community, and our eager and conscientious network of program participants that Project ECHO was recently nominated to receive an Idaho Rural Health Hero award. The Idaho Rural Health Association recognized the program’s commitment to treating opioid addiction and offering behavioral health education.
 
We’re proud of that recognition. But the real satisfaction is harder to capture – it’s in avoiding heartbreaking problems like opioid addiction in our small towns when we have the tools to combat them. It’s the young women and men who won’t be ensnared or killed by addiction before they can pursue their dreams. It’s the community members who can know they have options for help if they struggle. That’s the leadership role our land-grant university can and should take, and I appreciate our Idaho WWAMI program stepping up to the challenge.  
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Marching to the Beat of Philanthropy

Like many U of I alumni, Doug ’75 and Judith ’75 Gross loved listening to the Vandal Marching Band on their visits to campus. When Judith passed in 2012, Doug honored her by establishing the band’s first-ever endowed scholarship in her name. “Between rehearsals, performances and extra events, Vandal Marching Band members — all full-time students — dedicate hundreds of hours throughout the fall,” said Spencer Martin, director of athletic bands. “The Judith A. Gross Marching Band Memorial Scholarship allows us to reward a student each year who goes above and beyond the call and who represents the best of the University of Idaho. It is a truly special gift.” Over the past six years, Doug and his wife Mary Hasenoehrl have continued to support the Vandal Marching Band in Judith’s memory, including their recent spring Vandal Giving Day matching gift that went toward the band’s new uniforms. To support band scholarships or help the band replace their 16-year-old uniforms, please contact the U of I Foundation at 208-885-4000 or gifts@uidaho.edu.

U of I Team Advances in $10 Million Water Prize Challenge

A University of Idaho team has advanced to the final stage of a $10 million competition to find the best way to stop to toxic algae blooms from poisoning drinking water supplies and the environment. The Everglades Foundation announced four finalists for the George Barley Water Prize. It will be awarded to the team with the best way to remove phosphorus from public waters. Phosphorus causes algae blooms worldwide. U of I environmental chemist Greg Moller, soil scientist Dan Strawn and mechanical engineer Martin Baker finished in the top four teams, winning the right to move on to the final round. U of I’s Clean Water Machine, an innovative reactive filtration system, uses biochar (an activated charcoal), iron-oxide and ozone to strip phosphorus from polluted waters to extremely low levels. Its byproducts can help food production. The original field competing for the Barley Prize included 104 teams from around the world. The competition began in 2015 with a search for new ideas. The U of I team consistently ranked among the top competitors at each stage.

U of I Awards More Than $25 Million in Scholarships

The University of Idaho has awarded more than $25 million in scholarship support to more than 6,000 students this fall – the vast majority from Idaho. The funds are being awarded to students from 46 states and all backgrounds for the 2018-19 academic year, part of the university’s mission to make a higher education accessible to students entering college from all walks of life. Of the approximately 6,000 undergraduate students receiving support, more than 4,000 are from Idaho and will receive over $12 million in scholarships. “These scholarships are part of U of I’s mission to invest in our students’ education and ensure their success at the university and beyond,” said Dan Davenport, director of Student Financial Aid Services. “This support is vital to providing the necessary skills needed for the workforce and to increase degree completion for all Idahoans regardless of financial hardship.” U of I scholarships are a mix of merit, need-based and outstanding achievement awards. Many scholarships are funded privately via the University of Idaho Foundation Inc. through the generosity of donors and alumni.

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Letter from the President
Oct. 26, 2018
Dear Friends,
A Vandal educational experience means countless opportunities to get involved, pursue interests and grow as a person in ways that will sustain you over a lifetime. For this week’s Friday Letter, I had the chance to sit down with Nicole Skinner, president of the Associated Students of the University of Idaho. Nicole is from Meridian and will graduate this spring after only three years at U of I with degrees in political science and in economics, as well as a minor in psychology. In her first year as ASUI president, Nicole is passionate about student service and leadership.
 
President Chuck Staben: Tell us a little about yourself. Why did you choose to attend the University of Idaho?
ASUI President Nicole Skinner: There were a few factors that went into my decision. The campus visit was a game-changer for me: getting to see people interact, seeing how beautiful the campus was, learning the history that it had – all of that was really important. But I also had to self-finance my entire education, so the affordability at U of I was also really important for me. Ultimately, the University of Idaho was the best value for an undergraduate education.
 
CS: Why did you want to be president of ASUI? What drew you to that?
NS: I was an ASUI senator for a year prior to becoming president. I’ve always been really passionate about policy and the way it affects people’s lives. As a senator, I got to work on great initiatives at the campus level. But I viewed the presidency as a method to advocate for students across the broader state outside of Moscow.
 
CS: What are your priorities as ASUI president? What matters to you the most?
NS: One of my top priorities is getting students engaged in the political process outside of the university. We’re creating a higher education report card in collaboration with the student governments of the other public colleges and universities in Idaho, which is coming out next week. The report examines which legislators have voted for higher education advocacy bills in the past legislative session and will be updated every year. We’re hoping to use this as a voter education tool and a voter turnout tool, informing students about which legislators have advocated for higher education in the past to hopefully mobilize them to vote. In the long term, this could be a way to reduce the cost of college for students.
 
CS: What’s your advice to students about being involved at U of I?
NS: Involvement looks a little different to different people, but there’s something for everyone. We have dozens upon dozens of student organizations that are very active. Student government is always an option. Regardless of what your time commitments are, there is an opportunity available for you. ASUI now takes up a lot more of my time, but I was previously involved with a Greek organization, and I would participate in intramurals. I also worked at the Women’s Center for two years, and I spent a lot of time working on sexual assault programming. I was involved with many groups, like the diversity offices, that would regularly interact with the Women’s Center. Even if students don’t have time to dedicate to a student organization or leadership position, just going to events is a good way to remain involved and stay informed. That’s one of my favorite ways to stay involved.
 
CS: What’s surprised you about being president?
NS: I feel like I had a pretty good understanding of what the position would be, honestly. When you’re representing such a diverse group of people who all care about a lot of different things, it gets easy to get lost in a million different requests instead of sorting through and focusing on a few main initiatives. You want to represent everyone, you want to advocate for everything, but at the end of the day you have to pick your priorities. So that can be difficult, but I expected it.

CS: What’s the most fun thing you’ve gotten to do as ASUI president?
NS: Well, being on the field at the ISU game was really cool. To be honest, I’m a total nerd, so the things I get really excited about are the projects I get to work on, like the report card. When we release the report cared I’ll be ecstatic. I get to be involved in higher level conversations, and that’s a huge honor, a huge privilege, and it’s a great platform to represent student interests. So I think that’s my favorite thing on a day-to-day basis.
 
CS: Have you had an experience at U of I that has changed the way you see the world?
NS: I’m going on a winter Alternative Service Break in Ecuador. I’ve never left the country, so this will be a new experience for me. We’re not going in and just creating our own project, we’re contributing to an organization that’s already doing great work and knows the needs of the area. I’ve spent the past several years of my life trying to educate myself about people different from me, that come from different walks of life from me. Now I want to break outside of my bubble a little bit. Although I’ve made a great effort to do that, I’ve lived in Idaho all my life, and no matter how much I try to educate myself, I think seeing a different place is sometimes more impactful.
 
CS: What are you planning to do after graduation?
NS: I really want to work with public policy. There are a lot of issues I’m passionate about. I could see myself working as a lobbyist, working on a political campaign or working on a public policy team for a company. In the long term, I’d like to run for office. I’m passionate about housing policy, sustainability policy, reproductive policy and civil rights in general. I’m sure I’ll be applying for some internships on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., but I think there are a lot of places more locally that need strong leadership as well. At the end of the day, I want to impact the world as much as I possibly can, so I will to go wherever I feel like I can do that.
 
President Staben: Thanks, Nicole, for sharing your perspective, and for serving our students as their representative. Student readers: ASUI is sponsoring a bus to the U of I vs. Eastern Washington University football game Saturday. Check out VandalSync to reserve a spot, and go cheer on your Vandals!
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
We appreciate President Nicole Skinner's leadership, and the efforts of all ASUI leaders to contribute to U of I's student-centered community.
Latest News from U of I

Rooted in Vandal Country, Growing the Future 

Bob ’71 and Marcia ’71 Ross both grew up in Moscow and consider the University of Idaho “their second home.” Bob’s parents, Richard H. Ross, Extension dairy specialist emeritus, and Mary Jean, were active in student affairs, co-founding the FarmHouse fraternity’s Idaho chapter and opening their doors to homesick students. Swayed by his father’s colleagues, Bob accepted a U of I basketball scholarship, and he and Marcia got married during their senior year as Vandals. Bob and Marcia share the family tradition of helping Vandals succeed. They recently made a gift to the ICCU Arena through their Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and also included U of I in their estate plans, providing significant scholarship support for future Vandals. “We want to give students financial support,” Bob said, “especially those who might not pursue a university education without it.” Marcia said, “We love the idea of helping students in need.” For more information about making a gift from your IRA or in your will to the University of Idaho, contact Sharon Morgan, morgans@uidaho.edu or toll-free at 866-671-7041.

U of I Researchers Awarded $2.6 Million to Develop Nuclear Technologies

University of Idaho researchers have received funding for five nuclear engineering research and development projects aimed at making nuclear reactors safer, more resilient to stressors, compatible with renewable energy systems, and capable of producing synthetic fuels and other beneficial byproducts. This $2.6 million from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) will help maintain U of I’s efforts to develop nuclear energy innovations that suit the world’s changing energy needs. U of I will be joined on these projects by partners including the Idaho National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the Missouri University of Science and Technology. “The success of our nuclear engineering faculty in Idaho Falls and Moscow has been demonstrated by these awards,” said Larry Stauffer, dean of the College of Engineering. “The research will not only advance nuclear technology but provide valuable experience to our graduate students.”

Moscow No. 1 Place in America to Raise a Family

The city of Moscow was recently named No. 1 nationwide in Livability’s 2018 “10 Best Places to Raise a Family” report. Livability, an online resource for researching cities across a variety of metrics, based their report on measures such as “the availability (and affordability) of daycare, the number of other kids to play with, the quality of local schools, transportation options, cost of living, and number of parks and libraries.” The ranking commends Moscow for its school system, kid-friendly stores and restaurants, and recreational opportunities such as the Latah Trail bike path, 17 city parks and an aquatics center. The University of Idaho also offers “tons of fun sporting events and activities for families to take advantage of all year-round” and the University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Garden, which is “the perfect place to let kids run around and burn off some energy.” Livability notes Moscow has also placed on its “Top 100 Best Places to Live” and “10 Best Affordable Places to Live” lists this year. 

Share Your Vandal Marching Band Story

The Vandal Marching Band celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2019. Band historian Shannon Kelly ’15 is collecting alumni stories, photos, videos and memorabilia for a special 100th anniversary book and collection. Help tell the story of the Sound of Idaho by sending your stories, images, gear, etc. to kellys@uidaho.edu by Nov. 1.

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Letter from the President
Oct. 19, 2018
Dear Friends,
Homecoming is a special time at the University of Idaho. I’m proud to welcome our alumni back for an exciting weekend of festivities, and I’m glad to see our students embrace the spirit of the weekend.  While we enjoy the celebration, we also have some work to do – many alumni are participants on U of I advisory boards, lending their time, talent and treasure to drive U of I excellence and progress.
 
There are many ways alumni contribute to success for students, to innovation and discovery that changes the world, and to engagement that sustains healthy and prosperous communities. I’ll talk to our advisory boards – the extended leadership network for our institution – about the progress we’re making on our Strategic Plan and the challenges we have to tackle. Each college or unit – like the Library or the Idaho WWAMI Medical Education Program – is in a position to take on a bite-sized piece of the Strategic Plan. We’ll need the advice and advocacy of our extended leadership to make that work successful.
 
As our alumni gather on campus, I want to thank them for their generosity in financial terms to the University of Idaho. The support of alumni, as well as other friends of the university, industries in Idaho and elsewhere, and an array of other generous organizations, has meant another record year for giving to the university. In fact, FY18’s total of $42,666,652 represented a second consecutive annual record.  A total of 10,437 donors contributed – every single one a vote of confidence in the life-changing work of the University of Idaho.
 
We honored that generosity last night at our annual Silver and Gold Gala, including the recognition of 47 Vandal friends and alumni who joined our Silver and Gold Society. We have six inductees into the 1889 Society as well, recognizing a remarkable standard of generosity. They include Idaho Central Credit Union, who supported our arena project with a naming rights gift this past January; the University of Idaho Alumni Association; the University of Idaho Foundation; and the Associated Students of the University of Idaho.
 
I’m also incredibly proud to recognize Priscilla Wegars as a member of the 1889 Society. Priscilla has dedicated her career to studying the historical archaeology of Asian-Americans in the West, especially as the volunteer curator for the Asian American Comparative Collection in the Laboratory of Anthropology. Her contributions help that great legacy continue. “I’m sort of in the giving back mode,” Priscilla said. “I started the Asian American Comparative Collection endowment 30 years ago, and it’s been added to by various people over the years.” Just as we appreciate her exemplary scholarship, we’re deeply grateful for Priscilla’s incredible generosity.
 
Vandal excellence comes down to the hard work and personal investment of many people, in many different ways. As we watch the parade tomorrow – and welcome back grand marshal and newly minted Pro Football Hall of Fame member Jerry Kramer – and root for the Vandals in the game, we’re celebrating an annual renewal of our community. I’m proud of our extended Vandal family for staying close to the university and contributing to the success of this institution. Because it’s not about U of I, really – it’s about our students, our scholarship, and the communities across this state that we call home.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

University Gala Celebrates Donor Generosity and Impact

Last night, the University of Idaho celebrated the generosity of our donors at the annual University Gala. U of I proudly inducted six new 1889 Society members – recognizing alumni, friends and partners with lifetime contributions totaling $1 million and more, as well as 47 new Silver and Gold Society members – alumni, friends and partners with lifetime giving of $100,000 to $999,999. The 2018 1889 Society inductees include the Idaho Central Credit Union, Priscilla S. Wegars, Howard E. and Sally J. Ahlskog, the University of Idaho Alumni Association, the Associated Students of the University of Idaho and the University of Idaho Foundation. The new 1889 Society and Silver and Gold Society members have been added to the university’s Legacy of Giving donor recognition display in the Administration Building foyer. The university is grateful to the 10,602 donors who contributed more than $42.5 million in the last fiscal year. That generosity allows transformational programs, projects and opportunities to continue inspiring new generations of Vandals. For more information on giving to U of I, including priority initiatives like the ICCU Arena and student scholarships, visit the Give to Idaho website.

Native American Teaching Strategies Supported by Nearly $1 Million Grant

A second class of future indigenous teachers will soon continue the mission of improving K-12 educational experiences for the region’s American Indian/Alaska Native youth with the assistance of a nearly $1 million grant to the University of Idaho from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Indian Education. New scholars will be accepted into the Indigenous Knowledge for Effective Education Program (IKEEP) to complete elementary or secondary pre-service teacher education with a concentration in indigenous culturally and linguistically responsive training, beginning in summer 2019.  The five-year program is designed so scholars meet requirements for full state teacher certification and job placement in regional schools serving high proportions of Native American students. The program builds capacity of indigenous teachers through structured opportunities to improve Native American school achievement, in collaboration with the Nez Perce and Coeur d’Alene tribes, the State Tribal Education Partnership Projects, indigenous teacher mentors, the Indian Education Committee at the Idaho State Department of Education and the American Indian Language Development Institute.

Share Your Vandal Marching Band Story

The Vandal Marching Band celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2019. Band historian Shannon Kelly ’15 is collecting alumni stories, photos, videos and memorabilia for a special 100th anniversary book and collection. Help tell the story of the Sound of Idaho by sending your stories, images, gear, etc. to kellys@uidaho.edu by Nov. 1.

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Letter from the President
Oct. 12, 2018
Dear Friends,
One of the University of Idaho’s greatest strengths is our Vandal alumni, a constant since 1899 when the university’s 17 alumni to that date formed the Idaho Alumni Association. In the nearly 120 years since, we’ve added more than 100,000 graduates to a close-knit group that offers camaraderie and common bonds around a shared love for the institution. For students, alumni mean a powerful network that will be there to help a fellow Vandal on his or her way up. And for the university, we draw upon our alumni for counsel and support, through good times and bad. This week I spoke with Kathy Barnard ’81, our assistant vice president for alumni relations and advancement communications. She’s led our alumni office with enthusiasm and innovation since returning to her alma mater in 2016.
 
President Chuck Staben: Next weekend is Homecoming. What does that mean for Vandals returning to U of I?
Kathy Barnard: Homecoming is like the largest and best family reunion you can imagine. Vandals from all over the country migrate back to Moscow at a time when the campus is arguably at its most beautiful. They reconnect with their roommates, pledge classes, classmates, faculty and staff. They show their Vandal pride, buy their mom an “I” Mum corsage, sing the fight song loud and proud, and enjoy everyone else doing the same thing. There’s a parade, which this year will feature Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee and former Vandal player Jerry Kramer as the grand marshal. There are parties, tailgating, the Vandal Marching Band and football. It’s a time to “come home” to a place where many of us grew into who we are today. It's truly a beautiful thing.
 
CS: You’ve helped spur some different ways of engaging our alumni over the past couple years. What new or innovative programs should alumni know about?
KB: In addition to more traditional activities, the Office of Alumni Relations team — which, by the way, is amazing — and I have worked to broaden programming to better reflect the wide range of interests of the Vandal Family. We initiated the Vandal Book Club, an online space to discuss books with fellow alumni. We formed Vandals Uncorked!, a club that highlights the growing number of Vandals in the wine industry and delivers four bottles of delicious Vandal-influenced wines to your door twice a year. We just launched Vandalopoly, a version of Monopoly that includes iconic Vandal places.
 
We also have added events to highlight the beautiful state in which we live. About 100 Vandals floated the Salmon River last July, with a Vandal-owned outfitter for Vandal Rafting Day. Vandal Ski Day happens over Presidents Day Weekend in McCall, and again, is an opportunity to have some fun, enjoy lunch on the mountain and visit with fellow Vandals. So, yes, we’re trying to mix it up and keep it fun. 
 
CS: Where can our alumni help us achieve our goals? How do they get involved in initiatives like enrollment growth?
KB: Vandal alumni are a passionate, talented, motivated workforce that we can and should tap into more. They serve on advisory boards at the college and institutional level. They help to mentor current students and young alumni – and often end up hiring them. Alumni volunteer to serve in our 17 chapters. They identify and help to recruit potential new Vandals; they help to staff “Meet the Vandals” and other recruiting events. They are our most loyal and generous donors. And, many of them would like to get even more involved. 
 
CS: Sometimes, newer college graduates don’t engage in the alumni community right away. What are advantages for our younger alumni in getting involved with the alumni association?
KB: There’s a reason other institutions talk in terms of being a “nation,” and we talk about the Vandal “family.” Almost anywhere they land, young alumni will find a group of Vandals ready and able to help them get started. There are formal chapters in all of the major cities in Idaho, plus Portland, Spokane, Seattle, Denver, Phoenix, Sacramento, New York and Washington, D.C., and informal groups in many other places. These provide built-in networks for young alums for career and professional development, as well as a ready-made community who knows what you’re talking about when you mention Hello Walk.
 
 
CS: What has it meant to you, personally, to lead the university, your alma mater, in this role?
KB: First of all, it is a great honor. What better way to spend your working days than serving a group of people you know are well-educated, hardworking and good-hearted? The Vandal Family is amazing, and it is wonderful to be charged with finding ways to keep them connected to each other and to the university. I have met and made some wonderful new friends.
 
Secondly, serving in this capacity is a way to give back to an institution that has given me so much. I received a quality education at the U of I, as did my husband, son, daughter and son-in-law. We all have felt well-prepared to pursue our professional passions and have made friends for a lifetime.
 
CS: What are you excited about in the future for the Office of Alumni Relations? What should Vandals know?
KB: I am most excited about growing and galvanizing Vandal alumni chapters around the country, and hopefully not too far into the future, around the globe.
 
Vandals should know the Office of Alumni Relations is a resource for them to connect and engage and volunteer, and that we are here to help in any way we can. They should know that the best way to stay in touch with and informed about their alma mater is to read what we send them, subscribe to The Friday Letter and Vandal Vibe, and follow our social media channels.
 
Vandals should also know that the education current students are receiving today is as hands-on, relevant and rigorous today as it was when they went to school. The Vandal Family is strong and growing. Go Vandals!

CS: Thank you, Kathy, for your passion and hard work on behalf of our alumni family. I agree – Go Vandals!
Chuck Staben
Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

College of Law Class of 1978 Gives Back

In honor of their 40th reunion, the University of Idaho College of Law Class of 1978 reconnected for a weekend of fun. They reflected upon their individual and collective law school experiences and shared the significant role their time at U of I has had on their careers, and more importantly, their lives. To mark the occasion, the class established an endowment to provide an annual scholarship award for College of Law students. The fund will allow the College of Law to provide student scholarships to students who are historically underrepresented among the student body and demonstrate financial need. If you would like to learn more about organizing a College of Law class reunion or giving to the College of Law, contact Michele Bartlett at 208-364-4044 or bartlett@uidaho.edu. Mark your calendars with upcoming College of Law events, including the Bellwood Memorial Lecture, Oct. 23 in Boise and Oct. 24 in Moscow.

Higher Education Is the Road to Idaho's Future

Guest column by President Chuck Staben originally published in the Twin Falls Times-News: “See it, and you can be it.” That’s the inspiring message you’ll hear often from Jerome High School and University of Idaho alumna Michelle Aragon. Michelle, now a vice president in marketing at a global firm in New York City, recently joined myself and others on a trip to Jerome. We wanted a firsthand look at U of I’s Caminos al Futuro project, a focused effort to improve college-going in the community, especially among Hispanic youth.
This is a beautiful part of Idaho — clear blue skies, fields with growing crops, abundant silos and dairies and other signs of agriculture-based prosperity. But we’re working to make sure the view in communities like Jerome includes college education. Hispanics make up Idaho’s most rapidly growing demographic segment, but educational attainment still lags. Read more.

2018 Research Report Reflects Growth and Investment

The Office of Research and Economic Development announces the publication of the University of Idaho's 2018 Research Report. The publication includes a "by the numbers" breakdown of U of I's sponsored research activity, research expenditures and technology commercialization successes. The report also includes a message from Janet Nelson, vice president for research and economic development, and six stories that reflect the university's work for innovation and discovery, its commitment to faculty success, and its drive to advance Idaho’s economy and support the aspirations of its citizens.

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Letter from the President
Oct. 5, 2018
Dear Friends,
“See it, and you can be it.” That’s the inspiring message you’ll often hear from Jerome High School and University of Idaho alumna Michelle Aragon. Michelle, now a vice president at a global marketing firm, was our Convocation speaker this fall. I asked her to join me and others as we visited Jerome to learn more about our Caminos al Futuro project.
 
Arising out of our Vandal Ideas Project, an internal grant program meant to stimulate unique and collaborative approaches to problems, our Caminos al Futuro “Roads to the Future” program offers highly focused outreach embedded in Jerome High School. Up to 40 students, mainly Hispanic, in eighth to 12th grade receive integrated and enhanced U of I services, including academic coaching, college counseling, summer programs and family engagement. The goal of the project is to promote college going in a rural community, especially among a population where rates of postsecondary attainment remain stubbornly low despite a fast-growing population.
 
What we found in Jerome were students and staff excited about turning those statistics into success stories. Primarily an agricultural community, where dairy, alfalfa, corn and barley dominate the landscape, many students might not expect to do something different, or even to go to college and return to agriculture in a different position. Caminos al Futuro is helping change that outlook.
 
High school students are often reticent around adults asking prying questions, but we did draw students out on the question of what they wanted to do when they grew up. Professional soccer is a popular choice, and not a surprising one, in my view, as the father of two boys who loved sports. We did hear from several students who had their sights set far away – specifically, astronomy. Perhaps spurred by a NASA summer camp experience, that dream was likely also nurtured by talking with the caring and passionate staff at Jerome High. The dinner-table conversations for families of those students are no doubt helping make college seem like a less-distant reality – part of the college-going culture change we want to foster.
 
A visit to any dairy farm in Idaho will make it clear how hardworking the people of an agricultural community are. These are families who want the best for their children. For many, that might mean staying close to home. But for many, it could also mean achievement through higher education – success that could take students to distant places, as with Michelle, or even really distant places, like the stars. It could also mean students come back to Jerome prepared to help the community flourish in new and exciting ways.
 
Thanks to the hard work of Jerome High School staff, and U of I leaders like Yolanda Bisbee, our chief diversity officer and Jim Lindstrom, 4-H Youth Development director, the pathway we’ve established in Jerome will continue. Recently, the Caminos al Futuro project received a five-year, $548,000 USDA grant. That support means we’ll have the time and resources to test this program and see what approaches can scale up to other communities in our state.
 
From Jerome, college might seem far away. But I am excited that more students are learning that it’s closer than they might have thought. See it, and you can be it.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Idaho Barley Commission Gift Supports CALS Research

This summer, the Idaho Barley Commission voted to increase the Barley Agronomy Professorship Endowment, previously funded at $1 million, with an additional gift of $325,000. This support enhances the research of Christopher Rogers, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) faculty member holding the professorship. “The Idaho Barley Commission understands the crucial role of science and best practices in helping our growers be more profitable,” said Laura Wilder, Idaho Barley Commission administrator. “Although we are small compared to many other commissions, funding these projects is vital to the strength of the Idaho barley industry and helps our growers be successful for the long-term.” This gift continues the commission’s legacy of support and collaboration, from ongoing research funding to their $30,000 gift toward the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE). “We’re grateful for the commission’s investment in CALS,” said Michael Parrella, CALS dean. “The partnership we have with the Idaho Barley Commission exemplifies how the university and agriculture industry can work together to drive agricultural progress in the state.” For more information on supporting this endowment, Idaho CAFE or CALS, contact Jen Root at jroot@uidaho.edu or 208-885-4087.

Report Shows U of I Graduates Stand Out in Earnings

PayScale’s 2018-19 College Salary Report shows University of Idaho graduates earned higher mid-career salaries – an average of $95,200 – than graduates of any other institution in Idaho. The university also produced a high number of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) graduates – 22 percent. At No. 385, U of I ranked among the top 400 schools nationwide for graduate earnings. That compares well with peers among other national research universities. “Our annual report provides data to inform decisions about which school may make the most sense to attend, and even which major to choose based on a variety of factors. Students and parents want to make informed decisions about future career and income opportunities associated with their college education investment,” said PayScale Vice President Lydia Frank. “While earning potential should not be the only consideration, it is an important factor, especially when evaluating the cost of education today.”

Vandals in Focus 2018

For Vandals, learning isn’t limited to the classroom. In fact, two-thirds of Vandal undergraduates engage in research, scholarly work or creative activities outside of their classes. In the 2018 Vandals in Focus magazine, undergraduate writers and photographers document the depth of research opportunities available to undergraduates at the University of Idaho. 

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Letter from the President
Sept. 28, 2018
Dear Friends,
This week we came together for our annual State of the University address, a chance to celebrate accomplishments over the past year, understand our challenges, and look ahead to progress on Strategic Plan goals and key initiatives. We have understandable uncertainty as we face a leadership transition. But we also have a strong plan, breadth and depth in our leadership, and a common belief in our land-grant mission.
 
Our Strategic Plan continues to provide a roadmap for reaching our goals. Over the past year, we’ve again achieved excellent results in our “Innovate” goal to conduct research and scholarship with impact. One way to measure that success – not the only way – is via record-setting research expenditures, $109.5 million in FY17. We also increased our number of submitted proposals, total new awards, invention disclosures and patent applications. Just last week, we shared in a $20 million EPSCoR award from the National Science Foundation. We’re excelling in rangeland and agricultural work. Across disciplines, we have any number of compelling scholarship and creative projects. I appreciate the hard work and strategic effort of so many faculty researchers and staff members.
 
Our “Engage” goal remains important. As a statewide, land-grant university, we have the opportunity to continue to improve Idaho’s college-going culture. The Direct Admissions and Apply Idaho programs are streamlining the pathway to college. We also know that many well-qualified students who can succeed at U of I take time off before entering college. For that reason, this fall we’re rolling out a “durable admissions” policy that allows students to defer admissions after high school for up to four years, as opposed to one year. Students who go on missions, serve in the military, or take time to work can now be confident that when they’re ready, they have a place at U of I. We welcome these students – their maturity and experience contributes greatly to our campus.
 
Discussing our “Transform” goal, it is important to candidly address our enrollment. While numbers are not final until October, we may see a slight decline in new, full-time students. That affects our ability to serve as many students as we feel we should. It will also impact our budget, a challenge we’ll take on throughout the year. That should not stop us from continuing to recruit talented students from Idaho and elsewhere. We must also focus on student success during college – retention and progression through to graduation and careers. Our adoption of the VandalStar data management system – offering timely interventions for students in need – will help us better focus our resources for those students. Our emphasis on high-impact experiences, including undergraduate research, and exciting work opportunities, like the Fenway Group partnership for information technology jobs, will continue to result in unmatched success for current and future Vandals.
 
We’re also focused on how we “Cultivate” a diverse and valued community. To bolster efforts to recruit and retain talented faculty and staff, a market-based compensation initiative has brought more faculty and staff to targeted salaries. We’re concentrating on fostering a diverse and inclusive university, drawing students from around the world, and making sure our campus lives up to our expectations as a safe and welcoming environment for all people.
 
How do we continue to make progress on our goals? In the 1970s, I watched climber Beverly Johnson solo summit El Capitan in Yosemite National Park – a pioneering feat where each handhold matters in making incremental progress. She told the media that her approach was simple: There’s only one way to eat an elephant – one bite at a time. Without taking our eyes off the big picture, each Vandal student, each faculty member, each staff member, has a bite they can take to climb up our El Capitan – being a great public research university.

I think the video below captures some of the passion and enthusiasm we have as we reflect on the past year and look forward to the work ahead – please, enjoy, and share.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
State of the University 2018
Latest News from U of I

How Henry Adams Makes a Difference at U of I

As a lifelong conservation advocate and College of Natural Resources (CNR) alumnus, Henry Adams ’74 believes in supporting his alma mater. “I believe that it is a civic duty for graduates to give back whenever their professional career’s opportunity and success is, in good measure, due to their educational experience,” he said. Indeed, Adams’ successful career includes work as a soil scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Soil Conservation Service, a camp recreation counselor, and a volunteer tour guide at the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens. He invests in the continued academic success and leadership development of CNR students with his scholarship and endowment support. Most recently, he backed the purchase of the Rinker Rock Creek Ranch, a unique collaboration with The Nature Conservancy and Wood River Land Trust to promote rangeland research and management. For more information about this endowment or other opportunities to make a difference in CNR, contact Jennifer Farnum at 208-885-5145 or jfarnum@uidaho.edu.

U of I Researcher, Cassini Team Spot Dust Storms on Titan

Data from the international Cassini spacecraft, which explored Saturn and its moons between 2004 and 2017, has revealed what appear to be giant dust storms in the equatorial regions of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. A team of scientists, including University of Idaho astrophysicist Jason Barnes, published their findings in the journal Nature Geoscience. “We now know that Titan has active dust transport, making it only the third place in our solar system where we’ve seen this. Until now, it’s been Earth and the global dust storms on Mars,” said Barnes, an associate professor in the Department of Physics. “This information is essential for anyone, like myself, who wants to send a probe to Titan.” Titan is the only moon in our solar system with a substantial atmosphere and the only celestial body other than Earth known to have stable bodies of surface liquid. Barnes is a member of a research team that hopes to send a drone-like rotocraft to Titan. The team is one of two finalists for funding from NASA’s New Frontiers Program.

Professor Displays Artwork at World's Largest Design Exhibition

John Anderson, program head and associate professor of Virtual Technology and Design in the College of Art and Architecture, was one of 50 designers across the globe honored at Venice Design 2018, the world's largest design exhibition. His artwork on exhibit is a sculpture that incorporates lead weights topped with silver to create two images — one of Lake Coeur d'Alene and another of the region's sacred Cutthroat trout. Heavy metal contaminated sediment from the region's industrial activity was deposited in Lake Coeur d'Alene over the course of a century. Anderson's sculpture is an abstraction of research resulting from a $20 million National Science Foundation grant to study Idaho's water quality and the social-ecological system (SES) impacts of this activity. His sculpture will be on display through November.

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Letter from the President
Sept. 21, 2018
Dear Friends,
This afternoon, I’ll board a plane and head to California to support our Vandal football team as they take on the Aggies of the University of California, Davis. I’ve made a similar trek many times over the past several years – sometimes closer, sometimes farther. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to cheer on the efforts of our student-athletes as they represent our university.
 
But today’s journey is different. It’s a chance to see our Vandals as we make our return to the Big Sky Conference. The Aggies have played a strong couple of games to start their season. I know our Vandals will bring their skills, passion and teamwork to bear on this first conference test, and they’re not looking past the Aggies as we anticipate our conference home opener the following week.
 
Like U of I, UC Davis is a public, land-grant research university. We’re excited about the opportunity to play against similar foes as well as additional regional matchups in the conference. When we take on teams like Idaho State and the University of Montana later this season, it will help ignite rivalries dormant since Idaho last was so successful as a member of the Big Sky for more than 30 years. We’ll see fans of our Big Sky opponents in the dome this year, and I know many alumni and fans will be able to travel to away destinations like Cheney, Pocatello and Bozeman.
 
As you cheer on the Vandals this fall, know that you’re not just rooting for football players. These are young men committed to the student side of the student-athlete equation. Our football team was part of an Athletics Department that raised the bar for GPA at U of I last year; we even saw our first first-team Academic All-American since the early 1970s. Our students are continuing that success in the classroom this fall while continuing to learn and grow as members of the U of I community and also training on safety and violence prevention. I hope we can all be united around the success of our student-athletes.
 
The fact is, we have a lot to be excited about in Athletics. We’re focused on completing our Idaho Central Credit Union Arena project this year – we just received a $250,000 gift toward the project from our great community partners at the Best Western Plus University Inn – and getting shovels in the ground in the spring. Our volleyball team began Big Sky play this week; our soccer team opens that portion of its schedule today in the Kibbie Dome. We have an exciting season for basketball – tickets for the 2018 Vandal Holiday Hoops Showcase in Boise are already on sale. A budget challenge remains for the department, but we should continue to stay passionate about what our student-athletes are able to achieve as we take that on this year.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Best Western Plus University Inn Creates Investment in the Community

Since opening its doors in 1978, the Best Western Plus University Inn has supported initiatives that strengthen both the Moscow community and the University of Idaho. The hotel recently bolstered the Idaho Central Credit Union Arena project with a $250,000 gift. “The Best Western Plus University Inn has been a dependable partner for many years,” President Chuck Staben said. “Their support means a lot for the future of this project, our university and our community.” "The Best Western Plus University Inn is proud and extremely excited to support the ICCU Arena,” said Mike O’Brien, general manager. “This new arena will be a valuable campus and community resource. We look forward to welcoming arena visitors to our newly remodeled hotel for years to come.” For information on supporting the ICCU Arena, please contact Michael Perry at michaelcperry@uidaho.edu or 208-885-1029.

$20 Million Award Focuses on Trout, Sagebrush Genetics

The University of Idaho will share a $20 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support research aimed at uncovering and predicting how rainbow trout and sagebrush adjust to changing environments. The award, received through the NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) program, is shared with Idaho EPSCoR partners at Boise State University and Idaho State University and may help inform natural resource policies and management decisions throughout the American West. U of I and the EPSCoR partners are receiving the money with $4 million in matching funds from Idaho’s Higher Education Research Council. The award will support research, education and workforce development at Idaho’s public research universities and participating undergraduate institutions for the next five years. The project will look into the genetic, environmental and social systems connected to rainbow trout and sagebrush populations, while helping researchers better understand a broad range of organisms in the Gem State.

Vandal Holiday Hoops Showcase Announces Matchups and Tickets

Basketball season is just around the corner and the men of Idaho are already preparing for an exciting weekend in Boise, with tickets to the 2018 Vandal Holiday Hoops Showcase on sale for as low as $15 per day for the general public and just $10 for students. Get tickets by visiting GoVandals.com/VHHSTix or calling 208-331-TIXS (8497). Suites and courtside tables can be reserved by contacting the CenturyLink Arena Office at 208-472-2115. Matchups for the Showcase have also been released. Friday, Nov. 23, gets started with UC Santa Barbara taking on Portland State at 5 p.m.  Idaho will go up against Northwest Nazarene immediately following. Saturday’s action begins with Portland State and NNU at 5 p.m., with Idaho meeting UC Santa Barbara at approximately 7 p.m. Season tickets for the Vandals in Moscow will go on sale in the coming weeks. Stay up to date on Idaho men's basketball on Twitter, and follow Idaho Athletics at govandals.com, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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Letter from the President
Sept. 14, 2018
Dear Friends,
A  college education is important for success in life. But the kind of education a person receives also matters a great deal. At the University of Idaho, we understand how students’ participation in research, scholarship and creative activity prepares them to succeed. A public, land-grant research university like ours is uniquely suited to offer those experiences, so we created the Office of Undergraduate Research. This week I connected with David Pfeiffer, professor of biological sciences and the director of our undergraduate research office, to get a firsthand look at the impact research participation has on student success. 
 
President Chuck Staben: Why is undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity so important? What do such opportunities mean for students?
David Pfeiffer: Research projects, scholarly activities and creative activities are fundamentally different from class work and the experience of doing them can engage students in wholly different ways. They demand a kind of tenacity and creativity that often isn’t fully realized in traditional classes and labs. Collectively, they are recognized as among a handful of high-impact educational practices that help foster critical thinking skills, innovation and independence in students. As such, these experiences help better prepare students for success during their degrees and beyond, regardless of their career path. Employers are not in the dark on this, and they are increasingly looking for evidence of these types of experiences on students’ resumés.
 
CS: Why did you personally want to take on the role of director? What drives you in your work?
DP: What drives me is student success, both during college and beyond. That’s what led me into a career in academia. Undergraduate research as an effective tool for helping students achieve success resonates deeply with me, stemming in part from my own research experiences as an undergraduate. That view has been reinforced continuously since then as I have watched students benefit from these experiences. U of I offers undergraduates exceptional opportunities to participate in research and scholarly activities, but I believe it has not yet reached its full potential. My desire to help make this happen and thereby increase student success is what drew me to this leadership role.
 
CS: What’s a success story you’ve seen?
DP: For me, some of the most satisfying stories involve “at-risk” students. One that stands out involved a student I first met when he was near the end of his first semester. He was floundering in his coursework and was on the verge of dropping out of college. I challenged him to try undergraduate research, which he did, and it completely turned his world around. His project ignited an inner drive and intellectual curiosity within him. He became more engaged in his coursework, moved from the back of the classroom to the front, and his grades went from Cs to solid As. Fast-forward eight years: He graduated from medical school. He is now working as a family physician, serving the community in which he grew up. To this day he credits undergraduate research as the transformative experience that helped him realize his full potential.
 
CS: What are highlights of the office’s year? What key events and activities?
DP: 2018 has been a banner year for the Office of Undergraduate Research. We funded over 70 individual undergraduate research or scholarly projects and helped send numerous students to present their work at national and international conferences. We also worked with faculty to redesign courses to include a significant research component. A highlight was the annual university-wide Undergraduate Research Symposium held in April. It is a multidisciplinary event that showcases the work of students from all colleges at U of I. The symposium continues to grow in size each year – this year’s event had over 130 student presenters.  
 
CS: What future work through the office are you looking forward to? What’s the future hold for undergraduate research at U of I?
DP: U of I already stands out from many of its peer institutions for the number of undergraduates it involves in research and scholarship. But I see great potential to engage even more students in these experiences. One approach I am particularly excited about is the use of course-based undergraduate research experiences, or CUREs. Through the use of appropriately designed CUREs, U of I could engage far greater numbers of students in this high-impact practice. Strategically placed in the curriculum, CUREs could help provide the vast majority of U of I students with a valid research experience at some point during their degree.
 
CS: I appreciate the perspective on the progress and success of undergraduate research at U of I. Thank you, David, for your leadership in an essential component of U of I’s academic excellence for undergraduates!
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

STCU Committed to Developing School Leaders Through Scholarships

For the second year in a row, the Spokane Teachers Credit Union (STCU), a local not-for-profit, is providing scholarships to three outstanding University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene students who enroll in the Educational Leadership graduate program. “As a credit union founded by teachers, STCU honors its heritage with a strong commitment to education,” said Sherry Wallis, STCU community development officer. “Sponsoring the Educational Leadership scholarships is just one of many ways in which STCU respects and supports educators and education in the communities we serve.” The Educational Leadership program prepares highly qualified professional educators to become transformational leaders. Many go on to become superintendents, principals and higher education administrators in rural communities throughout Idaho. STCU demonstrates their commitment to one of their core values, that effective leadership is the key to success within our community schools. For more information on supporting scholarships or programming at the University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene, please contact Allie Simon, 208-292-2513 or asimon@uidaho.edu.

U of I No. 17 for Safety

In August, the University of Idaho was ranked No. 17 among the “50 Safest College Towns in America” by SafeWise, an independent review site focused on safety and security. Noting that “Today students (and parents) are looking for colleges that deliver academic excellence with a side of safety,” the rankings reflect a low rate of interpersonal and property crimes per capita. The site explains that “Having the University of Idaho in town helps foster a community of creativity. The university also encourages public service and responsible citizenship, which helps keep this artistic hamlet safe.”

U of I Improves in U.S. News ‘Best Colleges’ Rankings

The University of Idaho has moved up in the annual “Best Colleges” rankings released this week by U.S. News and World Report. U of I is tied for No. 87 in the “Top Public Schools” category as listed in the 2019 rankings, up three spots from a year ago. The university moved up six spots to No. 165 among national universities overall. The magazine also singled out our business and engineering programs in its 2019 compilation. Find out more about U of I’s place on the list.

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Letter from the President
Sept. 7, 2018
Dear Friends,
A Vandal education offers many benefits, from leadership development to growth as a citizen and a thinker to membership in a deeply committed alumni family. For many students, higher education is also a way forward to a rewarding occupation. Extensive research shows that a good job underpins a highly engaged personal and professional life.
 
Building on our success delivering career opportunities for students and graduates, last spring U of I began a partnership with the Fenway Group. Fenway’s novel business model brings the benefits of another major employer to our college town setting, expanding the opportunities for relevant work experience available to students through contracts with outside companies – top-tier corporations like Southwest Airlines and CenturyLink. The organization can also effectively manage student projects with off-site employers from here in Moscow.
 
With a space in our Bruce M. Pitman Center, Fenway hires Vandal students on campus and manages their work in information technology (IT), primarily web application development. Students earn a competitive wage in a fast-paced environment addressing business-critical needs – real-world work with real-world accountability. Over 18-24 months in the program, students receive mentorship, professional development and networking opportunities. At other Fenway sites, students often go on to work for the companies on whose projects they’ve contributed.
 
The partnership is straightforward: U of I rents space to the Fenway Group and offers opportunities for connections with students, and the Fenway Group does the rest. College of Business and Economics Dean Marc Chopin initiated the program at U of I and has shepherded its evolution. The Fenway Group has already outgrown its original space as it scales up to 18 students in the program for fall 2018. Each student is gaining invaluable experience and skills that offer a leg up for life after college. “I think this program will ultimately be one of the things that helps differentiate the opportunities available at University of Idaho from those available at other schools in the region,” Chopin said.
 
Kyle Tolliver, coach and technical lead for the Fenway Group, has been with the organization for six years. He’s facilitating connections with companies and mentoring student employees. He values the chance to “see students start their adult lives” with meaningful employment and responsibilities. “Seeing someone get their job and have a good opportunity ahead of them is really the main thing” that drives him to help Vandals succeed. Kyle is a professional reference able to vouch for students as they graduate and seek employment. They’ll also have cultivated relationships with employers through their consulting – an important complement to the experience now on their resumé.
 
The current Fenway Group program is available to all students with aptitude and passion for information technology and computers, and has drawn interest from information systems and computer science students as well as students majoring in political science, engineering, English and more. Senior Tayler Makinen, from Meridian, and junior Jaidin Medina, from Moscow, are currently working together to develop a calendaring and scheduling system for Fenway. Tayler, who will graduate next May, is interested in database management and systems analysis.

“I think the Fenway Group experience is going to mean a lot of for my future,” he said. “It’s going to show that I have experience with development and with the business side of the profession.” Jaidin, a double major in mathematics and computer science, is still exploring his options. “I’m not sure exactly where my specific interests lie,” he said, “and that’s something that at first drew me to Fenway. This work is an avenue I could definitely see myself pursuing.”
 
Both students appreciate the opportunity to work on practical projects that will be put to immediate use. And they value having a supervisor who is a mentor. “You’re guaranteed someone’s there to help catch you when you stumble,” Tayler said. “You don’t have to come in knowing everything. Someone’s helping you and guiding you through the process instead of just giving you instructions and telling you to go.”
 
That captures a lot of what we do at the University of Idaho – offer a valuable experience through a caring community. I’m looking forward to seeing how students like Tayler and Jaidin continue to take advantage of the opportunity to discover their passions, build their skills, and carve out their professional futures on their way to a good life filled with pride and purpose.
 
Contact us if your organization sees value in partnering with the Fenway project and facilitating more opportunities for our hard-working students.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Jim L. Anderson: Forever a Vandal

 Although University of Idaho Athletics lost one of its most steadfast supporters last month with the passing of Jim Anderson, his legacy of commitment lives on in the Jim and Marian Anderson Vandal Athletic Scholarship Endowment. Originally established by a group of friends in 2008 to honor Anderson’s tireless support of Vandal Athletics, the scholarship fund, with a market value of more than $40,000, supports student-athletes who achieve academically and show potential for success in their chosen field. His family has generously requested memorial donations be made to the endowment in lieu of flowers and gifts. “I am thankful the Vandals were such a big part of my dad’s life,” Lorie, Jim’s daughter, said. “It brought such joy to his life.” Jim began contributing to Vandal Athletics in 1985, and for more than 30 years was a fixture at home events. In 2012 he was inducted into the Vandal Athletics Hall of Fame. For more information on supporting Vandal Athletics, contact Abby McLauchlin, 208-885-0259 or amclauchlin@uidaho.edu.

Wall Street Journal Calls Palouse the 'Tuscany of America'

The Wall Street Journal recently featured the Palouse region in an article in its Travel section. The article calls the region the “Tuscany of America,” celebrating its uniquely scenic rolling hills and agriculture, extolling the attractions of towns such as Moscow, and highlighting the role of the University of Idaho in the community. Read the article (subscription may be required).

Collecting Oral Histories to Preserve History and Enact Social Change

The year 2016 was a horrific one for the family and friends of Steven Nelson. Nelson, who was openly gay, died of cardiac arrest on April 29, 2016, after being robbed and beaten near Lake Lowell in Nampa. Compelled to action, Denise Bennett, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Media and a documentary filmmaker, is using Nelson’s death as a catalyst for social change. Bennett is working with the Center for Digital Inquiry and Learning, a partnership between the University of Idaho Library and U of I’s College of Letters, Arts and Social Studies, to collect, digitize and archive oral histories from members of the LGBTQ community across Idaho. Since 2017, Bennett has traveled across Idaho, conducting interviews with members of the LGBTQ community who are willing to speak about their experience. “We want to get a contemporary and diverse history represented,” Bennett said. “The goal is to document histories in every county of Idaho.” Read more.

Restaurant Designed by U of I Architecture Professor Featured in National Magazine

Scott Lawrence, assistant professor of architecture in the College of Art and Architecture, designed a Denver-based restaurant that was just named in Bon Appétit magazine as one of 2018's top 10 new restaurants in the country. Lawrence and his firm, Lawrence Nguyen Architecture, converted an 800-square-foot home into a full-service restaurant that, according to Bon Appétit, has an "all-day café vibe." The restaurant transforms from a coffee shop and bakery during the day to a vibrant restaurant at night, which proved a significant design challenge, Lawrence said. In addition to the design, Lawrence and his firm fabricated fixtures — custom lights and a bathroom faucet — and applied a wall finish in the restroom using phonebook pages and a neon sign.

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Letter from the President
Aug. 31, 2018
Dear Friends,
At the University of Idaho, nothing is more important than the safety and security of our students and our Vandal community. This week I connected with Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Blaine Eckles to share with Friday Letter readers some of the ways U of I fosters a caring, supportive, and safe living and learning environment. Blaine earned a doctoral degree at U of I before coming to join the Division of Student Affairs as dean of students in 2015; in 2016 he took on leadership of the division as vice provost.
 
President Chuck Staben: You’ve been dean of students for three years. What progress are you most excited about during your time here?
Dean of Students Blaine Eckles: What stands out most to me is the way the students have engaged in challenging, difficult conversations, and have taken strong leadership stances to help improve the campus experience. Our students care about what is going on in the world and look to affect change on our campus. I remember standing with students and listening to them share their voices during events to raise awareness of challenges many people of color face, or to contribute to conversations surrounding the treatment of victims of violence. Other issues of importance to them have been the move back to the Big Sky, with many students quite excited about engaging in regional competition, going to watch away games and renewing rivalries. Student leaders in the Greek community took a strong stance on safety when they self-imposed a moratorium on alcohol at social events last year, taking an inward look at what it means to create a safe community. Student voices are important and necessary to create change in our larger culture and society. It’s awesome to see the things our students are addressing.
 
CS: In terms of safety and security, what are key programs that make an impact for students?
BE: We are quite a safe campus. We recently ranked in the top 15 of campuses nationwide for safety by Alarms.org and No. 17 nationwide by Safewise. That is in large part due to great support programs and education in place to help encourage students to create a safe environment. Programs such as Think About It, an online education program, promote responsible behavior around alcohol consumption and healthy relationships and are required of students. Our Green Dot program teaches students how to be positive bystanders, especially as it relates to interpersonal and relationship violence. One great program we have is our CARE program, where anyone can file a report of concern about a student, faculty or staff member. We want to continue creating a culture on campus where if people “see something,” they “say something.” As Vandals, we look out for one another and get help if something seems amiss.
 
This fall, I look forward to co-chairing the Student Safety and Wellness Task Force where we review our safety and support programs at the university. We will perform a “gap analysis” to assess how we are doing and what more we can do to create an even safer, healthier campus for our students. Celeste Keller, a parent of a student as co-chair, will ensure we are looking at these issues from all angles, and I’m excited to see how we can serve students even better.
 
CS: What’s a common question or challenge new students have as they start their Vandal careers? How do you approach that?
BE: One of the most difficult things an incoming student faces is the realization that they are the ones in charge of their future. And as a result, they are responsible for their actions … and the consequences. I recall having a conversation with a student one day who, after some discussion, finally admitted he had not been attending classes for the prior six weeks. He was hanging out with his friends, playing a lot of video games, and in short, he was failing all his classes. It wasn’t until we talked that he finally realized he was going to have to tell his parents about this … and he wasn’t sure how to do that. After some discussion, we placed a call to his parents together and through a rather tense conversation created a plan for him (and his family) moving forward. Owning one’s decisions can be hard, but it’s a critically important life lesson and one many incoming students begin to learn at the university. One of the funnier, yet endearing, questions I have received from a student when they first arrive, is what time they are supposed to go to bed. I gently remind them that when they go to bed is up to them … we don’t do bed checks! But I also remind them the importance of a good night’s sleep and how that can help them be successful.
 
CS: What should parents know or understand as their students head to U of I? And how can they stay connected?
BE: When I talk to parents of incoming students, I remind them that it’s time for them to step back so their student can step forward into his or her own future. While this is a hard transition time for students, I would say it is equally difficult for parents. I assure parents their children will return to them, but they will be different. Their relationship will grow deeper, in more meaningful ways, and that is a beautiful thing.
 
CS: We have a positive Greek Life culture here at U of I. Why is that so important?
BE: The Greek community goes back over 100 years at U of I. Our Greek experience for students is something that distinguishes us from all other institutions in the state. Many leaders of industry and in government have come from the U of I Greek community — people committed to high ideals, giving back and helping others. I often remind our current students in the Greek community that they are standing on the shoulders of generations of men and women who have come before them, who have paved the way for them through scholarships and support as alumni. The actions of our Greek students reflects on our alumni, as well as the institution, and thus they should continue to work and act in ways that enhance the reputation of the Greek community and the university. I believe our current student leaders understand this and are working in ways that help honor the rich traditions generations of alumni have created at U of I.
 
CS: We have a saying, “big enough to matter, small enough to care.” What does that mean to you and to Student Affairs?
BE: I love that we are known as the “Vandal Family.” When I think of “family,” I think of a tight, core unit of individuals who look out for one another, in spite of our disagreements. That is what we do here at the University of Idaho. We look out for one another, even though we may not know each other. Students can make a significant impact on campus and in the lives of others through their actions … they are not “lost in the sauce.”
 
One experience I had with a student highlights this very saying: I was driving through campus one day when I came upon an ambulance outside of a living facility. A few students had been playing basketball, and one tripped and hit his head on a post. I followed the ambulance to the hospital, and in the ER waiting room I met a junior named Sam, who was waiting on the injured student. Sam shared that he’d transferred from a school in California because at U of I he could do research as an undergrad with faculty both in the laboratory and in the field. Sam wanted to go to medical school, but he realized he wouldn’t be able to at his prior institution because research was only available there for graduate students. Through his U of I connections, he was able to volunteer as an emergency medical technician, gaining great transferable skills and building his resume. I was thankful he transferred because he was playing basketball with the student who was injured and was a first responder on scene, providing assistance until the ambulance arrived. Sam stayed in that emergency room, even though he didn’t have to, until the student was released, and he helped get him home. That, to me, is what it is all about — Vandals looking out for Vandals. I was so proud to write a letter of recommendation for Sam a year later, helping to get him in to medical school, where he is studying now. “Big enough to matter, small enough to care.” Go Sam. And Go Vandals!

CS: Thank you, Blaine, for sharing your information and perspective. We appreciate your leadership!
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Jim Russell Prioritizes Student Success in College of Engineering

When Jim Russell ’56 was an engineering student at the University of Idaho, Dean Allen Janssen awarded Russell a timely scholarship. Janssen kept in touch and encouraged Jim throughout his four years as a student. “Dean Janssen showed he cared, and he has motivated me to this day,” said Russell. That motivation led to a high level of engagement during college and continued into his professional life. He spent over 30 years as Senior Vice President for Corporate Development with Science Application International Corporation (SAIC). He has since worked as an independent consultant, senior advisor and private investor, continuing to support innovative technologies. Russell was inducted into the University of Idaho Academy of Engineers in 2012 and continues to support the College of Engineering with technical and financial contributions, most recently, the Engineering Student Success Center and the Grand Challenge Scholars Program. To learn more about the Academy of Engineers or supporting students through the Engineering Student Success Center, please contact Executive Director of Engineering Advancement Bobbi Hughes at bhughes@uidaho.edu or 208-885-5303.

U of I Study Looks at Firefighter Diet and Sleep

Wildland firefighters are working long shifts this summer all across the West. And they are getting really tired. Randy Brooks knows exactly how tired. The University of Idaho professor is closely tracking 18 smoke jumpers with the help of advanced motion monitors that use an algorithmic fatigue model originally developed for the U.S. military. This is not just an academic exercise — Brooks is aiming to save lives. “Wildland firefighters need to be alert and vigilant of their surrounding situation because something could happen at any moment,” he said. […] So Brooks, who works in U of I’s College of Natural Resources, and Callie Collins, a doctoral student in environmental science, conducted a survey of more than 400 wildland firefighters. The majority indicated that the main contributors to accidents in fire operations were inadequate sleep and fatigue, both mental and physical. Read more.

IGEM Funding Supports Sustainability at Northwest Food Processing Plants

The University of Idaho will work with food processors and suppliers in the Pacific Northwest to support reductions in their energy, water and waste footprints as part of a new Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) grant awarded to U of I and its partners around the state. The Idaho Department of Commerce recently released the first $700,000 installment of the $2.1 million grant earlier this month. An additional $1.4 million in funding is anticipated over the next two years. Professor Karen Humes, an expert in hydrology and geospatial science in U of I’s College of Science, will lead efforts to pilot, demonstrate and transfer technologies that will help food processors and producers reduce water and nutrient use, as well as recycle nutrients and other valuable byproducts. U of I researchers will also use the award to provide interactive simulation models to help communities and business stakeholders better understand the interconnections and tradeoffs between energy, water, nutrients and land use.

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Letter from the President
Aug. 24, 2018
Dear Friends,
As we begin the 2018-19 academic year, our university is well-positioned to continue delivering for our students, our state and our world. We have a breadth and depth of leadership that should give us all optimism. In the Friday Letter this fall, I plan to introduce you to those Vandal leadership voices. As a united team, we will continue to make progress on our Strategic Plan goals.
 
Our first strategic goal is to “Innovate,” delivering research and scholarship that makes an impact on Idaho and beyond. In June, U of I researchers including Eva Top, Craig Miller and Holly Wichman in the College of Science and Shirley Luckhart in the colleges of Science and Agricultural and Life Sciences, secured nearly $5 million in NIH funding to study questions about antibiotics, vaccines and diseases like malaria. In July, associate professor Jason Karl in the College of Natural Resources and his team earned part of a $1.28 million USDA grant to better understand grazing patterns on large rangeland landscapes. We’ll keep building on the quality and scope of that kind of work across our $109.5 million research enterprise.
 
We’re also committed to “Transform” the lives of students through an outstanding educational experience. Already a leader in first-to-second-year retention, we want students to be supported all the way through to graduation and careers. This fall the “VandalStar” shared information platform that we’ve implemented will help us consistently coordinate our service for students, whether it’s advising, tutoring or counseling. We’re also continuing our “Vandal Ideas Project” internal award program and are asking faculty, staff and students to take on the “Transform” goal and develop projects that enhance the student experience and lead to more positive outcomes. Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives Cher Hendricks and College of Science Dean Ginger Carney are spearheading that initiative. University-wide, we’ve made progress, and I know that will continue.
 
Our “Engage” goal has a number of objectives, and key among them is bringing more students to postsecondary education. We’re going to continue fine-tuning the implementation of initiatives such as Direct Admissions and the Fast Forward dual-credit program. This fall we’re operationalizing a policy called “Deferred Admissions” – or “Durable Admissions” – that keeps the door open to more students. If you’re a student who’s been admitted to U of I, but you need to take time to complete military service or perhaps a religious mission, we’ll now defer your admission for up to four years – no need to reapply. Our philosophy is that in those deferral situations, people gain life experience and maturity. They can focus on their experiences and know they have a set plan to come back to the University of Idaho when they’re ready.
 
We also want to continue to make U of I a great place to live and work – to “Cultivate” a valued and diverse community. Our Global Student Success Program and International Programs Office continue to offer international students a pathway to a great U of I experience. We practice inclusion and diversity across our efforts. We’re also continuing to work on market-based compensation initiatives in order to recruit and retain the faculty and staff who drive U of I success.
 
Finally, two big projects demand our attention. We can and will get the Idaho Central Credit Union Arena across the finish line – this long-awaited project is absolutely critical for our student-athletes, our university and our community. We’re also continuing to develop the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) project, the outstanding research dairy that this state needs to continue to thrive in the dairy and food processing sectors that have become so important to Idaho’s economy.
 
We have had challenges going into this year. But where our university succeeds, it has always been as a united effort. With focus and determination, I know we’ll continue to deliver the excellence that so many expect from the Vandal family.
 
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Continuing to Open Doors for Future Vandals

A retired international business professor at Eastern Oregon University and former president of Oregon Coast Community College, Bob Costi ’73 helped create a Vandal volunteer recruiting team in Portland, his hometown. Nicknamed the “bridge recruiter” among friends, Costi recruits homeless students camped under bridges in the city. “If you just talk to these kids, they will listen,” he said. “I show them that U of I creates this indescribable passion to pursue an education and better your life.” Bob’s commitment to U of I also includes his estate plan, which provides for the creation of the Robert and Betsy Costi Scholarship Endowment to recruit Oregon and Washington students to U of I. “The University of Idaho still excites me as much as it did in the late 1960s,” Bob said. “I am grateful to the university for opening doors for me and am blessed to give back. Higher education is extraordinary, and no one should take it for granted.” For more information about making a gift in your will to the University of Idaho, contact Sharon Morgan at morgans@uidaho.edu or toll-free at 866-671-7041.

U of I Among Princeton Review's 384 Best Colleges

The University of Idaho is listed as one of the The Princeton Review’s “Best 384 Colleges” for 2019 as one of the nation’s outstanding colleges and universities, based on factors including the excellence of academic programs. The tutoring, test prep and college admissions services company tallied the rankings based on its surveys of 138,000 students at universities nationwide, asking questions about a school's academics, administration, student body and more. The Princeton Review said U of I “is truly a school that invests in its students. Despite its large size, the university manages to create a ‘personalized learning experience’ for all undergrads." The organization also cited U of I’s “networking opportunities” for undergraduates and “the fact that ‘the faculty here really cares about the students and genuinely wants to see them succeed.’” U of I has made The Princeton Review’s “Best Colleges” list multiple years running.

U of I Adds Organic Agriculture Center in Sandpoint

The University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences has established a new presence in Sandpoint and Bonner County with the acquisition of the Sandpoint Orchard. The 48-acre property was acquired by U of I through a donation from Dennis Pence of Sandpoint and his family. The orchard will be known as the Sandpoint Organic Agriculture Center and be the first in the U of I system to focus on organic farming and organic-certified production systems. The center will offer educational programs in organic and sustainable agriculture production. Public programs are expected to focus on biological control, pollinators, soil health, native plant landscaping, horticulture, organic food processing and marketing, food safety and nutrition. Plans call for the center to offer hands-on internships for U of I and North Idaho College students to help boost enrollment in agricultural programs and strengthen U of I’s presence in North Idaho. A celebration will take place Oct. 23 to highlight planned outreach and education opportunities at the new U of I center.

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Letter from the President
Aug. 17, 2018
Dear Friends,
Yesterday at our annual Convocation for new Vandals, we were thrilled to kick off a new year by welcoming back Vandal alumna Michelle Aragon '97. From Jerome, Idaho, Michelle was the first in her family to go to college, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communication and advertising from the School of Journalism and Mass Media (JAMM). She’s now a successful advertising executive in New York City. Michelle offered a thoughtful and inspiring message for our new members of the Tribe from the North as they set out on their journey here at U of I. Having previously met Michelle, I appreciated the chance to ask her a few questions for this week's issue of the Friday Letter. Enjoy!

President Chuck Staben: What’s it like to return to U of I as a Convocation speaker? 
Michelle Aragon '97: It’s truly a homecoming in every sense. I’m very proud and honored to return to campus and have such a wonderful opportunity to speak with students and faculty. I’m hoping Convocation will serve as a platform for students to think about how to approach their time at the university. On a personal note, it’s incredible to experience the nostalgia of being back on campus and the memories of my time here at U of I.

CS: When you came to U of I from Jerome, what did you expect?
MA: I didn’t have a whole lot of expectations. It was a different world from what I had experienced in Jerome. I was excited yet nervous about being on my own, curious about what lessons would be in store for me, and looking forward to meeting new people.

CS: What’s a quality you developed at U of I that has helped you?
MA: My sense of curiosity. Attending U of I was the first time I was exposed to many new things, not only in the educational sense but also culturally. I was able to continue doing certain things that were familiar – i.e. working on the yearbook, just on a larger scale – but also explore new possibilities to find out what I liked and what I didn’t.

CS: What was an experience you had at U of I that changed you?
MA: The AAF NSAC (American Advertising Federation National Student Advertising Competition) U of I Ad Team. It was one of the most unique, real-world experiences I had, perhaps even more than I fully understood at the time. This was the competition team that created a marketing campaign on behalf of a brand. We truly bonded as a cohort and functioned as an agency team would to develop our plan and creative work that was ultimately pitched to professional judges. This is by far the best example of what it’s like to work in a professional setting on a new business pitch.

CS: What’s life like now, in your career in New York?
MA: Extremely full. I work in an exciting and dynamic industry that satisfies my intellectual curiosity and challenges me to think about the future. I’m also able to give back in meaningful ways through my non-profit work to make an impact in my community and for others as they begin their own career paths. Last but not least, I love food and live music, so I fully enjoy everything that a vibrant city like New York offers.

CS: What’s one key piece of advice you have for students?
MA: Use this time to develop your critical thinking skills – really honing in to understand the value you can bring by having and sharing your point of view. This is what will take you in new directions and open up opportunities in ways you hadn’t thought of.

CS: Thank you, Michelle, for sharing your story with our students and with our readers. And thanks for being a proud Vandal!
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Antibiotic Resistance, Vaccines, Malaria among $5 Million in NIH-Funded Projects

University of Idaho researchers are trying to answer questions that could help slow the spread of antibiotic drug resistance, develop techniques to produce vaccines more quickly and help with treatment of malaria thanks to three federal grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The awards to Eva Top, Craig Miller and Holly Wichman in the College of Science and Shirley Luckhart in the colleges of Science and Agricultural and Life Sciences, total nearly $5 million to support multiyear studies aimed at improving disease treatment. “Each project applies creative and transformative approaches to solving major human health-related problems,” said Ginger Carney, dean of the U of I College of Science. “This grant addresses one of the world’s great health challenges, and we are glad to play a role in helping people around the globe,” said Michael Parrella, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

U of I Rangeland Research Receives $1.28 Million in USDA Grants

GPS-collared cattle will soon roam ranches in southern Idaho and northeastern Oregon in an effort to better understand grazing patterns on large rangeland landscapes. The project, called “Deploying CERT” (Climate Engine Rangeland Tool), is led by University of Idaho researchers and is one of two related projects selected to receive a total of $1.28 million in grant funding by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services’ Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) program. The second U of I-led project engages the Rangelands Partnership, a collaborative of rangeland professionals and librarians in 19 states, to improve access to rangeland management information and literature through a national grazing land information system. By pairing satellite imagery with technology to track cows and field estimates of forage, the CERT project aims to create a new management tool to assist private ranchers and public land managers.

Prichard Art Gallery Exhibit Explores Suppressed Queer Culture in Vintage Photography

Artists Garth Amundson and Pierre Gour explore how historical photos suppressed queer culture in an exhibit that began Thursday, Aug. 9, at the University of Idaho Prichard Art Gallery. In several of the exhibit’s installations, Amundson and Gour manipulate vintage photos by removing subjects’ faces or eyes. They invite viewers to project themselves into the images to consider their own gender construction. “Studio portraits and commercial images, with their cleanliness and idyllic conventions, present a likeness of ourselves as we wish to be seen, flattening away the murkiness of life,” said Roger Rowley, Prichard Art Gallery director. “Garth and Pierre use the lens of their current moment and circumstances to imagine what other ideas might be teased from these photos.” The exhibit, “Whipping It Up: A Collaborative Alchemy,” runs Aug. 9 through Oct. 6, 2018. An artist lecture, free and open to the public, is 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, in TLC 040 on U of I’s Moscow campus. An opening reception is from 5-7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 24, at the gallery.

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Letter from the President
Aug. 3, 2018
Dear Friends,
This is a special weekend. One of our own, Jerry Kramer ’58, is being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Jerry becomes the first University of Idaho graduate to earn this incredible honor. It’s an exciting moment for all of us to see a member of our Tribe from the North finally get to wear the exclusive gold jacket that comes with Hall of Fame membership.
 
The pride of Sandpoint High, Jerry joined the Vandals in 1954. He played offense and defense on his way to All-America status and a Senior Bowl selection. A member of Sigma Nu fraternity, he even found time to set a school record in the shot put. Jerry’s No. 64 is retired at U of I, and he’s a charter member of our own hall of fame.
 
Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1958, Jerry earned five All-Pro selections while winning five NFL championships and two Super Bowl titles in the 1960s. He was a part of a legendary Packers team under coach Vince Lombardi and threw a block that cinched the 1967 NFL Championship for his team. He describes this season in detail in his acclaimed book, “Instant Replay,” which thrilled me as a Packers fan growing up in the Midwest, and that holds up as worthy reading for sports fans everywhere.
 
We’re going to come together to support Jerry’s induction this Saturday with watch parties in Moscow, Spokane, Coeur d'Alene, Nampa, Meridian and Colorado. He will also be the guest of honor at the annual Inland Empire Vandal Celebration on Thursday, Aug. 23. We’re also hoping to host Jerry at a fall football game and are finalizing those plans.
 
Throughout his college and pro career, and following his playing days, Jerry has exemplified sportsmanship, hard work and humility. His accomplishments set a standard of excellence for Vandals everywhere, and we are proud to see his excellence enshrined for all time on Saturday. Congratulations, Jerry, and ….
 
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Jerry wore No. 74 during his sophomore season. His No. 64 from later seasons is retired at U of I.
Jerry was a standout on offense and defense for the Vandals.

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Letter from the President
July 13, 2018
Dear Friends,
Under the bright sun of summer, University of Idaho students and faculty are busy working on the education, research and service that are the hallmarks of our Vandal excellence. I want to interrupt the Friday Letter’s usual summer hiatus to make sure you know what our Vandal family is achieving inside and outside of the classroom.
  • U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue visited U of I on July 2, joined by Gov. Butch Otter, Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Idaho Secretary of Agriculture Director Celia Gould. President Staben, Vice President for Research Janet Nelson, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Dean Michael Parrella, and College of Natural Resources interim Dean Dennis Becker, among others, showed visiting officials some of the exciting innovation and expertise at Idaho’s land-grant research university. The group toured campus and gathered at the Revely Classroom Building for insight into U of I partnership on projects such as the ICCU Arena and the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment.
  • U of I researchers are trying to answer questions that could help slow the spread of antibiotic drug resistance, develop techniques to produce vaccines more quickly and help with treatment of malaria thanks to three federal grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The awards to Eva Top, Craig Miller and Holly Wichman in the College of Science and Shirley Luckhart in the colleges of Science and Agricultural and Life Sciences, total nearly $5 million to support multiyear studies aimed at improving disease treatment.
  • In June, U of I celebrated the naming of the “Rinker Rock Creek Ranch” in honor of Harry Rinker and the Rinker family, whose support will allow the university to purchase the 10,400-acre property, currently owned in partnership with the Wood River Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy. The University of Idaho Foundation was on hand to help U of I celebrate. The Rinker Rock Creek Ranch is a unique research, education and outreach facility, offering a living laboratory for hands-on understanding of rangeland resource management, conservation and recreation. Research at the ranch has already begun, and a series of public educational and engagement activities are taking place throughout the summer.
  • Some members of the Vandal family are taking on new, key leadership roles. Dennis Becker, professor and Policy Analysis Group director, is interim dean of the College of Natural Resources. Ben Hunter, associate dean, took the helm July 1 as interim dean for University Libraries. Sean Quinlan, history department chair, began May 29 as interim dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. Each interim dean brings a depth and breadth of experience to the position: Becker earned a doctorate at U of I in 2002 and returned in 2015; Hunter has been with U of I since 2006; and Quinlan has been a Vandal since 2001. The university will soon name an interim dean for the College of Law, as Mark Adams steps away to return to scholarship and teaching.
  • University of Idaho faculty continue to produce compelling research that offers new knowledge and points to solutions for critical areas. College of Natural Resources Assistant Professor Tara Hudiburg was awarded $750,000 by the Department of Energy to study biofuel sustainability, part of a $104 million project. A recent paper in the journal “Fire” co-authored by Associate Professor John Abatzoglou examines the role of climate change and human behavior in wildfires. In the journal Geosphere, U of I geology Professor Jerry Fairley and a team of examine the amount of heat escaping from Yellowstone National Park hot springs.
  • U of I is one of only 12 institutions nationwide receiving the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation’s Beckman Scholars Program Award to support outstanding undergraduate researchers in biology and biological engineering. Two U of I students, Alexandra Flores and LeeAnn Hold, have earned Beckman awards and begun work on the 15-month program. Alexandra, a biochemistry major mentored by associate professor Peter Fuerst, is studying the brains of mice to look for gene patterns with connections to neurological disorders, particularly autism. LeeAnn, a biological engineering major mentored by Associate Professor Nathan Schiele, is creating tendon from stem cells to help those with tendon injuries and mobility challenges.
  • The Chobani Foundation will provide $160,000 for scholarships to the University of Idaho to help educate the next generation of dairy professionals. The Chobani Scholars program will focus on students from Idaho’s Magic Valley surrounding Twin Falls, where the Chobani company operates the world’s largest yogurt plant. The foundation’s goal is to support students, including children of migrant workers, who have family ties to the dairy industry and plan to pursue their own dairy careers. The donation will fund eight $20,000 scholarships split between students who begin college in 2019 and 2020.
We have a lot to be proud of – and we’ll have a lot of forward momentum for August.
 
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Secretary Sonny Perdue Visits U of I

July 2, 2018

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