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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. To subscribe, contact Executive Communications Manager Brian Keenan at bkeenan@uidaho.edu.

The Friday Letter

Letter from the President
May 4, 2018
Dear Friends,
The calendar has turned to May, the leaves are greening up across our state, and many Vandals are ready to don their cap and gowns for graduation. In fact, statewide, nearly 1,500 graduates will cross the stage on their way to a great future. As a comprehensive university with more than 12,000 students, we have no shortage of creative, confident Vandals. A few stories exemplify the excellence you’ll find at our great public research university.
 
The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship is a highly competitive award for students moving on to advanced studies. This year, senior J. Tyrell Styhl is one of only 2,000 students nationwide to land one of these prestigious fellowships. Tyrell is from Idaho Falls and is receiving his Bachelor of Arts this spring in ecology and conservation biology with minors in wildlife resources and in statistics. With the chance to continue his education at any graduate school, he plans to study sage grouse right here in Idaho, under the mentorship of U of I professors.
 
The David L. Boren Scholarship and Fellowships, sponsored as part of a federal initiative, offers the opportunity to build language and international skills in countries critical to national security and stability. Ian Hahn, a senior journalism major from Portland, has earned a Boren Scholarship to study Swahili in Arush, Tanzania. Ian is a confident and well-prepared young man who will represent U of I well abroad and in this program.
 
The University of Idaho is also proud to congratulate four recipients of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, a competitive award supporting international experience. This spring Jamie Waters, a junior marketing major from Caldwell, studied in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Terrun Zolman, a senior political science major from Riggins, headed to Australia. Storm Jansson, a senior studying sociology and Spanish, also received a scholarship. And Alexandria Campbell, a junior civil engineering major from Pocatello, has earned a scholarship that will send her to Spain this summer. I look forward to all our overseas students returning to U of I to contribute their enhanced perspectives and global understandings.
 
Attracting great students to U of I and ensuring their success is made possible with the help of private giving – so often the critical margin of excellence at U of I. I want to thank all last week’s Vandal Giving Day donors. Together we raised $483,207 from 1,359 gifts for programs that make a difference for students. From raising scholarship funds for student-athletes, to enhancing a summer program for students in McCall, to building the next generation of engineering excellence, we came together to meet challenges and matches. I was thrilled to be a part of it among so many generous Vandals.
 
Students from all walks of life find chances to learn and thrive at U of I, and I’m proud of how they seize those opportunities and pay it forward to others. Great individual efforts are nurtured by a community and become part of a Vandal family success story. Congratulations again to all our hard-working members of the Tribe from the North.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Alumna’s Lifetime of Giving Back

Joyce Munson '42, one of Margaret Ritchie’s first students, has dedicated her life to keeping people healthy. Beginning her career as a military dietician, Joyce worked in VA hospitals across the nation for over 30 years, and after retirement, involving herself in programs like Meals on Wheels. Joyce has been a generous and loyal U of I donor for over 43 years, and since 2010 has donated over $200,000 to support the renovation and enhancement of the Carmelita Spencer Foods and Nutrition Lab. This teaching lab, in the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, provides students and instructors with access to updated technology and kitchen equipment. “I enjoyed my time at the University of Idaho and received a fine education, so I choose to give back to support future students pursuing the same career,” said Munson. “Updated labs allow our students to work with top of the line equipment, enhancing their educational experience,” said Michael Parrella, CALS dean. “We are so grateful for donors like Joyce who commit to a lifetime of giving back.” For more information on supporting CALS programming, contact Jen Root at 208-885-4087 or jroot@uidaho.edu.

Celebrating 1,478 U of I Graduates

A total of 1,478 University of Idaho students statewide are eligible for graduation this spring, earning a combined 1,564 degrees. U of I students have applied for 1,155 bachelor’s degrees, 93 law degrees, 35 doctoral degrees, nine specialist degrees and 274 master’s degrees. Some students will have earned multiple degrees. This year's commencement brings the university's all-time total to 117,335 graduates and 125,567 degrees. In Moscow, 1,306 students are eligible for 1,357 degrees. Moscow graduates have applied for 1,090 bachelor’s degrees, 50 law degrees, 31 doctoral degrees, two specialist degrees and 184 master’s degrees. Program details for attendees can be found here; guests unable to visit Moscow may watch the ceremony online at www.uidaho.edu/news/ui-live.

Statewide Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients

This year’s Moscow Commencement keynote speaker is Tom Mueller, propulsion chief technology officer at SpaceX. Mueller received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from U of I in 1985. As one of SpaceX’s founding members, he is responsible for building and managing the company’s propulsion development group, which develops propulsion systems and engines for the Falcon launch vehicles and the Dragon spacecraft. During the ceremony, Mueller will also receive an Honorary Doctor of Engineering from the university. Other honorees at this year’s ceremony include: Shawn Swanby, president and CEO of Ednetics, who will receive an Honorary Doctor of Education; and Peter Griffiths, U of I professor emeritus in chemistry, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science.

The U of I Boise commencement speaker is Boise Mayor David Bieter, a 1987 U of I College of Law graduate serving his fourth term as Boise mayor. U of I Coeur d’Alene’s commencement speaker is Norm Gissel, a retired Coeur d’Alene-area attorney, U of I graduate and U.S. Air Force veteran recognized for fighting for justice and civil rights. The U of I Idaho Falls commencement speaker is Roger Ball, a U of I alumnus, entrepreneur and innovator. Complete information about all University of Idaho commencement ceremonies, including information for visitors, is available at www.uidaho.edu/commencement. 

The Friday Letter

Letter from the President
April 27, 2018
Dear Friends,
At the University of Idaho, our great strength is our people – faculty and staff members alike. They are teachers and mentors, helping students navigate complex topics and modeling curiosity and critical thinking. They are scholars, conducting research that makes a difference for Idaho and that often connects to the classroom and student experience. They are our highly motivated professionals and leaders within the university and in the community. Understanding the University of Idaho’s success starts with recognizing our faculty and staff members.
 
At our University Awards for Excellence celebration this week, three U of I faculty members earned the university’s highest faculty honor, the designation of University Distinguished Professor. An international expert in water law, Professor Barbara Cosens has published widely, mentored countless students, and helped create signature U of I programs such as the Water Resources Program and the Waters of the West initiative. With more than 20 years at U of I, Professor Ron Hardy is one of the world’s leading figures in aquaculture. And Professor Rupert Machleidt, a prolific and highly cited figure in nuclear physics who has advanced the leading theory in his advanced field – called the “Idaho Potential” among fellow theorists – is  deeply engaged teacher. In these three honorees, you have outstanding examples of Vandal faculty excellence.
 
Committed and caring staff support the excellence of the university across our endeavors. Among many deserving honorees, I’d highlight the two “Outstanding Team” award winners. Our Coordinated Community Response Team, drawn from staff at the university and members of the community, helps proactively engage and resolve potential problems related to safety on campus. Our Idaho EPSCoR office team supports our research mission by providing support for programs that do things like understanding watersheds and addressing ecological questions in our state’s lakes. We couldn’t be the innovative, connected community we need to be without our staff.
 
Three other examples of U of I excellence bear special mention. Both Lynn Baird, dean of the Library, and Kurt Pregitzer, dean of the College of Natural Resources, are retiring this year after long, distinguished careers. Over 44 years at U of I, Baird has driven our state’s largest Library to new levels of excellence, building capacity, transforming the library’s physical spaces, and leading innovative ideas such as digital scholarship. Pregitzer, dean since 2010 at one of the nation’s best values in natural resources education, has strengthened the college’s academic programs, built partnerships with industries, and enhanced its research impact. Vice Provost for Faculty Jeanne Stevenson, with U of I since 1985, has been a passionate steward of faculty development and student success, leading initiatives such as the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and the Leadership Academy. I’m deeply grateful to each for their service to U of I.
 
If you’re a student choosing a college, or a parent assessing options, or an alumni staying connected to your alma mater, I hope you’ll share my pride in our people. The honorees I’ve mentioned stand out, but the commitment to excellence is broadly shared at U of I.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

It All Started at U of I

Gene Luntey ’43 chemical engineering, and his wife, Beverly Weber Luntey ’45, journalism, experienced understandable culture shock when they moved to Brooklyn, New York, population 2.5 million, in 1947. A long way from Buhl, Idaho, population 2,500, where he was born and raised, Gene had accepted a position as a junior engineer at the Brooklyn Union Gas Company in New York City, never dreaming that he would one day command the huge company as president and chairman. Beverly was personal secretary to Mrs. William S. Paley and wrote for the Spokane, Washington, newspaper about life in New York. They raised one son. “I could not have had a better career or personal life, and it all started at the University of Idaho,” Gene said.  In 2018, Gene honored Beverly and the U of I by making a gift in his will for the College of Engineering and the School of Journalism and Mass Media.  For more information about making a gift in your will to the University of Idaho, contact Sharon Morgan, morgans@uidaho.edu or toll-free at 866-671-7041. Read more about Gene’s incredible life story.

U of I Students Stand Out in Business Competitions

University of Idaho student teams from the College of Business and Economics won first place in all three categories of the annual Northwest Entrepreneur Competition on April 17 in Spokane. Blue Collar Virtual Reality builds workforce training simulators, and team members Misty Blyleven, James Duram, Catherine Keenan and Christian Sandberg took home $10,000 and first place in the Open division. Team PickItUP, made up of Chase and Hayden Pratt, have made an app that connects users to drivers with trucks to move items; PickItUp won $10,000 in the Technology division. In the Traditional Business division, the $10,000 first-place prize went to The Donut Bar, in which members Dakota Decory and Jett Jones pitch a unique eatery space for students and community members. Idaho Entrepreneurs have already won more than $75,000 in competitions this spring heading into this weekend’s Idaho Pitch and Business Plan competitions. That includes the multidisciplinary team behind the Forever Shower, who traveled to Boston on April 6 and came home with $15,000 in prize money.

U of I Study Helps Understand Idaho Family Forest Ownership

About 1.7 million acres of forest land in Idaho is family-owned, representing about 36,000 landowners and 56 percent of all privately-owned forest land in the state. As much as 560,000 acres, or 33 percent of family owned forests in Idaho, are likely to have new owners within five years, according to a new survey released today. The Policy Analysis Group (PAG) in the University of Idaho’s College of Natural Resources conducted an extensive survey in 2016 of Idaho’s family forest landowners — forests privately owned by families, individuals, trusts, estates and family partnerships. “The objective of the study was to better understand Idaho family forest owners’ management decisions and preferences, and to compare the management activities of landowners who participated in forestry assistance programs with those who haven’t,” PAG principal researcher Philip Cook said. The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), which provides planning, technical and educational assistance to landowners through its Forest Stewardship Program, contributed primary funding to the study.

The Friday Letter

Letter from the President
April 20, 2018
Dear Friends,
At the University of Idaho, hundreds of students come from all over the country to compete in one of our 16 Division I sports. They grow as team members, competitors and campus leaders while gaining an outstanding education from one of the best values anywhere for a research university education. Throughout our recent challenges with the budget of our athletics department, the quality and quantity of the opportunities we’re able to support for student-athletes has always been a top priority.
 
This week the Idaho State Board of Education approved another waiver of the board policy that caps how much institutional funding can be directed to athletics. As with last year when we received a one-year waiver, the department faces an approximately $1 million deficit, or over-expenditure of general funds as capped by board policy. The board’s waiver provides greatly appreciated flexibility as we engage in forthcoming discussion about our approach to athletics budgeting.  
 
One stark option presented to the State Board to balance the books, as required by current policy, meant eliminating three non-required Big Sky Conference sports: women’s swimming and diving, women’s soccer, and men’s golf. Many of you may know my appreciation for each sport – my sons were NCAA swimmers, for instance, and I’ve strongly supported Vandal soccer, pushing to make our Kibbie Kick-off women’s soccer game vs. BSU a marquee event last fall. Furthermore, eliminating golf at a school with the Northwest’s only PGA Golf Management Program makes little sense.  
 
Thanks to this waiver, immediate sport elimination is off the table as we collaborate with the State Board on a way forward.
 
As we approach that discussion, we are interested in considering the impact our strong Athletics programs have on enrollment, and the department's contributions to the overall bottom line. It is important to understand that while the Athletics Department exceeds the board’s general education funding limit, the University of Idaho overall actually generates positive revenue from athletics. Here’s how: Student-athletes choose their university based on their ability to participate in a sport here, even if they’re not receiving a full scholarship – eloquently explained by Vandal swimming graduate Amanda Watson. Revenue from tuition and fees and other services is a net gain for the institution, even while the department experiences deficits. The opportunities for students and the contribution to our campus culture are also invaluable. Now, as with any other unit, we don’t want to run a deficit, and, as I have said, we believe there are appropriate limits on athletics expenditures. We are going to advocate for responsible fiscal management in our department while also taking a more holistic view of overall revenue and expenses.
 
As the policy discussion evolves, the flexibility may emerge to add sports like rifle, men’s swimming and women’s triathlon – sports with low operating costs and overall revenue potential. We also need to capitalize on enthusiasm for all our programs with robust fundraising and ticket sales, among other revenue sources. We are in control of our destiny, but we need to continue to take action.
 
Hearing from Vandals on the issue, I’m struck by the passion we share for taking on this challenge. A strong athletics program is a part of who we are as Vandals. Next Tuesday we have an opportunity to invest in projects across the university during Vandal Giving Day. We will be offering challenges to donors on a number of projects, including our ICCU Arena project and the Vandal Scholarship Fund. Mary Beth and I are supporting a match challenge with a personal contribution. Excited about the Arena? Want to support the future for student-athletes at this university? Please consider what you can give.
 
We have the opportunity to build a special athletics program at the University of Idaho and perhaps change the way that athletics, particularly what are traditionally called non-revenue sports, are viewed. Balancing the books will be an ongoing challenge. While we assess how we can go forward in the future, I hope you will stay connected to and passionate about your Vandal sports teams.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Engineering Outreach Supports 25 Years of Engineering Expo

For over 40 years, Engineering Outreach at the University of Idaho has been a pioneer in developing and delivering quality distance education. From mailing instructional videotapes to students in the 1970s to currently streaming over 70 online courses each semester, Engineering Outreach evolves to provide educational experiences to regional, national and global learners. Engineering Outreach-delivered engineering master’s degrees are nationally ranked for affordability and commitment to flexibility to working professionals everywhere. Currently, Engineering Outreach and its academic partners are providing this same level of commitment to deliver online undergraduate education. With its history of commitment to educational accessibility and innovation, Engineering Outreach is once again a presenting sponsor of the College of Engineering's signature Engineering Design EXPO event. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Design EXPO is Idaho's longest running showcase for engineering student talent. To learn more about Engineering Outreach and the Design EXPO, please contact Senior Director of Development Bobbi Hughes at bhughes@uidaho.edu or 208-885-5303.

Three Faculty Members Honored as University Distinguished Professors

The University of Idaho is recognizing three of its most distinguished faculty members for contributions to their fields with the designation of University Distinguished Professor. College of Law Professor Barbara Cosens, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Professor Ronald Hardy and College of Science Professor Ruprecht Machleidt will receive the honorary designation during the University Awards for Excellence banquet on Wednesday, April 25. The rank of University Distinguished Professor is the highest honor bestowed by the university on a faculty member. Honorees bring national and international recognition to U of I through their scholarly activity. Since the award was first designated in 2011, 19 faculty members have received the honor.

Here We Have Idaho Magazine Now Available

The spring issue of Here We Have Idaho is now available. Explore the stories and learn more about how the University of Idaho is continuing its century of dedication to natural resources in Idaho at uidaho.edu/magazine. Did you miss your copy? Update your mailing address at uidaho.edu/alumni/update, or subscribe to our digital magazine here.

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Letter from the President
April 13, 2018
Dear Friends,
Technology that cleans water like our natural soil can. Molecular genetics that unlock the key to thriving wildlife. Scholarship that puzzles out how we understand data and communicate in an information-rich world. It has been a busy year for some of the University of Idaho’s outstanding faculty scholars. They’re at the center of how our state’s comprehensive research enterprise engages students, drives the production of knowledge and applies insight to creating a better world. Over another rewarding academic year, we have a lot of accomplishments to celebrate.
 
Greg Moller, Dan Strawn and Martin Baker are part of a research team competing as a semifinalist in the $10 million George Barley Water Prize competition, sponsored by the Everglades Foundation. The challenge asks teams to develop technology that reduces pollution linked to toxic algae blooms. The U of I technology mimics the soil’s natural ability to remove contaminants from polluted water, using natural elements like air, rust, sand, charcoal and electricity. It’s an example of the exciting technology that helped Moller, an environmental chemist and toxicologist in the School of Food Sciences who holds six patents, earn induction into the National Academy of Inventors last week. An upcoming segment on NBC Nightly News features Moller’s interview with correspondent Anne Thompson and the U of I Clean Water Machine.
 
Lisette Waits, distinguished professor and head of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences in our College of Natural Resources, also earned accolades recently. She was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Waits’ research on conservation genetics and molecular ecology has taken her around the world. She has developed noninvasive monitoring systems that track populations of unique species such as the pygmy rabbit in the Columbia Basin. Waits also won the Jean’ne M. Schreeve NSF EPSCoR Research Excellence Award last fall. She is a strong example of internationally respected expertise in our research and teaching ranks.
 
The university boasts distinction in the humanities and social sciences, too, of course. Three years ago I was proud to welcome to Moscow nearly 1,000 members of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment. Professor Scott Slovic, in our English department, co-founded the society and served as its first president. He has edited its journal for more than 20 years in a career dedicated to environmental writing and interdisciplinary scholarship, with dozens of books and hundreds of scholarly articles. He’s a dedicated teacher who has taught writing in the Semester in the Wild program since its inception. For that success and more, he’s earned an Excellence Award in Research and Creative Activity from U of I this year.
 
These are just a few examples of the research and scholarship you’ll find at U of I, and it’s a shame I don’t have the space to list many more. Across the spectrum of discovery and innovation at out our state’s higher education research leader, you’ll find faculty members who every day are driven by curiosity and determination, not to earn acclaim, but to make a difference for Idaho and for students. That’s the University of Idaho research success, and it keeps growing.
 
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Joining Forces to Support Student-athletes

The Vandal Scholarship Fund (VSF) National Board, past presidents of the VSF National Board, and former U of I student-athletes have joined forces to individually donate more than $20,000 for matching funds during the (mark your calendars!) quickly approaching Vandal Giving Day 2018. Because of this generosity, the first $20,000 in gifts to the VSF will be matched, doubling the impact on student support. Longtime Vandal fans, Mike ’90, the VSF National Board Vice President, and his wife Denise ’91 Mai proudly “support University of Idaho student-athletes both in the classroom and on the field” with their contribution to the VSF match. As a former varsity track and field letter winner, Denise understands the difference that scholarships can make to all students, especially student athletes. To get involved or learn more about Vandal Giving Day 2018, contact Eric Billings at 208-885-5369 or ebillings@uidaho.edu.

New Special Collection Features Extensive Sci-Fi Materials

In September 1979, science fiction and fantasy fans descended on Moscow for the first MosCon, a local science fiction and fantasy convention. They discussed the future of their fandom, learned about the anticipated “home computer revolution,” and gazed upon new pictures of Jupiter. And they brought costumes. A pile of programs from the first MosCon resides in one of the 326 boxes of science fiction and fantasy materials that was bequeathed to the University of Idaho Library’s Special Collections and Archives by U of I alumna Victoria E. Mitchell in the spring of 2017. An exploration of the boxes unearthed not only thousands of books, costumes, manuscripts and collectables, but also the history of science fiction and fantasy fandom across the Northwest. After a whirlwind six months of cleaning and sorting the collection in U of I’s Integrated Research and Innovation Center (IRIC), archivists moved the Mitchell collection, as it is currently being called, to a locked cage under the U of I Library. The collection shares the basement with U of I’s other special collections, which chronicle the culture, politics, industry and daily life of the university and the Northwest United States. Read more.

Micron Global Etiquette Dinner a Success

Sponsored by Micron Technologies and organized by U of I Career Services, the Micron Global Etiquette Dinner on April 4 offered more than 200 students the opportunity to learn, practice and apply important networking skills while making an impression on future employers.

The Friday Letter

Letter from the President
April 6, 2018
Dear Friends,
I don’t often start my letters talking about dog excrement. In fact, I don’t think the topic has come up at all. But there is a first time for everything, thanks to one of our outstanding undergraduates.
 
A junior and electrical engineering major with an interest in renewable energy, on a hot summer day last year, Kenny Sheffler filled a plastic bottle with his brother’s dog’s waste. This wasn’t some wild idea – he’d learned about anaerobic digestion in a lab seminar as part of a renewable energy course. He’d also seen organic matter put to use for energy during a study abroad semester in Fiji. In his backyard, with the help of his canine companion, Kenny produced naturally occurring biogas and fertilizer – “the beginning of a clean energy system.”
 
The application of dog waste is probably unique, but the ingenuity and invention is something all Vandals cultivate during their U of I careers. We’re celebrating student-focused research and scholarship this April during our annual “Innovation Month.” The array of activities all put high-impact learning front and center. High-impact learning practices include undergraduate participation in research, capstone courses and projects, internships, service learning, and global experiences. Students who engage in high-impact learning stay in school and graduate at higher rates. They gain skills, confidence and experience they can take to life and work after college.
 
Innovation Month at U of I is a university-wide endeavor. Hosted by the Idaho Entrepreneurs Program in the College of Business and Economics, students in the Idaho Pitch and Business Plan Competition contests sell their ideas in the hunt for startup capital – real-world experience in commercializing an innovative idea. In the College of Science and IBEST Student Data Science Competition, students explore data science research with contests centered on machine learning, data visualization and storytelling. In the “Three-Minute Thesis” event, the College of Graduate Studies asks students to present their complex research projects briefly and compellingly – no easy task.
 
A signature university event occurs on April 27, with our annual Engineering EXPO. This is the longest-running initiative of its kind in the Northwest and a real source of pride. This year more than 250 U of I engineering students display more than 50 engineering capstone projects – research projects that culminate our undergraduate engineering experience. Nearly two dozen Grand Challenge and DeVlieg Scholars will present their work. In addition, more than 500 K-12 students will join us from around the region – the future of Vandal Engineering.
 
We’ll close out Innovation Month with our annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. This multi-disciplinary showcase of research and scholarly work has taken off since its inception in 2016. Our Office of Undergraduate Research coordinates the event and has grown it from 48 student posters in that first year to more than 130 last year. Now partnering with the U of I Honors Program, we’ll have even more student research to celebrate on April 30. I always look forward to seeing what these students are accomplishing.
 
Ultimately, Innovation Month is more than a collection of different events and activities. The student experiences showcased this April highlight how a Vandal education is special. Undergraduate and graduate research and scholarship of this caliber is something you’ll only find at a leading, national university. That’s something to take pride in, and to consider as you stay connected to the University of Idaho, or as you meet with fellow Vandals … or even as you walk your dog.
 
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Corporate Sponsors Give Students the Gift of Jazz

The University of Idaho College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) celebrated the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival this February, marking 51 years of groundbreaking jazz on the Palouse and welcoming more than 4,100 visiting students from 145 schools in Canada, Idaho, Washington, California, Alaska, Montana and Oregon for educational workshops and competitions. From adjudicated student performances and artist workshops to performance clinics and evening performances, generous contributions from sponsors directly supported an incredible, authentic jazz experience for students at the festival; premier sponsors of the 51st annual jazz festival included the Best Western Plus University Inn, PotlatchDeltic Corporation, Gritman Medical Center and Avista. “The jazz festival is a unique venue that is full of energy for students to learn, perform and be inspired by peers and world-class artists alike,” said Kristine Meyer, executive director of the Avista Foundation. For more information on how you can support the 2019 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, please contact Chloe Rambo at crambo@uidaho.edu or 208-885-7060.

U of I Hosts Palouse's Largest Gaming Event

More than 800 people are expected to fill the Idaho Commons on Saturday, April 7, for the fifth year of the University of Idaho’s Vandal Overnight Games, the largest community gaming event on the Palouse. Hosted by U of I Information Technology Services (ITS), Vandal Overnight Games is free and open to all students and the general public. Pre-registration is encouraged but not required. Prizes, including a $1,000 scholarship, are available. Games run from 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday, April 7, in the Idaho Commons, covering over 100,000 square feet divided into 25 gaming areas. New this spring is an eSport virtual gaming competition between U of I’s student team and Boise State University, starting at 7:15 p.m. Event details and the list of Vandal Overnight Games tournaments and activities are available at www.uidaho.edu/vog. Participants may register on Eventbrite.
 

Aquaculture Aims to Make Inland Marine Fish Farming a Reality

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the world consumed 125 million metric tons of fish in 2011. Roughly 62 million metric tons of these fish originated from aquaculture. By 2030, aquaculture must double to meet expected demand due to population growth and rising incomes. At the University of Idaho’s Aquaculture Research Institute, a unique new facility is nearing completion in Moscow — one that can help support the growing demand for fish-based protein, build Idaho’s aquaculture industry and help make saltwater fish production a reality hundreds of miles inland. “The level at which we’re harvesting wild-caught fish is not sustainable,” said Scott Williams, research facility manager for U of I’s Aquaculture Research Institute. “It’s peaked, and it isn’t going to grow further. As the human population increases, demand for seafood can only be met by producing more fish through farming. The future of aquaculture growth is growing marine organisms, like salmon, inland in terrestrial environments.” Read more.

Letter from the President
March 30, 2018
Dear Friends,
The University of Idaho has recently been scrutinized for our handling of incidents in 2013. At that time, students made reports to our Athletics department that were not handled according to university policy. While the situations were resolved through the university’s investigative processes, our initial missteps added to a difficult experience for the students involved. Looking at what we’ve done since then, I want to explain how we foster a safe living and learning environment for all students, and how we plan to continue that progress.

Coming to U of I in 2014, I wanted a comprehensive approach to safety. I insisted upon mandatory employee training for Title IX issues such as harassment. In addition, all first-year undergraduates in Moscow were (and are) required to complete orientation that examines relationships, substance abuse and violence. The “Green Dot” program and “I Got Your Back” campaign offer bystander intervention training and encourage people to speak up, get involved and look out for one another. Last year the Women's Center was awarded a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice for a multi-year Campus Violence Prevention Project. These programs provide valuable resources in a multi-layered culture of prevention and action.

In other progress, our Counseling and Testing Center has been enhanced with substance use expertise. Our student organizations are playing a role – last fall student leadership in our Greek system self-imposed an alcohol moratorium, establishing certain conduct standards, and, having met them, several chapters have since been able to lift the moratorium. I congratulate that self-directed control and accountability. I am participating in a working group for the NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to address harmful and underage student drinking.
 
Universities are multifaceted places, and safety is a complex issue, so we have to approach it university-wide.
 
When news breaks about U of I, you may get the sense that the university is not sharing a lot of information. Higher education law tightly constrains how we can communicate about incidents involving students. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects student records as confidential and, as such, significantly limits the information we can share about our students with the public, the media and sometimes even other students involved in an investigation. We strive to be as transparent as we can while complying with the law. Respecting student confidentiality is part of respecting our students.
 
I understand that bureaucratic explanations for why we can’t answer direct questions about incidents involving our students often feel inadequate. I’ve sent two sons and a daughter to college. As a parent or a student, you don’t want a lesson in the intricacies of federal or institutional policy. You want to know that the school is safe. You want to know that students are protected from harm, and that if something does happen they will be heard and respected, with straightforward processes for a solution.
 
We work every day at U of I to meet expectations of safety and student welfare. To keep improving, I am putting together a task force co-chaired by Dean of Students Blaine Eckles to focus on mental health, student concerns for campus safety, and our approaches to interpersonal violence. We will draw from inside and outside our U of I community to gain perspective, study practices and policies, and make recommendations. I look forward to seeing where and how we can improve.
 
At U of I, we often say we are “big enough to matter, and small enough to care.” To live up to that ethos demands constant, sustained improvement and responsiveness. We are committed to providing our students the best possible learning and living environment.
 
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Longtime Vandals Give to ICCU Arena Project

Dick and Barbara Bull can usually be found in their seats behind the basket at the Cowan Spectrum for both the men’s and women’s games. Since their arrival in Moscow, when Dick took a position in the Animal and Veterinary Science Department, they have been dedicated Vandal sports fans. The Bulls have been active for decades in the Latah County Vandal Boosters and the President’s Athletic Advisory Council, among other volunteer roles. Dick even ran the scoreboard at Vandal basketball games for 34 years. When the university moved ahead with the Arena project, Dick and Barbara decided to support it. “We could see all the opportunities such a facility could bring to the university and to the Moscow community,” Barbara said. “We wanted to be a part of it.  We can’t wait to find our new seats behind the basket, near the Vandal bench.” Visit the ICCU Arena website to learn more about giving opportunities, or contact Mike Perry at mperry@uidaho.edu or 208-885-1029.

Vandals Win National Awards for Theater

Hanah Toyoda, a Master of Fine Arts candidate in the Department of Theatre Arts, was joined by an ensemble of University of Idaho theater students and alumni in earning national recognition from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). Toyoda of Hayward, California, earned the Barbizon National Award for Excellence in Scenic Design for her research and creative activity on “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.” In addition, the show “Sleepy, A Musical,” created by students in U of I’s College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, earned the National Outstanding Production of a Devised or Company-Generated Work (shared with Hope College). The “Sleepy” ensemble includes U of I students Maiya Carrol, Whitney Holland, Gail Harder, Paige Erbele, Gina Workman and Dan Cassilagio, and recent U of I graduates Dan Poppen, Tyler Iiams, Hunter Price and Sean Hendrickson. The ensemble performed “Sleepy” to an enthusiastic full house at the KCACTF Region 7 conference in Spokane, Washington, in February. “Sleepy, A Musical” also earned several other national KCACTF honors including: Distinguished Performance and Production Ensemble, Distinguished Production of a New Work, Distinguished Production of a Musical, Distinguished Performance by an Actor in a Musical (Dan Poppen), Distinguished Director of a Musical (Maiya Corral), and Distinguished Director of a New Work (Maiya Corral).

Research Provides Insight into Tectonic Plate Formation

A new study by University of Idaho researchers provides insight into Earth’s early tectonic activity and could be a stepping stone to help researchers better understand not only tectonic plates, but also earthquakes, volcanoes and mineral deposits that arise as the plates move and form. The way oceanic tectonic plates separate, either by snapping or stretching apart, controls the shape of mid-ocean ridges, the underwater location where plates drift apart, according to a the study, which was published in the journal Nature Geoscience. U of I Assistant Professor Eric Mittelstaedt in the College of Science’s Department of Geological Sciences, and Aurore Sibrant, a postdoctoral researcher at the European Institute for Marine Studies in Brest, France, who worked on this study as a post-doctoral researcher at U of I, were able to simulate the creation of mid-ocean ridges in the laboratory. Their study, which included scientists with Laboratoire FAST in Paris, France, is titled “Accretion Mode of Oceanic Ridges Governed by Axial Mechanical Strength.”
 

The Friday Letter

Letter from the President
March 23, 2018
Dear Friends,
The University of Idaho is our state’s leader when it comes to education beyond a bachelor’s degree. Our first master’s degrees were created more than 100 years ago, in 1912. We’ve grown into the most robust and developed source for graduate and professional education, providing opportunities that shape the future for students, excelling at research and scholarship, and engaging with our communities – the three major components of a land-grant mission.
 
Today U of I offers a comprehensive portfolio of post-baccalaureate education, including 88 master’s degrees, 32 doctoral degrees, specialist degrees in education, a Juris Doctor in law, and access to a top-rated medical degree. At least five master’s programs are interdisciplinary efforts between three colleges. More than 600 graduate faculty members participate in teaching and in our $109 million research enterprise. To offer just a few quick examples, noteworthy programs include biology, creative writing, nuclear engineering and natural resources. If you’re interested in exploring cutting-edge disciplines past a bachelor’s degree, the University of Idaho has been and remains the best choice.
 
We also lead the state in physician training, through the Idaho WWAMI program. Since 1972, U of I has partnered with the highly regarded University of Washington School of Medicine. In an exciting new initiative, the Idaho WWAMI program’s Project ECHO creates a telehealth education program for healthcare providers, focusing especially on opioid addiction and treatment in rural and underserved communities. Project ECHO’s learning and guided practice model helps connect expert teams with community providers through virtual clinics. In this way, primary care doctors, nurses and other clinicians learn to provide excellent specialty care to patients in their own communities, improving healthcare, and reducing costs. This project can make a real impact on a longstanding need in our communities.
 
This week I was also excited to see our College of Law recognized by U.S. News and World Report’s Best Law Schools list. With locations in Moscow and in Boise, the college excels in offering an affordable, practical education for people interested in the many careers – the practice of law one among them – for which a law degree is great preparation. The U of I College of Law is also serving our communities, partnering last fall with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to open a patent and trademark resource center in Boise. It adds to the many clinics that the College of Law offers, in everything from small business support, to legal aid, to mediation, to economic development.
 
Whether in law or medicine or other critical fields, U of I strives to be the first choice for advanced education, a hub for research and a critical resource for our communities. That tradition of excellence is a foundation for a great future in advanced education.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Roy Bowman ’63 Pays It Forward for Education

When Roy Bowman ’63 graduated from high school, he didn’t think he was college material, and he knew he definitely didn’t have the money for a university education. So Bowman went to work in a lumber camp. Hard-working, organized and responsible, he quickly stood out. Chief Forester Gordon Greenway (forest products, ’38) saw Bowman’s potential and encouraged him to attend the University of Idaho. “He helped me realize my dream of going to college, and I want to help others know they can do it, too,” said Bowman, who graduated with a bachelor’s in elementary education. He decided to pay it forward with a gift annuity with the University of Idaho Foundation and a gift in his will to endow a scholarship for teacher education students. Bowman’s scholarship is part of an initiative in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences to significantly reduce future educators’ student debt. For more information on giving to the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, contact Marta McClintock at 208-310-0973 or martam@uidaho.edu.

Dean’s TEDx Talk Passes 1 Million Views

The College of Education, Health and Human Sciences has made a long-term commitment to breakthrough innovation in teaching, learning, training, research and clinical work. In 2010, Dean Ali Carr-Chellman gave a TEDx talk on innovative ways to engage disengaged learners, particularly boys. Her approach includes using video games to generate interest in academic subjects and change classroom culture. This talk recently surpassed 1 million views, showing the level of interest in EHHS’ nation-leading commitment to innovation. The talk also highlights the impact of the TEDx forum. U of I sponsors the upcoming TedxBoise event. The university is also proud to host the student-organized TEDxUIdaho annual forum

U of I Students Seek the Core of an Icon

Originally published in the Lewiston Tribune: Since the construction of the College of Natural Resources at the University of Idaho, a towering whitebark pine snag has been prominently displayed within the educational facility, but little is known about what the tree weathered before it found sanctuary inside the building. A group of undergraduate students is attempting to pin down exactly what the tree endured while alive, and in which era it died. Recently, the students took several core samples they bored from the tree. They'll analyze the samples and compare them to historical data. "The project is to look at the history of the snag and what led to its unfortunate demise," said Mark Kimsey, research assistant professor in the Department of Forestry, Rangeland and Fire Sciences. "We'll also track the climate periods to growth. The tree has been here since the 1970s. The building was built around the snag." The snag was discovered on top of Freezeout Ridge east of Clarkia. It was later moved to its current location, and the college was constructed around the tree as a centerpiece. Read more.

The Friday Letter

Letter from the President
March 16, 2018
Dear Friends,
Explore the country just beyond Moscow, and you’ll see how the “amber waves of grain” so often sung about could have taken inspiration from the rolling hills of the Palouse. Idaho is wheat country, a critical industry for this great state, and the Idaho Wheat Commission has been working with the University of Idaho for many years to make sure our state’s wheat fields flourish.
 
Yesterday, we celebrated a new milestone in our partnership with Idaho wheat growers and the Commission, a $2 million gift to create an Endowed Chair of Risk Management. In a first for U of I, the chair will enhance collaboration between the College of Business and Economics and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. An endowed chair is a high honor for any faculty member, and a tribute to the organization creating the position. This position will help U of I recruit a leader who can support research, teaching and experiential learning in risk management. The chair also will be a resource to wheat growers seeking to have more advanced marketing tools.
 
What you don’t see when you look out over our beautiful fields is the sophisticated financial picture behind agricultural production. The University of Idaho, though, has a highly regarded curriculum between our Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology (AERS) and the Barker Capital Management and Trading Program. Since 2013, the collaboration within those units has led to opportunities for students to engage in commodities trading and the management of commodities margins. This is high-tech, hands-on experience for undergraduates to manage real, significant funds as part of their college experience. The endowed chair will greatly enhance an already valuable program that leads to rewarding careers.
 
Another important component of the position will see our endowed chair researching the agricultural commodity and financial security markets at a global, national and regional scale. Areas of importance include price forecasting, policy and economic analysis, and managing financial practices and strategies in the commodity supply chain. There are opportunities for outreach with regional stakeholders who can benefit from the chair’s expertise. We’re excited about Vandal country taking on that kind of leadership for this critical sector.
 
We’re extremely grateful for Idaho wheat grower investment, through their check-off dollars with the commission, in the student experience and the research and outreach missions of the University of Idaho. The Idaho wheat industry has been a valued partner for many years at U of I, supporting endowed professorships in wheat breeding and agronomy, and contributing now over $11 million toward many initiatives at the university, including important research topics such as wheat breeding, agronomy and genetics. Earlier this year we reached a research agreement with the commission that will serve as a model for similar agreements with other commodity groups to facilitate research critical to industry. 
 
We’ll have more details in the coming weeks while the search for our new faculty star takes shape. As the fields green up and grow this spring, we'll work to make sure this new opportunity for student success and agricultural research leadership also grows and thrives.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Mark Warner Named President of Archaeology Organization

Mark Warner, associate dean for graduate studies and professor of anthropology in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, was named president of the Society for Historical Archaeology in January 2018. SHA is an educational, not-for-profit organization that advocates for the study and protection of historical and underwater cultural resources. Warner has been a member of SHA for nearly 30 years. Prior to assuming the leadership of SHA, he served the organization in a variety of capacities, including committee member, committee chair, board of director member and annual conference co-organizer.

New York Times National Security Reporter to Speak at U of I

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times national security reporter Adam Goldman will deliver the annual Oppenheimer Ethics Symposium keynote talk “Reporting on the President, Spies and Why the Truth Matters,” on March 29 in Moscow. In addition to his Moscow talk, Goldman will speak to the City Club of Boise on March 28. (See event details and registration.) The recipient of several journalism awards, including the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, Goldman covers the FBI and national security issues and has contributed extensively to the Times’ reporting on the FBI investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump administration. The annual Oppenheimer Ethics Symposium is held by the School of Journalism and Mass Media in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences and is underwritten by a gift from alumni Douglas F. Oppenheimer, president of Boise-based Oppenheimer Companies, and Arthur F. “Skip” Oppenheimer, chairman of the board. Previous symposia have brought nationally known journalists, journalism educators and ethics experts to Idaho.

McClure Center and College of Law Pair for Policy Pub

The University of Idaho’s James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research and the College of Law have partnered to sponsor a discussion on policy and the law in Boise. The March edition of the university’s Policy Pub series will feature a panel of judges from Idaho’s courts from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, 2018, at Pengilly’s, 513 W. Main St., Boise. Speakers include Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger S. Burdick, Idaho Supreme Court Justice Robyn Brody and 4th District Judge Nancy Baskin of Boise. McClure Center Director Katherine Himes will moderate the discussion. Each panelist will describe their background in Idaho law, talk about why they pursued a career in the judiciary, and discuss the biggest challenges facing the Idaho legal community. Their remarks will be followed by a Q&A session. An April panel in Moscow focuses on the Idaho Local Government Initiative and will take place at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time Thursday, April 12, at Hunga Dunga in Moscow.

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Letter from the President
March 9, 2018
Dear Friends,
This week the Vandals converged on Reno, Nevada, for the Big Sky Conference basketball tournaments. I had a chance to join Vandal fans in the “Biggest Little City in the World” this week and see the action in person. Win or lose, our teams exhibit the toughness and resilience that represents the University of Idaho so well. We can all be proud of their effort on the court.
 
However, something you don’t see from the bleachers in Reno or on television is the work our Vandals put in on the student side of the student-athlete equation. The life of a college athlete involves a lot of hours in the gym, in meetings and with other team commitments. But the young men and women in our Athletics programs are balancing those responsibilities with a focus on academics and on contributing to the culture of the University of Idaho. We have a lot to be proud of off the court, and our basketball programs provide notable examples.
 
You may know that many on our men’s team are seniors. Among this veteran group, three students – Perrion Callandret, Jordan Scott and Chad Sherwood – have already graduated; Jordan and Chad are currently pursuing master’s degrees, and Perrion is taking on a second bachelor’s degree. Chad has actually helped create an Athletic Leadership Certificate for undergraduates, extra effort that pays it forward for future Vandals to earn a credential that reflects and enhances their experiences as student leaders.
 
The Vandal women are no less accomplished. On a team with a fall 2017 average GPA of 3.71, 10 Vandals had GPAs of 3.0 or higher and five women achieved a perfect 4.0. The Vandals’ team Graduation Success Rate is 94 – seven points higher than the national average. One senior, Nejra Solo, is already pursuing a graduate degree in plant sciences after earning a bachelor’s degree with a 4.0 in molecular biology. And in February, thanks to a perfect 4.0 GPA, junior Mikayla Ferenz was voted First Team CoSIDA Academic All-District, qualifying for the Academic All-America Team ballot. Ferenz has also twice been a Big Sky All-Academic honoree.
 
I congratulate our student-athletes for their commitment to success as students and as campus leaders. Our coaching staff and Athletics department have set high expectations for academic success, too. Importantly, donors help provide opportunities for students when they contribute to the Vandal Scholarship Fund.
 
Next year, Vandals will get a chance to see our student-athletes in our home state of Idaho, as the Big Sky basketball tournament moves to Boise. I’m looking forward to cheering them on in their roles as athletes – and as students.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Reids Help Turn Student-led Initiative into Reality

The J.A. Albertson Building, home of the College of Business and Economics (CBE), is undergoing an exciting basement renovation. In 2016, students in CBE and the Interior Design program created a strategic plan to transform the underutilized CBE basement space into an innovative and welcoming space designed to enhance the CBE learning experience. When Jim and Tedde Reid first learned about the collaborative, multi-discipline and student-led design concept for the Albertson basement, they were impressed. Not only did the students have a clear vision and strong plan, they possessed a contagious passion to move the initiative forward and provide a solution for an identified student need. “We were excited to support a student-initiated project like this and help turn their vision and design into a reality,” said the Reids. Their excitement resulted in a contribution that established the Garth Reid Conference Room, named in honor of Jim’s late brother and CBE Alumni. For more information about giving to CBE and/or the “basement project,” contact Brian Mitchell at bdmitchell@uidaho.edu or 208-885-2634.

Raven Scholars Program Helps Students Find Their Way

From the Spokane Spokesman-Review, Feb. 18, 2018: Aidan Neelon’s grades rose from straight C’s to A’s and B’s last semester when the University of Idaho sophomore found the place he belonged on campus. Neelon, who grew up in Moscow, said he made the academic leap by joining the Raven Scholars, a university transition program for students on the autism spectrum. Since the program’s inception in 2011, the retention rate among students who participate has been higher than the university’s undergraduate retention average. “Getting into a career and building a life I can be happy and comfortable with, and being able to successfully manage my life as my own, is a lot more possible,” Neelon said. “It’s nice to find somewhere you belong, because if you find it once, you can find it again.” Read more.

Coeur d'Alene Education Building Moving Ahead

From the Coeur d'Alene Press, March 3, 2018: A public education building project in Coeur d’Alene that has been discussed for almost a decade could break ground this spring, with completion a year away. Bids on the estimated $8.2 million project located inside the higher education campus of the education corridor — the former DeArmond Mill site along the Spokane River adjacent to North Idaho College — will be received this month for the 30,000-square-foot facility funded in part by Idaho’s public universities and colleges. Called the North Idaho Collaborative Education (NICE) facility, the two-story structure is expected to house University of Idaho, Lewis-Clark State College, Idaho State and Boise State university classrooms. It’s also supposed to create one-stop student services — admissions, financial aid and advising. Read more.
 
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The Friday Letter

Letter from the President
March 2, 2018
Dear Friends,
Today is a special anniversary, though likely unknown to many. On this day in 1887, the Hatch Act — named for Rep. William Henry Hatch of Missouri — was enacted into law. This somewhat unheralded piece of legislation provided the federal funding mechanism for the agricultural experiment station system at land-grant universities, including the University of Idaho. The Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station — the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences' research umbrella — is the outgrowth of that act here in Idaho. If you’ve driven by our farm fields, seen our booming food industries or met a U of I graduate with a great career connected to agriculture in some way, you’ve seen why March 2 is a noteworthy day for this university, Idaho and the nation.
 
I’m in Washington, D.C., this week to share that story of deeply rooted success with industry leaders, alumni and members of our state’s congressional delegation. We may have started with an emphasis in agriculture, but over 129 years our $109 million research enterprise has grown and flourished in many areas. Traditional areas of excellence include fire science, rangeland management and water resources, among others. Emerging fields like computer science and partnerships with leaders like the Idaho National Laboratory put U of I on the cutting edge of critical issues and societal challenges such as cybersecurity and clean energy.
 
One project that highlights our leadership progress and potential is the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment. A sustainable source of protein is absolutely critical to health and prosperity not just in Idaho but across the world — few things could me more central to life. With what will be the nation’s largest research dairy, U of I will be the leader in delivering the research and teaching expertise that helps meets that essential need. We’ll also contribute to an Idaho economy where livestock is 61 percent of agricultural cash receipts, where we are fourth nationally in milk production, and where food processing has been a boon to southern Idaho, especially in the Magic Valley. William Hatch would be proud of this project!
 
He’d also be proud of the connection between research and education. Research is not in a silo at U of I — students both benefit and contribute. In fact, most Vandal undergraduates participate in research and scholarship, high-impact experiences that promote persistence toward a degree and prepare students for success after graduation. I’ve reminded people this week that 90 percent of Vandal graduates have a job or plans for future study as they complete their degrees, and after they’ve been in the workforce, they lead graduates of all other Idaho institutions in career earnings – financial stability that underpins contributions to families and communities.
 
One notable example of graduate success I’ve been pointing to is College of Engineering graduate Tom Mueller. If you’ve heard of SpaceX, and seen their progress in launching rockets to explore space, you’ve seen Tom’s work in action. As a kid in St. Marie’s, Idaho, he wanted to fix airplanes. His teacher asked him, “Why not design the airplanes?” The University of Idaho, just down the road, had an engineering program that helped launch his career. Today he's the chief technology officer of propulsion and one of the founding employees of a game-changing company whose next stop is Mars. I’m proud to announce here that Tom will join as U of I our commencement keynote speaker this May. What a great example for our graduates and others.

How many more young Tom Muellers are out there, looking for a chance to do something they might never have expected? That’s the land-grant mission — provide opportunities for the people of our great state, deliver research helps us grow and prosper, and foster a vital connection to our communities.
 
I’m glad I got to tell that story this week. Now, home to Idaho.
 
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Daughter Honors Father with MFA Scholarship Endowment             

Last year, Julia Ames began raising money for the Leo Edwin Ames Arts Scholarship Endowment in honor of her father and long-time creative director of university publications, Leo Ames ’65. This important endowment marks the first scholarship available for Master of Fine Arts students in U of I's art program. In addition to raising over $9,000 toward the scholarship endowment so far, Julia has named her father’s scholarship as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. If you would like to learn more about the Leo Edwin Ames Arts Scholarship Endowment or giving to UI, contact Eric Billings, director of Annual Giving, at 208-885-5369 or ebillings@uidaho.edu.

Fighting Poverty, ONE Step at a Time

This article was written by Taylor Nadauld and published in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. Read the original article here.

University of Idaho Martin Institute Director Bill Smith has been with the university for 17 years, but his student Abby Rowe is the first he has seen to triple-major in international studies, crop management and Spanish. Rowe, 19, comes from a rural farming town in southeast Idaho. Were she to keep with tradition, she would continue a fifth-generation legacy of family farmers. Someday, Rowe said, she may go that route, but right now, she's focusing her knowledge and skills on an international cause: fighting poverty in Africa. This Saturday, Rowe will travel to the 2018 ONE Power Summit in Washington, D.C., representing the ONE Campaign, an international, nonpartisan organization that fights poverty in countries around the world and focuses particularly on poverty in Africa. Co-founded by U2 lead singer Bono, the campaign solicits students from around the world to participate in advocacy efforts for countries in poverty. When its members contacted Smith about a year ago, he knew Rowe should be the one to establish the UI's own chapter. Read more.

Turning Trash to Treasure

Last summer, Kenny Sheffler filled a water bottle with excrement from his brother’s dog and left the contraption in the sun. Within a day, the bottle had inflated and the waste had decomposed — turning into biogas and fertilizer. “It was really disgusting,” said Sheffler, a junior at the University of Idaho. But the gross combo was the beginning stages of a clean energy system, aided by anaerobic digestion, which can produce fuel suitable for cooking and even heating homes. An electrical engineering major in the College of Engineering, Sheffler was inspired to build his own backyard digester after studying at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva, Fiji, during the 2017 spring semester. Nearly everyone living in the island’s rural communities has a similar, albeit more advanced, set up, Sheffler said. The reasons are twofold: the 7,056 square-mile country has little space for landfills; also, the citizens of the island nation experience the impacts of climate change on a daily basis. It’s why the country aspires to become 100 percent reliant on clean energy by 2030, and it’s what attracted Sheffler to study abroad at USP in the first place. A Potlatch native, Sheffler has aspirations of working for a renewable energies firm on global projects — especially in developing nations vulnerable to the carbon footprint of larger countries like the U.S. and China. Read more.
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Letter from the President
February 23, 2018
Dear Friends,
This year we ring in our 51st annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. I’m proud to join our university community and music lovers alike in embarking on the next half-century of excellence. We have many reasons to be confident in the future of this signature University of Idaho event, starting with leadership.
 
Looking back at the roots of the Jazz Festival, I’ve been reflecting on the privilege I’ve had to get to know Lynn “Doc” Skinner. He served as a leader of the festival for 35 years – 29 years as executive director – before his retirement in 2006. Skinner helped take the festival from a one-night, one-guest-artist show to a multi-night event with a premier lineup and participation from hundreds of schools. Lionel Hampton himself got involved in the festival under Skinner’s tenure — as did John Clayton, who continued the premier festival tradition after Doc’s retirement. Education and outreach were greatly expanded; the Jazz in the Schools program, which has reached thousands of area elementary students with what is often their first introduction to professional musicianship, started in 1995 under Skinner’s watch.
 
In 2002, Doc Skinner was awarded the University of Idaho’s President’s Medallion, recognizing his contributions to the university.
 
Doc’s example of leadership lives on in his son, Marc, a U of I graduate. Marc is now the executive officer of our Idaho Falls center, serving southeastern Idaho with innovative education and research programs. As a Vandal family, we’re lucky the apple has not fallen too far from the tree in the case of the Skinners.
 
Today, a new generation of leaders is ensuring that our signature event provides a unique stage for musical performance and a teaching and learning laboratory for students of many ages. This year associate professor of music and saxophonist Vanessa Sielert helps steer the festival in her new role as director of the Lionel Hampton School of Music. Her excellence in her discipline, her service to U of I and her recent guidance at the festival gives us all great confidence in the direction of the festival, as well as the direction of the School of Music.
 
Last year, the University of Idaho signed on to the American Council on Education’s “Moving the Needle” initiative to spur gender diversity in the ranks of university leadership. Sielert has been involved in that effort and in building a statewide collaboration among Idaho higher education institutions to advance such goals. I’m glad that as a university we’ve had her time and commitment in the effort to make leadership more representative and inclusive.
 
Sielert has been a part of our efforts to refocus the festival, continuing to showcase leaders in the jazz world while emphasizing the one-of-a-kind educational experience for K-12 and university students. Over two days, the festival takes place entirely on campus, with main-stage performances all at the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center. A competitive track for K-12 students who wish to test themselves in that environment is now in its second year.

Overall, we’re anticipating an increase in school participation to more than 4,000 students from 141 schools. The array of workshops, seminars and mentoring opportunities continues to be dynamic. In addition to the Jazz in the Schools outreach — led by our own faculty sextet, the Palouse Jazz Project — the Lionel Hampton School of Music offered a free bonus day to festival participants. Approximately 400 students were on campus yesterday for non-jazz-related workshops. The day was concluded with Hamp’s Gala, a concert showcasing U of I student ensembles. This concert is a return to the days when Hampton would host his “Hamp’s Gala” the evening before the festival started to show off all of the ensembles at his school to the guest artists.
 
I know I join many Vandals and other Jazz Festival fans in appreciation for how the festival continues to shape lives. The lessons our visiting students receive go beyond music – they inform new perspectives, invite collaboration and respect for others, and offer a proving ground for personal growth. Our visiting students get a firsthand look at the U of I, too. That’s all in addition to seeing a great festival lineup.
 
Building on our special history, and invigorated by a strong hand at the Jazz Festival helm today, future generations of leadership will have an opportunity to learn and thrive at Jazz Fest.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Idaho State Bar Endowment Supports College of Law Tax Students

The Idaho State Bar Taxation, Probate and Trust Law Section recently established an endowment that will provide an annual award for tax students at the University of Idaho College of Law. The mission of the section is to provide continuing education, training and networking opportunities and professional development for Idaho lawyers who practice in the areas of federal, state and location taxation, probate and trust law. The intent of the newly created annual award is to recognize and award students achieving high academic success, and to encourage students to volunteer with the Idaho State Bar and participate in section membership, volunteerism and leadership as they embark upon the practice of law in Idaho. If you would like to learn more about giving to the College of Law, contact Michele Bartlett at 208-364-4044 or bartlett@uidaho.edu.

U of I-Designed Scarves, Bandanas Help with Invasive Weed Identification

Education and apparel design have joined forces at the University of Idaho to give the public smart new ways to identify invasive and noxious plant life. And look really good doing it. University of Idaho Extension educator Melissa Hamilton worked with Lori Wahl, an apparel, textiles and design instructor in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences to create a set of bandanas and scarves with patterns reflecting invasive weeds in Valley County. Read more.

Design-Build Program Connects Architecture Students with Real Clients

When students think about being an architect, they often think of working in an office with computers, designing skyscrapers, said Randall Teal, associate professor and program head for architecture in the College of Art and Architecture. But architecture is more than that, and U of I’s Design-Build Program is hoping to change that assumption for students and the community. “Design-build opens up a new way of thinking about doing architecture. There’s the possibility to do design with my hands, somewhere between being a builder and an architect,” Teal said. “There’s something very concrete in the connection with the community when people see what architecture can do for a group and a community.” Read more.

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The Friday Letter

Letter from the President
February 16, 2018
Dear Friends,
Happy Chinese New Year from the University of Idaho! On this special occasion, our university has a lot to celebrate. In recent years, U of I has forged a deep and multifaceted relationship with the world’s most populous country and second-leading economy.
 
Last December, I represented U of I at the Confucius Institute World Conference in Xi’an, China, and shared the story of our university’s highly successful institute. Under the leadership of Director Hexian Xue, the institute has a significant statewide instructional and cultural presence. For instance, language classes are available to students through our College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. Our growing group of 11 Chinese instructors is fanned out across Idaho, offering language classes at Boise High School, Post Falls High School, Lake City High School in Coeur d’Alene, and all levels in Moscow schools. What a great chance for many young people to jump-start their understanding of a language spoken by more than a billion people and a culture that dates back millennia.
 
This institute also offers a number of programs for community members in Coeur d’Alene, Boise and Moscow interested in Chinese language and culture. That reach is important for Idahoans who want to better understand and maybe even do business with a country that has a major presence in our state. China is, after all, Idaho’s fourth-leading international trading partner; the Idaho Department of Commerce notes that our state shipped more than $20 million worth of Idaho goods to China in 2016. It’s fitting for Idaho’s major research university, where economic development is a key focus, to be a leader in this important international connection.
 
One aspect of our Confucius Institute particularly intrigued conference participants: table tennis. You may recall that “ping-pong diplomacy” helped thaw relations between China and the United States in the 1970s. At U of I, our new table tennis program has caught on among students and community members. Teacher Caden Xue, a top-ranked player from China, is the instructor for multiple classes. He’s joined the Vandal Table Tennis Club to build a strong culture around the sport at U of I. In fact, Xue and Patrick Hrdlicka, chemistry associate professor, recently won the doubles table tennis championship at the Stiga Portland Open!
 
Sports help bring people together and see each other as human beings, not outsiders. With that understanding, they can build rewarding and beneficial relationships.
 
I encourage those interested in engaging with China to check out what our Confucius Institute has to offer. U of I students have earned Confucius Institute scholarships to study at the South China University of Technology (interestingly, their former president, Huanbin Liu, is a University of Idaho graduate). In 2015, 20 secondary students participated in a two-week China summer camp sponsored by the institutes; in 2017 another 20 students visited Beijing, Zhengzhou and Guangzhou. Last summer six jazz faculty with our Lionel Hampton School of Music went to China through the institute's China studies program. They met with students and gave well-received performances. Another 11 educational administrators and teachers from across Idaho visited China in spring 2016 under the Confucius China Studies Program.
 
Tonight, we’ll reflect on that success and honor the new year doing something that all countries and cultures love: celebrating with food. For those like me who tend to take full advantage of such occasions – maybe some exercise in the days ahead with a little table tennis?
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Christine M. Moffitt Endowment Creates Meaningful Connections

An inspirational student mentor and champion of diversity programs and initiatives, University of Idaho fisheries research Professor Emerita Christine Moffitt continues her legacy of forging meaningful connections between students, communities and natural resources through the Christine M. Moffitt Scholarship Endowment in the College of Natural Resources (CNR). This $100,000 scholarship is designed to recognize and provide support to students from Native American and Hispanic communities who display leadership qualities and academic promise. A creative collaboration between CNR and the Office of Equity and Diversity enables this scholarship to be used at a grass-roots student-recruitment level to reach populations most in need. “Natural resources are everyone’s legacy and life support," Christine said. "We need to engage the voices and energy from all communities to address the future challenges of our planet.” We thank Christine for her continued vision and support of the university. For more information about this endowment or other opportunities to support CNR, contact Jennifer Farnum at 208-885-5145 or jfarnum@uidaho.edu.

Researchers Study Critical Unburned Area Left by Growing Wildfires

While increased fire activity has threatened Pacific Northwest forests, University of Idaho researchers have found a silver lining: the proportion of unburned areas critical for post-fire recovery has remained unchanged. Arjan Meddens and Crystal Kolden, faculty in the College of Natural Resources, led a team that analyzed nearly 2,300 fires in the Inland Northwest over a 30-year period, from 1984-2014. They examined trends in the formation of unburned islands of vegetation during wildfires in a new study published in the journal Ecosphere earlier this week. 

Exercise Science Alumnus Sam Michener Competes with Team USA in Olympics

Heavy. That is how Sam Michener ‘12, described the moment he found out he would be competing in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. “We had our meeting with the selection committee and all the bobsled athletes were in the room,” he said. “A lot of people don’t make the team; it was a quiet room. It was pretty intense, I don’t think I breathed very much during that meeting.” The Gresham, Oregon, native is the brakeman for one of three sleds that qualified for the U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team.

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The Friday Letter

Letter from the President
February 9, 2018
Dear Friends,
Even more acutely than other growing Western states, Idaho suffers from a critical need for physicians. Our rural communities and rapidly expanding urban areas alike can benefit from a deeper pool of well-qualified physicians. The Idaho WWAMI program, our state’s partnership with the top-ranked University of Washington School of Medicine, is Idaho’s outstanding public medical school, and its continued success is key to enhancing health and well-being across our great state.
 
Through the Idaho WWAMI program, women and men from Idaho attend a premier medical school – the top school in the nation for primary care, rural medicine and family medicine, according to U.S. News and World Report. A revamped curriculum means WWAMI students now spend most of their time here in Idaho, with access to Seattle and clinical rotations available in other states. Thanks to the state’s investment, which helps keep this education affordable for students, in recent years we’ve expanded entering class sizes from 20 to 40 students per year. That represents twice as many Idaho students getting a top-quality medical education, right here in Idaho.
 
These aspiring physicians form lasting connections in Idaho communities – with 50 percent staying or returning to practice in Idaho. This is a program that pays off for aspiring doctors, for our communities and for our state at large. One economic impact assessment suggested that for every $1 of state support, $5 returns to Idaho. I know our ambitious students and the communities they go on to call home see the value of that investment firsthand.
 
Residency is an important part of training physicians. The more time students spend in Idaho, the better our chances of retaining them as practicing physicians. Last year I served on the State Board’s Medical Education Committee, which helped develop a plan for enhanced residency (Graduate Medical Education) programs, a plan that has attracted the support of Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter. This week at an Idaho WWAMI event I had a chance to join others in honoring Dr. Richard McLandress, a physician with Kootenai Health and the new director of the Family Medicine Coeur d’Alene Residency Program. With 44 years of experience, he’s a great asset to our resident trainees. I appreciate his work and the work of other residency mentors, and I know our up-and-coming doctors feel the same way.
 
While increasing our residency opportunities is important, we also need to invest in our facilities. Kootenai Health, along with organizations like St. Luke’s and St. Alphonsus, have supported the crucial facilities projects here in Moscow – a laboratory at the new Gritman Medical Center building downtown and a renovated Idaho WWAMI facility on campus. That’s exciting progress for our program and for the University of Idaho.
 
We are excited about other program progress, too. The national opioid crisis is devastating, and unfortunately Idaho is no exception – opioids are the second-most abused illicit drug in Idaho. Project ECHO Idaho, a new Idaho WWAMI venture, uses virtual clinics to link experts with rural healthcare providers to address opioid addition and treatment. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is a partner in this effort to get patients the right care at the right time, and help curb this damaging epidemic.
 
ECHO Idaho is one example of the Idaho WWAMI program innovation that leverages our unmatched expertise and resources, combined with our sense of mission for the state. I am proud to see the progress Idaho’s public medical school has made, and look forward to the impact it will make in the future.
 
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Wellner Endowment Supports Expert Presentations in Statistics and Probability

Jon ’68 and Vera Wellner of Seattle recently made a $25,000 gift to fund the Jon A. Wellner Lecture Endowment in the Department of Mathematics. The lecture series will feature presentations on research in statistics and probability by outside experts. Dr. Wellner earned a B.S. in mathematics at Idaho and Ph.D. in statistics at the University of Washington. He is currently a professor of statistics and biostatistics at Washington. “Opportunities to interact with leading statisticians from outside the university are incredibly valuable for both students and faculty,” said College of Science Dean Ginger Carney. “We are grateful to the Wellners for helping to provide those types of experiences.” For more information about giving to the College of Science, please contact Eric Bennett at ebennett@uidaho.edu or 208-885-9106.

U of I Research Helping Mountain Communities Respond to Environmental Challenges

Outbreaks of bark beetles, a common pest of conifers in the American West, are rising due to long-term climate change. As this and other natural events affect mountain landscapes, nearby communities must understand, adapt and respond to minimize the impacts on their societies and economies. This is one common denominator behind five articles written by University of Idaho researchers and their colleagues for a special issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, an academic journal of the Ecological Society of America. The special issue, titled “Social-Ecological Systems in Mountain Landscapes,” highlights the use of social-ecological systems (SES) science, a field that uses anthropology, ecology, economics, hydrology and geography to explain the balance between communities, their economies and the ecosystems around them. The research was funded through the Mountain Social Ecological Observatory Network (MtnSEON), a five-year research program led by College of Art and Architecture researcher Lilian Alessa and Jim Gosz of the College of Natural Resources. Both work in U of I’s Center for Resilient Communities.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author to Visit U of I

Colson Whitehead, winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for his novel “The Underground Railroad,” will give the keynote address Monday, Feb. 12, as part of the University of Idaho’s Black History Month observance. Whitehead’s talk, “Revisiting the Underground Railroad,” will begin at 7 p.m. Feb. 12 in the International Ballroom of the Bruce M. Pitman Center, 709 Deakin Ave., Moscow. A question-and-answer session and book signing will follow. The event is free. “We are thrilled that Mr. Whitehead will illuminate themes of his remarkable book for our students, faculty and community members,” said Kenton Bird, a faculty member in the U of I School of Journalism and Mass Media who is helping to organize the author’s visit. The talk is supported by the Idaho Humanities Council and several university offices and academic departments.

American Language and Culture Program Receives 10-Year Re-Accreditation

Upon the 25th year as an intensive English program at the University of Idaho, the American Language and Culture Program (ALCP) received a prestigious 10-year re-accreditation through the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA). CEA is a nationally recognized accrediting agency by the U.S. Secretary of Education for English language programs and institutions.
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The Friday Letter

Letter from the President
February 2, 2018
Dear Friends,
The University of Idaho has always been a draw for students from across the country. The combination of academic and research excellence, a unique residential campus, and affordability regularly brings us students from nearly all 50 states and beyond. But we have an opportunity to help more new students discover Idaho, and to create an even more diverse and dynamic U of I. With those goals in mind, we’ve expanded the Western Undergraduate Exchange program to 16 states and territories.
 
The University of Idaho has a great story among universities in the West. Combining academic excellence, a $109 million research enterprise, and exceptional career outcomes for graduates, our peers include land-grant and other major research universities throughout the region. I want more students to experience our excellence and prestige and know that it’s affordable for themselves and their families.
 
Beginning in fall 2018, newly admitted students who meet certain academic criteria will be awarded the WUE tuition and fee rate – 1.5 times the in-state rate. This award offers a savings of $12,500 per year, per student over out-of-state rates. Like most of our institutional scholarships, it is renewable for four years, allowing students and families to budget for their investment in a world-class educational experience. While we’re trying to make this as straightforward as possible, I hope you’ll visit this site to learn more details.
 
We moved away from our WUE program several years ago, the right decision at the time for our budget priorities. But I’ve heard the feedback about the WUE program, and after a limited expansion in the last two years to Washington, Alaska and Oregon, I think the time is right for the university to open up WUE to all the 16 states and territories who are part of the WICHE compact: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and the Mariana Islands.
 
We have the capacity to welcome more out-of-state students to U of I without compromising our academic excellence, and we have the wherewithal to not lose sight of our mission to serve Idahoans and to bring more Gem State students to college. We’ve always known we deliver on a great investment in education. We're excited to share that story of Vandal excellence across the West and beyond.
 
Many of you reading this reside in WUE states, or know people who do. We’re a large, well-connected Vandal family. Wherever you are, I hope you’ll share this news with people making a decision about college. Let them know that the University of Idaho’s doors are open, and that we want them to walk through those doors and join the Vandal family, on the way to an exciting education, a great career, and a rewarding life.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Crowdfunders Rally Behind U of I Chemistry Professor’s Renewable Energy Project

Peter Allen, assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Idaho, has a global following. Fans and fellow science enthusiasts tune in from around the world to watch videos about chemistry, science, experiments and DIY projects that happen in his lab. This fall, when Allen decided to develop a prototype for an open-source iron battery, a battery that would be simple, safe, inexpensive and non-toxic, he choose to crowdfund for the money needed, pledging to match donor support dollar-for-dollar. A mature version of this battery could help power a renewable future for Idaho and will be simple enough for a hobbyist or high school student to build at home. The crowd responded by raising more than the $5,000 needed to afford the materials and hire UI students to work on the project. To catch the crowdfunding fever – the next round of campaigns will launch on Feb. 12 – and to keep up with Allen’s progress, visit www.uidaho.edu/uandigive.

U of I Violence Against Women Grant Project Underway

One year into a $300,000 grant from the Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women to address gender-based violence, almost 50 people at the University of Idaho and in the Moscow community have formed the University of Idaho Coordinated Community Response Team (UI-CCRT) to develop culturally responsive awareness campaigns and prevention education, lead trainings, review policies, and broaden campus and community involvement to help reduce incidents of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. As part of the grant's goals, the UI-CCRT is encouraging the campus community to participate in Green Dot, the nationally recognized bystander intervention training program offered at U of I since 2012. The Green Dot overview is an orientation to basic bystander intervention available for faculty, staff, and students. The goal of the overview is to leave participants with actionable skills they can use to help interrupt or prevent incidents of power-based personal violence.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Visits

Colson Whitehead, winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for his novel “The Underground Railroad,” will give the keynote address Monday, Feb. 12, as part of the University of Idaho’s Black History Month observance. Whitehead’s talk, “Revisiting the Underground Railroad,” will begin at 7 p.m. Feb. 12 in the International Ballroom of the Bruce M. Pitman Center, 709 Deakin Ave., Moscow. A question-and-answer session and book signing will follow. The event is free. “We are thrilled that Mr. Whitehead will illuminate themes of his remarkable book for our students, faculty and community members,” said Kenton Bird, a faculty member in the U of I School of Journalism and Mass Media who is helping to organize the author’s visit. The talk is supported by the Idaho Humanities Council and several university offices and academic departments.
 
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