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Friday Letter Archive

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

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Letter from the President
March 15, 2019
Dear Friends,
This week in Boise we’ve come together as Vandals for the 2019 Big Sky Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships. Our student-athletes represented the University of Idaho with pride, determination and character. For this week’s Friday Letter I connected with Pete Isakson, interim athletics director, who has stepped in this year to lead our program. I asked him about our successes and our opportunities. 

President Chuck Staben: Why has it been special to have our Big Sky basketball tournament in Boise this year for the first time? What has stood out to you?
Athletic Director Pete Isakson:
The opportunity to play postseason games in our home state is awesome. It’s unfortunate we didn’t end up hoisting the trophy, but we saw such an outpouring of support from our fans and alums down here, as well as the Vandal faithful who traveled to come watch our teams lay it all out there in a tournament setting. It doesn’t get any better than that. We look forward to doing it all again and staying a little longer at next year’s tournament.

CS: We love Athletics, but are also proud of the student side of the student-athlete equation. How have Vandals excelled as students this year?
PI: Our student-athletes put a tremendous amount of work into their academics – 190 student-athletes achieved a 3.0 GPA or better last semester. But I want to single out a couple of the women in our department who have taken their achievements to the next level. Earlier this week, Mikayla Ferenz was named the Division I Women’s Basketball Academic Team Member of the Year. A 4.0 student in actuarial sciences, Mikayla is not only the first Vandal to earn this award in its 30-year history, she’s the first woman in Big Sky Conference history to be named the Academic All-American of the Year in any sport. Last month, former women’s soccer student-athlete Kelly Dopke was awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. One of the most sought-after and prestigious awards the NCAA hands out, the $10,000 scholarship will help jump-start Kelly’s medical career.

CS: Vandals have seen success on the court this year. What other program success have we seen in other sports?
PI: We have seen a great deal of success this season, both individually and with our teams. Last fall, volleyball earned a share of the regular-season Big Sky title and advanced to the conference tournament championship match, while soccer finished second in the league. In winter sports, diver Janelle Lucas became the first woman in WAC history to win four conference championships on the platform. Zachary Short defended his title in the shot put at the Big Sky Indoor Track and Field Championships and became the first Vandal in six years to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Three of our spring teams are defending Big Sky titles – women’s golf and both tennis programs. Women’s tennis is fresh off a win over Oregon and senior Marianna Petrei is seeking her fourth Big Sky MVP award. Women’s golf senior Sophie Hausmann is the reigning Big Sky Player of the Year, and she will spend part of next month competing at Augusta National as part of an elite world amateur tournament.

CS: Sadly, we lost a member of the Vandal Family when Collin Sather passed away. What has that meant to our student-athletes?
PI: First and foremost, our thoughts continue to be with Collin’s family and friends. Collin clearly had a great impact on a number of our student-athletes, coaches and staff during his time in Moscow. It has been powerful to see our student-athletes come together and take care of one another during this difficult time. We’ll have the chance to celebrate Collin with all those who were close to him on March 29, at 4:30 p.m. at Millwood Presbyterian Church near Spokane. He embodied what it means to be a Vandal, and his legacy will live on forever within our department.

CS: The ICCU Arena was approved for construction, pending consultation with the incoming president once named. What will that mean for our Athletics Program?
PI: We are forever grateful to everyone who has stepped up along the way to make the ICCU Arena project a reality and to the State Board of Education for sharing in our vision. This building will transform the future of the university and Vandal Athletics. Many thanks go out to you, President Staben, and to Mike Perry for your leadership on this project. This is an exciting time to be a Vandal. We can’t wait to break ground!

CS: You’re meeting many Vandal alumni and friends this week. What’s the impact of their support for the program?
PI: There are countless Vandals in and around Boise who make a significant impact on the lives of our student-athletes. The Big Sky Championships have brought the student-athlete experience to so many of our alumni and friends in the Treasure Valley and showcased the incredible young men and women who will leave our program better people because of the opportunities afforded by our supporters. New Associate Athletic Director Mahmood Sheikh and I have enjoyed visiting with hundreds of local Vandals and seeing the silver and gold worn and displayed with pride throughout Boise this week.

President Staben: Thank you, Pete, for your leadership in the department and your commitment to student-athlete success.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Pete Isakson returned to U of I in 2017. He earned a master's degree from U of I in 2003 and actually began his career in Athletics at our institution from 1995-96.
Latest News from U of I

Two Faculty Members Receive National Recognition

Two University of Idaho assistant professors have earned national Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Elizabeth Cassel and Michael Strickland will receive a combined $1.38 million in funding for their projects through the prestigious NSF CAREER program, meant to fund the research and education activities of early career faculty. Cassel, assistant professor of geology in the College of Science, will use her $729,932, five-year award to develop a new method for more accurately measuring the timing and magnitude of elevation and terrain changes in the North American Cordillera, which spans the mountains and plateaus of the continent’s entire Rocky Mountain range to the mountainous regions along North America’s West Coast. Strickland, assistant professor in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences' Department of Soil and Water Systems, will use his $651,698, five-year award to determine the effects agricultural antibiotics have on soil food webs and the ecosystem. NSF CAREER awards fund the research and education activities of early career faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.

Vandals Earn National Theatre Awards

Two University of Idaho theatre students and a theatre team took top awards at the regional competition of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Sophomore Andrew Yoder of Boise won the National Award for Excellence in Sound Design for his work in U of I’s performance of “A Kind of Alaska.” Senior Jessica Shehan won the National Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Directing Fellowships Award for her direction of a scene from “The Baltimore Waltz.” In addition, a U of I student improv club, Awkward Silence, took home a second-place award. Members performing were Joseph Winder, Katharine Sonas, Valerie Denton, Andre Szarmach, Emma Pace, Aidan Leonard, Katy Sokol and Ricky Kimball. The festival awards are part of a national theatre program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities across the country. U of I also took first place in the festival’s Tech Olympics with a team composed of Jared Sorensen, Mason Chadd, Valerie Denton and Stephanie Lutz. Read more, including other award winners.

U of I Professors Contribute to Publication on Idaho’s Most Significant Structures

Boise, Moscow and Pocatello have the most architecturally significant structures in the state of Idaho, according to the peer-reviewed online encyclopedia contributed to by University of Idaho faculty members. Idaho’s most significant buildings, landscapes, infrastructure and monuments —from the Panida Theater in Sandpoint to the Red Baron Hangar in Idaho Falls to the Warehouse Historic District in Twin Falls — were recently chronicled in the Society of Architectural Historian’s (SAH) Archipedia by four faculty members in U of I’s College of Art and Architecture. Professor Anne Marshall, Professor Emeritus Wendy McClure, Associate Professor Phillip Mead and Associate Professor Emeritus D. Nels Reese identified, researched, photographed and wrote about 119 districts and buildings for the site. Idaho cities with the most entries include Boise with 23; Moscow with 20; Pocatello with eight; Idaho Falls and Sun Valley with five; Twin Falls and Wallace with four; and Lewiston, Plummer and Sandpoint with three. The academics sought to tell the social and cultural history of the state through their entries.

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Letter from the President
March 8, 2019
Dear Friends,
The University of Idaho is a leader in master's, doctoral, legal and medical education – and we value the contributions of these students and strive to support their work. For this week’s Friday Letter, I connected with Ananth Jillepalli, president of the Graduate and Professional Students Association at U of I. Originally from India by way of Syracuse, New York, Ananth will complete his doctoral degree in computer science this spring. Ananth’s research focuses on cybersecurity; his mentor is Assistant Professor Daniel Conte de Leon. Ananth is committed to serving students, improving the academic environment and leading by example.
 
President Chuck Staben: What are you studying? Why did you choose the University of Idaho?
GPSA President Ananth Jillepalli:
I’m a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Computer Science. My field of study is cybersecurity of critical infrastructure. Five years ago, when I was scouting for a decent grad program with an emphasis on cybersecurity, the University of Idaho’s cybersecurity program was ranked as one of the top 10 in the U.S. I investigated the department’s website, and I liked the resources and flexibility offered by the cybersecurity program here.
 
CS: Tell me about the GPSA. Why is the organization important? What are the organization’s goals and major priorities, as you see them?
AJ: GPSA is a student service organization run by graduate students and for graduate students. It’s important to have an organization like GPSA on every campus because we champion the welfare of graduate students. In the last four years alone, GPSA has helped the university institute several initiatives for grad students. Some examples include in-state tuition waivers for teaching assistants, financial support for grad student clubs and uniform pay scales for graduate assistants’ stipends.
 
GPSA’s goals and priorities, under my leadership since fall 2018, have been four-fold: 1) Minimize bureaucracy and maximize efficiency; 2) Advocate for a parental leave policy for grad students; 3) Advocate for health insurance packages for teaching assistants; and 4) Cultivate a strong graduate student identity and activity on the Moscow campus. Although there remains a lot more to be accomplished, I’m proud of the progress we’ve made on each of these issues.
 
CS: What have you learned about being a leader, as president of the GPSA?
AJ: Four things about leadership have stood out to me during my time in GPSA: 1) One has to be better than themselves and their peers, for true leaders must lead by example; 2) One must realize and understand that not everything is always clean – one cannot grow and maintain a beautiful garden without getting their hands dirty; 3) Bringing about change in an organization is hard, and even harder is ensuring that the change is actually implemented and not just left on paper; and 4) One must use their powers like the waves of an ocean – harsh and unrelenting at times, yet welcoming and soothing at other times.
 
CS: What’s a challenge you’ve had to overcome as a student or as GPSA president? What did you learn about yourself?
AJ: Until recently, GPSA has had an idealistic organizational structure, which was steeped in red tape and prone to inefficient management. Since joining GPSA four years ago, my biggest challenge has always been to change the way GPSA functions, to make it as efficient as possible. And after years of struggling with this challenge, I realized that the only realistic solution was to rewrite the GPSA Constitution from scratch. I rewrote the GPSA Constitution with help from the GPSA executive board, and it is on the path to be ratified by the GPSA body. There were several times where I considered dropping this action item. However, in the end, I’m glad to have not abandoned it. We now have a structure that’s still democratic, but will facilitate quicker action. I’ve learned that well-guided decisiveness and perseverance pays off in the end.
 
CS: What would you tell prospective graduate students about U of I?
AJ: Prospective grad students are like seedlings looking for a place that will help them grow. U of I is that fertile soil that will provide them with all the opportunities and resources required for them to grow and bloom. I have been at U of I for four years and all through this time, I’ve never once been disappointed about choosing U of I for my grad studies. I’d happily give U of I an 11/10, and I would choose this school again if I could ever go back in time.
 
CS: What are your future plans? 
AJ: I hope to graduate by summer 2019, and after that I wish to serve in academia. The field of cybersecurity is growing rapidly, and I want to teach and do research that contributes to a safer, more secure world.
 
President Staben: Thanks, Ananth, for sharing your insight, and for representing students in GPSA. We wish you continued success as president and in your future after U of I!
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
We appreciate Ananth Jillepalli's leadership, and the contributions of all advanced degree seekers in building a dynamic living and learning community!
Latest News from U of I

Greg Nelson Gives the Gift of Exploration

At a young age, the historical and cultural sites that Greg Nelson ’77 and his family visited on camping trips exposed him to topics ranging from the segregation of the South to the mythical romance of the West. As a student at the University of Idaho, Nelson continued to expand his understanding of the world through similar learning opportunities. Nelson has chosen to give scholarship support to U of I students studying geography to ensure they have a broad education. “It feels great to be able to take part in a student’s journey through higher education and make sure that they are not crushed by heavy student debt,” Nelson said. “As an individual with modest means, I can give to U of I now with a charitable gift annuity and receive income and some tax benefits.” Gifts like Nelson’s will provide students room to explore options in U of I’s welcoming and individualized environment. For more information on charitable gift annuities, contact Sharon Morgan, morgans@uidaho.edu or toll-free at 866-671-7041.

Meet Tom Mueller: From Idaho Logger to SpaceX Co-founder

From Jan. 25 at CNBC: Tom Mueller started life in Idaho, the son of a logger; he himself worked summers logging when he was a student. But today, Mueller is a rocket scientist and co-founder of Elon Musk's SpaceX. Mueller isn't famous like Musk, but he is a linchpin in the story of SpaceX — as chief technology officer of propulsion, he leads the team that makes sure the rockets lift off. Mueller met Musk in Los Angeles in the early 2000s through a mutual friend, and they decided to build rockets that could one day take humans to Mars. Read more.

JFAC Approves $7 Million Scholarship Boost

From March 5 in Idaho Education News: The Opportunity Scholarship is in line for a $7 million increase. The new money, approved unanimously by the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, would fund at least 2,000 additional college scholarships next year — and cut into unmet demand. The need- and merit-based Opportunity Scholarship is the state’s centerpiece financial aid award, and part of a multimillion-dollar campaign to convince high school graduates to continue their education. This year, Idaho is awarding $13.5 million in scholarships. Boosting the program to $20.5 million is one of Gov. Brad Little’s top budget priorities. Even with this year’s $13.5 million — a record Opportunity Scholarship budget — more than 3,400 eligible students remain on a waiting list. […] The Opportunity Scholarship budget bill still must pass the House and Senate. Read more.

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Letter from the President
March 1, 2019
Dear Friends,
As a public research university, we tackle problems important to Idaho that have worldwide impact. What is more crucial than how we feed a hungry planet? How do we supply protein efficiently and sustainably? How do we create a workforce ready to contribute innovation and expertise? How do we partner with communities and our industries to foster sustainable prosperity?
 
The proposed Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) at the University of Idaho will tackle those critical challenges. We recently took a significant step toward bringing CAFE to life when the State Board of Education approved our acquisition of 640 acres of land near Rupert. We partnered with the Idaho Dairymen’s Association – that organization supported the $4.5 million acquisition with $2 million – and the Whitesides family on the purchase. The 2,000-cow research dairy we plan to build on this site will be the largest operation of its kind in the United States.
 
CAFE represents a proposed $45 million investment in animal agriculture – a fast-growing agriculture sector that provides a significant percentage of Idaho’s farm revenues. Idaho now ranks third nationally in milk production – behind only California and Wisconsin – with the dairy industry concentrated in southern Idaho, especially the Magic Valley. In addition, food processors like Glanbia, Chobani, Jerome Cheese Co. and others have emerged as notable employers. Food processors depend on a steady supply of quality milk; all of us depend on sustainable production with minimal environmental impact to preserve Idaho for future generations. 
 
Milk production relies on livestock, soil and feed, energy, and water inputs, and has considerable environmental impacts. In each case, the new research dairy at CAFE can help us work in collaboration with industry to promote effective and long-term success. Our dynamic research enterprise will also train the next generation of dairy professionals – a unique laboratory for cultivating Idaho expertise.
 
The center’s distributed model features two other important elements: an outreach and engagement center in the Magic Valley, and a dairy processing program to be developed in collaboration with the College of Southern Idaho (CSI). We’ve already identified a location for the outreach and engagement center at Crossroads Point, in Jerome County. The distributed model of the center offers us the most prudent fiscal course, a way to best work with collaborators like CSI, and an opportunity to place our outreach and engagement center in the population center of Twin Falls.
 
A number of key partners have helped make our progress possible so far. The Idaho Dairymen’s Association and the Whitesides family were instrumental in securing the research dairy site near Rupert, of course. Glanbia, Elanco, Northwest Farm Credit Services and the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation have contributed to the project. The Idaho Barley Commission is a supporter. The Jerome 20/20 economic development organization has been highly engaged. We’re proud to have the support of private individuals, as well – people like Don and Mary Johnson, who see the vision for this project, the need it fills, and the opportunities it stands to unlock for our state and our world (read more about the Johnsons below). Partnership also comes from the state of Idaho, which has appropriated $10 million for this project, with a planned total contribution of $15 million if we can provide $30 million in non-state funds. Fundraising for CAFE continues – if you’d like to get involved, contact Jim Miller at 208-885-7476 – as we build on this base of support.
 
The purchase of the Rupert-area property represents our first step toward the world-leading dairy research, education, and outreach that Idaho deserves and of which Vandals can be proud.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Johnsons Help U of I Lead the Way with CAFE Project

Don ’59 and Mary Johnson have spent their careers in Idaho dairy. After completing a bachelor’s degree in animal and dairy science at the University of Idaho, Don returned to Kuna as the second generation to own and operate the family dairy. He and Mary married and raised three sons on the dairy, operating it for 40 years before deciding to sell the property and retire. The Johnsons’ experience in the dairy industry and decades of community involvement inform their view on the importance of the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) to provide research and education to the state and nation. The couple recently donated in support of the project. “We felt CAFE would make Idaho a place for others in the industry to follow,” Don said. “It will let us lead the way in innovation, research and marketing for the dairy industry and agriculture in general.” “The Johnson’s gift came at a perfect time to energize the CAFE project,” said Michael Parrella, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS).  “The significance of their contribution as individual dairy producers and members of the Vandal Family is hard to measure.” For more information on supporting CAFE, contact Jim Miller, director of development and capital projects for CALS, at 208-885-7476 or jimmiller@uidaho.edu.

Collaboration Thrives at Rock Creek Ranch

From Feb. 5 on MagicValley.com: Rock Creek Ranch embraces 10,400 acres in a series of succulent meadows surrounded by miles upon miles of quality rangeland below the shadow of the Smoky Mountains in Blaine County. The ranch is home to sage grouse, a species of concern, as well as moose, elk, deer, antelope and other critters. Because of its dual qualities as a working ranch with strong conservation values, the Wood River Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy, in a unique partnership with the University of Idaho, purchased Rock Creek Ranch from the Rinker Family. Under the partnership, the university provides a cow-calf cattle herd from its Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center in Salmon for rangeland research. The 850-acre Cummings Ranch is all irrigated pasture. Rock Creek offers an opportunity to do research on a ranch with a true rangeland setting. “It’s a great station, we can do a lot of great research here, but one of the things we’ve always lacked has been a range component,” Cummings center Superintendent John Hall said. “That means our system of production was not really relevant to the majority of the industry, which relies on range at least five to six months out of the year. So the Rock Creek Ranch gave us a wonderful opportunity to expand our research, and make our research more industry-relevant.” Read more.

CNR Student Selected for International Program in Sweden

College of Natural Resources doctoral candidate Sarah Burnet is one of 27 graduate students selected nationally for the first cohort of the Limnology and Oceanography Research Exchange (LOREX) program run by the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography. The LOREX program connects U.S. aquatic science graduate students with international scholars to collaborate on research at the collaborator's home institution. Burnett will collaborate with Janne Karlsson and Ann-Kristin Bergstrom at the Climate Impacts Research Centre at the Abisko Scientific Research Station associated with Umeå University in Sweden for two months in 2019. While at the centre, she will assess the role of sediment-released phosphorus from laboratory-incubated cores collected from arctic lakes. Her research in Sweden will be part of her doctoral dissertation, advised by Frank Wilhelm, focusing on sediment biogeochemistry and physical limnology to inform decisions for lake management.

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Letter from the President
Feb. 22, 2019
Dear Friends,
This is an exciting weekend at the University of Idaho. Our 52nd annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival finds a lineup of world-class artists, music lovers from all over, and students descending on Moscow. We’ll welcome more than 4,000 students – college-age, elementary, middle and high school – from 130 schools to campus for competitions and workshops. While this signature event has evolved over the years, we’ve never lost sight of the power of musical performance and education to teach and inspire.
 
The festival is one of many recent success stories at Idaho’s great public research university. Let me share with you a few notable recent developments at our institution and for higher education. Did you know:
  • In January, the State Board of Education unveiled a new “Data Dashboard” that allows one to view and compare a wide variety of metrics. Take a look at important data points such as remediation, retention and graduation. At U of I, we are always looking to improve, and we have work to do, but we’re proud of how we’re serving students.
  • Last week, the State Board of Education approved the purchase of land toward a critical U of I project, the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment. The Idaho Dairymen’s Association joins us to acquire 640 acres from the Whitesides family near Rupert. Idaho is now third nationally in milk production, so building the nation’s largest research dairy will help accelerate and enhance that success and is a great fit for U of I’s expertise.
  • Jim Bull will be joining the Vandal Family. Jim, an evolutionary biologist, is a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and will be the first NAS member at an Idaho university. I’ve known Jim for 20 years – we were on a National Institutes of Health study section together. He’ll be a mentor for students and, as a specialist in the evolution of viruses, an important contributor to our research enterprise. When we talk about prestige as an institution, we’re talking about academic and research excellence personified by people like Jim.
  • U of I’s combination of affordability, academic excellence and career outcomes earned us a spot on The Princeton Review’s 2019 list of The Best Value Colleges: 200 Schools with Exceptional ROI for Your Tuition Investment.” The Princeton Review cites a number of data sources, including PayScale.com data on starting and mid-career salaries for graduates. The publication concludes: “The University is an incredible deal for both residents of Idaho and those who would like to spend their formative years in the Gem State.”
Those points represent important achievements across our mission to serve students, conduct research and make a difference in our state. Let’s keep building on our success.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
P.S. Last week I mentioned the Vandal Promise scholarship initiative. That program invites support of $5,000 annually for five years – a commitment especially valuable for students who work while attending college full-time. We appreciate the generosity of donors who have joined on already – and those who would like to – to make life-changing educational experiences possible for Idaho students. To learn more about supporting the Vandal Promise campaign, contact Kim O'Neill, associate vice president for development, at 208-885-5371 or kimoneill@uidaho.edu.
Latest News from U of I

Idaho Forest Group Sponsors CNR Distinguished Speaker Series

One of America’s largest lumber producers, the family owned Idaho Forest Group (IFG) prides itself on observing stewardship and land management practices that ensure sustainable, resilient, productive forests. IFG also serves the people of Idaho through cooperative, constructive relationships with employees, their families, landowners, and organizations such as the University of Idaho. With a demonstrated commitment to lifelong learning and a firm belief in community philanthropy, IFG recently sponsored an eight-part speaker series in collaboration with the University of Idaho College of Natural Resources, taking place over the next two years across Idaho. “The speaker series will provide a forum to discuss ideas, develop relationships, and create shared meaning from multiple perspectives,” said Tom Schultz, IFG’s vice president for governmental affairs. ”We are very pleased to have the College of Natural Resources as a strategic partner in educating students to become contributing members of society and our industry.” The first lecture will take place in Moscow at the Best Western Plus - University Inn on March 21, 5-7 p.m.; Dr. Alan Potter, senior adviser and former Executive Vice President with FPInnovations, will present "Forestry 4.0 and Other Research Initiatives in the Canadian Bioeconomy." Contact Jennifer Farnum at jfarnum@uidaho.edu or 208-885-5145 for details and registration.

Architecture Professors Document Idaho’s Most Significant Structures

Several College of Art and Architecture professors — past and present — contributed their expertise to the recent publication of SAH Archipedia, an online encyclopedia that highlights the most significant buildings, landscapes, infrastructure and monuments across the country, including the top 100-plus in the state of Idaho. The professors helped explain the structures’ styles and typologies, materials and techniques and social and political contexts, according to the Society of Architectural Historians. Entries demonstrate the richness and diversity of architecture and building practices and vary in geographical location. They include the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, with its trailhead in Plummer; the Mission of the Sacred Heart, Idaho’s oldest standing building, constructed by the Coeur d’Alenes and Jesuit missionaries in Cataldo; the contemporary and visually stunning Chicken Point Cabin in Hayden; the Hispanic Cultural Center of Idaho in Nampa; the historic Fort Russell Neighborhood District in Moscow; and the Modern Idaho Potato Cellar in American Falls. The featured structures tell the story of architecture in the United States from pre-European settlement to the 21st century.

Overcoming Change and Uncertainty

When Bishal Thapa first arrived in Idaho he assumed he would encounter tall buildings, large groups of people and cars everywhere. Growing up in Nepal, Thapa harbored the perception that the United States was similar to what he’d seen on the big screen of New York or Los Angeles. Arriving in Moscow to begin his studies in agricultural education from the University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) and biological engineering with an agricultural emphasis from the College of Engineering quickly dispelled him of that notion. “They don't show Idaho in movies, they only show big cities,” Thapa said. “I flew to the Moscow-Pullman Airport and all I could see were patches of big round things everywhere on brown land. “I was thinking the whole time, ‘Am I going to the right place? Is my university just one building in the middle of the field?’” Thapa said. Fortunately, Thapa learned at a young age that change and uncertainty are guaranteed elements of life. How a person manages uncertainty — whether they choose to overcome change or resist it — all comes down to a person’s attitude. Read more.

CNR Doctoral Student Wins National Award from Ecological Society of America

College of Natural Resources doctoral candidate Kristina Bartowitz is one of 10 students nationwide selected to receive the Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award by the Ecological Society of America. This award provides graduate students the opportunity to receive policy and communication training in Washington, D.C., and meet lawmakers. Working with her faculty advisor, Tara Hudiburg, Bartowitz studies the interaction between climate, wildfires and ecosystems. Using ecosystem models, she is studying how repeated disturbance and climate change will impact forest composition and structure as well as ecosystem resilience. Bartowitz will travel to the nation’s capital in March to learn about the legislative process and federal science funding, hear from ecologists working in federal agencies and meet with Idaho members of Congress on Capitol Hill.

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Letter from the President
Feb. 15, 2019
Dear Friends,
Over my five years at the University of Idaho, we’ve promoted college-going for our state and its citizens. We’ve streamlined many processes at U of I and throughout the state as well as joined other institutions in aggressive marketing and recruitment. But the “go-on” rate remains stubbornly low. How can we finally move the needle?
 
Gov. Brad Little’s proposed $7 million increase to the state’s Opportunity Scholarship program can help bring more students to postsecondary education. Potentially reaching 2,000 more students, each $3,500 award can help address the central concern students have about college: cost.
 
Let me give you an example. A University of Idaho freshman, let’s call her Emma, comes from a hardworking family with annual income of $41,000 – somewhat below the state’s average family income of $49,000. (In fact, about 39 percent of U of I students are similarly situated.) Emma is a well-qualified student, with a solid 3.5 GPA. Even given the comparative affordability of our state’s public colleges and universities, and even after her family contribution ($1,000), federal loans ($5,500), personal savings from summer and part-time work ($4,000) and U of I aid (a renewable $2,000 Go Idaho! scholarship), Emma has a gap to bridge.
 
For Emma, a $3,000 gap might as well be $3 million. That’s why the Opportunity Scholarship is so important. The program weighs both need and academic achievement in determining eligibility. But funding limitations have meant that more than 4,500 eligible students – accomplished and motivated students similar to Emma – are on a waiting list to receive an award.
 
The Opportunity Scholarship is an award to a student, not to an institution. If a student earns an award and decides the academic programs at the University of Idaho are the right fit for his or her future, then we appreciate having earned that consideration. We are also putting our own skin in the game, bolstering our institutional aid with the new Vandal Promise campaign that seeks donors willing to offer $5,000 annually for five years so that money can go to qualified students. This campaign represents immediate cash to bridge a funding gap and help a student succeed.

An aggressive need- and merit-based program such as the Opportunity Scholarship – matched here at U of I by programs such as Vandal Promise – helps address cost, the primary driver of decisions not to pursue education. The renewability of the award for up to four years with a minimum GPA also incentivizes retention from year to year through to graduation – outcomes we strive to help students realize.
 
Unfortunately, the time has passed since one could pay for college simply through hard work at a summer job. One of our celebrated alumni, SpaceX co-founder Tom Mueller, did just that, logging in the summer with his family in St. Maries. But costs have risen beyond the point where that is feasible for most students. I appreciate the governor’s and the state of Idaho’s commitment to ensuring we reward the ambition of students like Tom and Emma. This is a long-term investment in our students, in our state, and in our shared future.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Dennis Reece Invests in Student Success

Dennis Reece of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, recently made a $25,000 gift to establish the Dennis Reece Chemistry and Geology Scholarship Endowment. The endowment provides valuable scholarship support for undergraduate and graduate students in both departments. Reece earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and master’s degrees in chemistry and hydrology at U of I. He is a vice president with AECOM, overseeing remediation and restoration projects. “Scholarships to the University of Idaho are important to help students achieve their goals,” Reece said. “Their subsequent contributions during their careers will benefit Idaho and our nation.” 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 Named “Best Value College” by The Princeton Review

The University of Idaho has earned national recognition with a spot on The Princeton Review’s 2019 list of “The Best Value Colleges: 200 Schools with Exceptional ROI for Your Tuition Investment.” The annual book is aimed at “college shoppers seeking affordable, academically outstanding colleges that stand out for their success at guiding students to rewarding careers.” The Princeton Review’s methodology is informed by 40 data points, including Payscale.com data on starting and mid-career salaries, and by surveys that measure academics, affordability and student success. Financial support is an important component of the analysis — U of I awards $25 million in annual aid, participates in the Western Undergraduate Exchange program, and has scholarships for other non-residents outside of that region. The university’s array of Career Services programs and resources are also touted. The Princeton Review’s bottom line: “The University of Idaho is an incredible deal for both residents of Idaho and those who would like to spend their formative years in the Gem State.”

Dopke Earns NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship

Former soccer student-athlete Kelly Dopke has been named one of the recipients of the 2018-19 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. The scholarship, worth $10,000, is awarded to former student-athletes based on academic and athletic success, as well as other factors including community service and standing within the institution. In all, 21 men and 21 women participating in fall sports are awarded the scholarship. Dopke will use the funds to jump-start her medical career. Earlier this year, she became the first Vandal soccer player and the third female Vandal ever to earn Google Cloud Academic All-America First Team honors, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Dopke was an All-Big Sky First Team selection and was named the 2018 Big Sky Defensive Most Valuable Player. She also earned United Soccer Coaches All-West Region Second Team honors. Her class leaves Idaho as the winningest class in program history, having won 41 games in four years. She currently boasts a 4.00 GPA in the medical sciences.

National Academy of Sciences Member Jim Bull to Join U of I Faculty

National Academy of Sciences (NAS) member Jim Bull will join the University of Idaho faculty in fall 2019 – the first NAS member affiliated with an Idaho university. The NAS is charged by Congress to provide the nation objective and independent council on scientific and technological matters. Bull is an evolutionary biologist who has specialized in the evolution of viruses and sex determination. He joins the College of Science Department of Biological Sciences from The University of Texas at Austin. At U of I, Bull plans to offer a course that instructs students on how to think scientifically. He is starting a collaboration with Department of Mathematics faculty members Steve Krone and Chris Remien that will use computer modeling to investigate the effectiveness of a genetic engineering technology called gene drive that spreads desired genes throughout a population. In work with Department of Biological Sciences’ Scott Nuismer, Bull will study the potential for designing vaccines that could be transmitted from animal to animal without inoculating each animal individually in order to create an immune population.

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Letter from the President
Feb. 8, 2019
Dear Friends,
Private giving provides a critical margin for excellence at the University of Idaho. The University of Idaho Foundation, and its volunteer board, manage private gifts to support Vandal students, faculty, programs and initiatives. This week I connected with Andrew Emerson ’97, our new foundation chairman, to learn more about his leadership and help shine a light on the important work of the foundation.
 
President Chuck Staben: Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Why did you choose the University of Idaho?
Chairman Andrew Emerson ’97:
I grew up in Lewiston and attended a lot of Vandal football and basketball games in the 1980s, so I had been to Moscow often. Like many high school graduates, the allure of leaving the area was appealing, but it came at a significant price tag that would have meant serious student loans. I have to credit my parents for helping an impressionable teenager understand that concept. Additionally, I planned to study engineering, and U of I had a much better program than the other schools I applied to. In retrospect, I can say unequivocally that I made the right choice. I obtained a great education, made lifelong friends and graduated debt-free. There's not much more you can ask for.
 
CS: You’re a civil engineering graduate. How did U of I prepare you for life and work? 
AE: The rigor of the engineering curriculum taught me a lot about problem-solving, analytical processes and time management – skills I use daily. I also have a Spanish minor from U of I, and I use my Spanish skills every day. The combination of language and engineering backgrounds opened a lot of doors for me professionally. As a part of the Spanish minor curriculum, I spent a semester studying in Chile, where I met my future wife and gained an appreciation for the people and culture. After graduation I spent a year living and working in Chile before eventually settling in Boise. My employer supplied conveyor systems to the mining industry and the bulk of our projects were in South America, mainly Chile and Peru, so I've had many opportunities to return to Latin America over the years.
  
College is about a lot more than just going to classes, taking exams and writing papers. It's a transformative time where you learn a lot of life skills and transition to adulthood. I was fairly shy when I entered U of I and pledged Sigma Nu fraternity. I credit the guys in the house and the Greek system as a whole for helping me break out of my shell. Those social skills have been invaluable in business and life.
 
CS: Why did you want to take on the role of chairman of the foundation? What do you like about the work so far?
AE: I have been on the foundation board for several years, and I can't overstate how impressed I've been by the caliber of people I've met during that time. When Karen Gowland asked if I would succeed her as chairman, I was humbled, excited and a little anxious. I don't take the honor lightly. We’re the largest public foundation in Idaho, with about $350 million in total assets at the end of the most recent fiscal year.
 
Far and away the most rewarding aspect of foundation work is helping students achieve their goals through our financial support. At the end of the day, that's why we are here. In fiscal year 2018, we distributed $10.9 million from our endowment to fund scholarships. Since fiscal year 2000, we have distributed $339 million. We have been a major supporter of Idaho Central Credit Union Arena and other building projects and university initiatives. We’re proud the endowment and accounts we oversee provide opportunities for students and for university priorities.
  
CS: U of I is working on a scholarship campaign called “Vandal Promise.” What is that campaign, and why is it important?
AE: We know too many students struggle with the financial barriers of attending college – the average gap students face is $5,000. They come from backgrounds that don’t prioritize college or have the ability to provide the necessary financial support. Oftentimes, a relatively small amount of the overall cost prevents students from changing their lives forever. The university is trying to tackle that problem head-on, establishing the Vandal Promise need-based scholarship campaign. Our goal is to provide students with need-based scholarship support. The long-term benefit to their lives and our state as a whole is tremendous.
 
CS: You’ve been involved with U of I advisory boards, the Alumni Association and other areas. Do you have advice for alumni who might not yet be engaged?
AE: I stay closely engaged with the College of Engineering. I have been very impressed by Dean Larry Stauffer's vision and accomplishments. I support Athletics, contributing annually to the Vandal Scholarship Fund, attending Vandal sporting events, and recently getting to know the Women's Tennis Team, where I’ve been impressed by the student-athletes Coach Babar Akbar has recruited.
 
There are many ways for alumni to get engaged. Alumni events around the state and region are great for networking with other alumni and U of I leadership – you’ll often find another opportunity to get involved through that. You can also reach out to people in an individual college, living group, athletics, or other area of interest. I've found that once you establish contact, the power of the Vandal network takes over.
 
CS: What’s one thing that’s surprised you so far as chairman of the foundation?
AE: Probably the variety and complexity of gifts the foundation receives. We have received everything from artwork and rugs to fully operating farms and occupied apartment buildings. Our Gift Acceptance Committee meetings are generally pretty interesting, and we work hard to mitigate risk while maximizing the benefit to the university and its students and programs, and to our donors.
 
President Chuck Staben: Thank you, Andrew. We appreciate your leadership; it means so much to our continued progress as a university. To learn more about supporting the Vandal Promise campaign, contact Kim O'Neill, associate vice president for development, at 208-885-5371 or kimoneill@uidaho.edu.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Loyal Vandals Darrell and Rosemary Daubert Support Athletics

Darrell ’59 and Rosemary ’62 Daubert set an incredible example for all long-time supporters of the University of Idaho and Vandal Athletics. Darrell believes in helping Vandal Athletics reach the next level with contributions to the Kibbie Dome renovation and most recently, the ICCU Arena. Nearing his 60th class reunion, Darrell’s support begins long before he became a U of I alum. He regularly attended Vandal football games as a high school student, eventually becoming a member of the university’s freshman football team. He has continued to be part of the team for seven decades, as a season ticket holder and member of the Vandal Scholarship Fund, Quarterback Club and Round Ball Club. “I continue to be a part of the Vandal family because I love the University of Idaho,” Daubert said. “It is a wonderful university.” For more information on supporting Vandal Athletics, contact Abby McLauchlin at 208-885-0259 or amclauchlin@uidaho.edu.

Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival Seeks Volunteers

From greeting guests and managing competition sites to driving artists and educators to locations around town, the University of Idaho’s Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival is seeking volunteers to fill a variety of roles for this year’s festival, Feb. 22-23, 2019. The two-day event, part of the Lionel Hampton School of Music in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, will host thousands of student performers from across the region, who will be competing and attending educational sessions on the U of I campus. Volunteers have the opportunity to earn one evening concert ticket for every four hours of service, including training and orientation meetings. Volunteer registration is open to community members, students, faculty and staff. For a description of the specific volunteer opportunities available, visit uidaho.edu/class/jazzfest/get-involved. To volunteer for the 2019 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, call 208-885-5900 or email jazzvolunteer@uidaho.edu

Mikayla Ferenz Featured in Idaho Statesman

From the Idaho Statesman: To get an idea of just how good Mikayla Ferenz is with a basketball in her hands, consider the company she keeps. The University of Idaho’s 5-foot-10 senior guard is on a short list that includes 2018 NCAA Tournament MVP Arike Ogunbowale of Notre Dame, reigning ACC Player of the Year Asia Durr of Louisville and All-American Katie Lou Samuelson of UConn. And what exactly do those four players have in common? They are among just 12 active NCAA Division I women’s basketball players with 2,000 or more career points. […] Ferenz set the Vandals’ single-season scoring record in 2017-18 with 742 points, and this season she is just 55 points away from breaking the program’s career scoring record. Alli Nieman holds the school record with 2,140 points from 1996 to 2000. […] The 2019 Big Sky men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be March 11-16 at CenturyLink Arena in Boise. The women play March 11-13 with the championship on March 15. The men play March 13-16. Single-game and tournament passes can be purchased at CenturyLinkArenaBoise.com.

New Program Brings U of I Students, Inmates Together for Class

From the Lewiston Tribune: As a group of University of Idaho students make their way to class, they have to exchange their IDs for bright yellow visitor badges. They are escorted through a maze of hallways and several locked doors before they reach their destination: a classroom tucked away inside a prison. For three hours every week, the students sit side-by-side with inmates at the Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino as they pursue higher education goals through the Inside Out program. It’s the first time the international program has been offered in the state of Idaho. […] For the inmates, the program can build confidence and skill sets they can use once they’re released. Each prisoner must meet certain behavioral standards to participate. The class is free, but if the inmates want college credit for the course they have to pay about $1,200 in tuition. The inmates must have a high school diploma or GED certificate to be eligible. As for the UI students, the majority of whose studies include an emphasis in criminology, it helps create an awareness and understanding of prison populations and the hurdles inmates face when trying to re-enter society.

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Letter from the President
Dear Friends,
Feb. 1, 2019
Dear Friends,
Wednesday marked 130 years since our founding as Idaho’s land-grant research university. That proud heritage informs our forward-looking mission to help students excel and graduate prepared for the challenges of today and tomorrow. This week I connected with Cher Hendricks, our vice provost for academic initiatives, to introduce a fresh face in U of I leadership and to gain insight on our efforts to help even more Vandal students succeed.

President Chuck Staben: Tell us a little about yourself. How and why did you come to academic leadership?
Vice Provost Cher Hendricks:
I’ve had a varied career, from working in technical theatre building sets and props to teaching students with special needs at the elementary and middle school levels. I earned a Ph.D. in Educational Research and Measurement and began my university teaching career in 1998. After a stint at Georgia Tech as a research scientist, I started working in faculty development and really found my passion. It didn’t take long to realize that faculty are the key to moving academic initiatives forward, and I started working closely on various academic initiatives related to student success, undergraduate education, and general education. When I discovered the Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives position at U of I in 2017, it was a perfect fit.

CS: U of I is a leader in student success – retention and graduation. How can we improve on that success? What is top of the list?
CH:
We have a great freshman retention rate, but we could do a lot better with achievement gaps for underrepresented groups and to improve our 4-year graduation rate. On-time graduation means less student debt and more earning potential. I think any of us who have or have had a child in college can relate to the desire for our kids to finish on-time. But we should also focus on providing students with courses and experiences that are meaningful and engaging. Success isn’t just about graduating in four years. It’s also about offering academic programs and co-curricular experiences that help students learn and develop habits of mind that will support them throughout their personal and professional lives.

CS: The University of Idaho recently joined onto the APLU’s “Powered by Publics: Scaling Student Success” initiative. Why is that initiative important?
CH:
Powered by Publics focuses on student success, college completion and workforce preparation. There are 130 institutions taking part, and those institutions work within a smaller cluster of similar institutions. We’ll collaborate in our Western Land-Grant cluster with schools similar to us and facing similar challenges. We have the opportunity to share strategies that are working for us and learn from our sister schools about the effective student success and support strategies they’ve used. In a way, we are a learning community that’s focused on implementing evidence-based strategies to help students succeed.

CS: What is the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning? Why is it critical, and what success have we had with it?
CH: The CETL supports development of faculty at all levels, from tenured full professors to part-time instructors, focusing particularly on helping faculty build teaching skills to best support active, engaged student learning. CETL supports faculty whether they are teaching face-to-face, blended classes or fully online. Faculty can get help with using technology tools, but they also have access to staff who can help redesign an entire course using evidence-based practices that increase student learning and engagement. Students, of course, benefit from taking well-designed courses that set them up for success. For faculty, the CETL provides a place to tinker with their courses, try new strategies, and work with other colleagues who have similar interests in teaching and learning. This type of community building is a great outcome for the work the Center is facilitating.

CS: You and College of Science Dean Ginger Carney are co-chairing this year’s Vandal Ideas Project: Transform initiative. What are your hopes for that project?
CH: I hope we’ll see innovative, scalable and sustainable ideas that focus on on-time degree completion. I’ve been engaged in student success work for many years now, and it’s easy for me to get tunnel vision and focus on strategies I know to be effective or that I’ve seen have success at various institutions. But we need fresh ideas and new ways of thinking about and supporting student success. I’m excited to see some truly innovative ideas come from our students, faculty, and staff.

CS: What do you like about your job? What experience that stands out?
CH: I like the people I work with, the students I get to interact with, and the complex problems I get to try to solve with others. On the student side, I often work with students appealing an academic decision. A student may have had a tough semester or made poor decisions that put them in a difficult situation. We’ll often have a long discussion about where they are and how they got there, and sometimes I’ll get out the catalog and help map a way forward. In other cases, we may have a hard conversation about choices and the effects of those choices. Connecting with students  always puts me back in touch with my purpose for being in higher education — which for me centers on the student and the student experience. Those moments with students are important and special to me.

President Staben: Thank you, Cher, for serving our students. We appreciate your energy and passion for innovation. Go Vandals!
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Erstads Design Vandal Educational Opportunities

While not themselves University of Idaho alumni, Andy and Shannon Erstad have plenty of branches on their Vandal family tree, including parents, siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews, and, closest to home, two of their children. The Erstads have also participated as Parent Advisory Board Members and served on the College of Art and Architecture’s Advisory Council. They’ve felt inspired to advance the university’s mission of a world-class education for students, especially those with financial need. The Erstads created two endowed scholarships for CAA students. “Endowing two scholarships is a small step in assuring that students inspired to pursue a career in architecture and interior design will have an opportunity at some financial help,” Andy said. “I was fortunate to receive scholarships as a student, and am committed to providing that opportunity to others.” The Erstads are also excited about the opportunities U of I students earn at erstad ARCHITECTS, their Boise-based company, through internship programs and as exceptional graduates. Vandals comprise the vast majority of their workforce. To learn more about supporting scholarships and the College of Art and Architecture, contact Brad Martin at 208-885-0935 or bmartin@uidaho.edu

53 Vandals Earn Big Sky Academic Honors

The University of Idaho landed 53 student-athletes on the 2018 Big Sky Fall All-Academic Teams for football, volleyball, women's soccer and men's and women's cross country. The Vandals were led by 15 women's soccer student-athletes earning all-academic accolades. Football followed close behind with 14 all-academic team members. Idaho led the Big Sky in women's cross country with 11 all-academic honorees. Men's cross country (seven) and volleyball (six) rounded out Idaho's contingent. Each of Idaho's fall sports teams increased or maintained its number of all-academic team members from 2017. Women's soccer student-athletes Kelly Dopke and Claire Johnson concluded their Vandal careers as four-time Big Sky All-Academic recipients. Nine more Vandals were honored for a third time this year. To be eligible for the recognition, a student-athlete must carry at least a 3.2 cumulative grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale) and participate in at least 50 percent of the team's competitions.

State Rep. Maxine Bell Given Honorary Jean’ne M. Shreeve Research Excellence Award

Longtime Idaho State Rep. Maxine Bell has been presented with the first ever honorary Jean'ne M. Shreeve NSF EPSCoR Research Excellence Award by the Idaho Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), the first time since the award’s 2011 establishment it has gone to a non-faculty member at one of Idaho’s universities. The award recognizes Bell’s long-standing support for high-quality scientific research at Idaho’s universities and her extraordinary leadership at the state level. Bell, of Jerome, recently retired after more than 30 years in the Idaho Legislature. She was appointed by the State Board of Education to the Idaho EPSCoR Committee in 2001 and has been an active member ever since. Since Bell’s appointment to the EPSCoR Committee, research and development expenditures from all sources at Idaho’s universities and colleges have nearly doubled, from $82.5 million to $155 million in 2016, and Idaho’s share of National Science Foundation research funding tripled. Those investments address water and natural resources issues, biomedical science needs and other topics of importance to Idaho, as well as educate and train scientists.

Safe Routes to School Celebrates 10 Years at U of I

The Safe Routes to School program at the University of Idaho, which helps encourage walking, biking and other physical activity, is marking 10 years in 2019. The group’s next event is the Polar Walk on Wednesday, Feb. 6, which includes hot chocolate for elementary and middle school participants. Elementary and middle school students, with the help of 50-80 U of I students, staff and other volunteers, will walk to school and participate in morning activities designed to help the young students get to their classes safely. The mission of Safe Routes to School is to educate and encourage physical activity as well as change the perception that walking and biking to school is inconvenient or unsafe. With the help of an army of U of I student volunteers, student-athletes and others, participation among Moscow School District students for the walk-to-school events has increased from about 50 percent to 70-80 percent over the past decade. U of I students, staff or faculty interested in volunteering for the Polar Walk or other programs can contact Erin Bacon, U of I’s Safe Routes to School program coordinator, at ebacon@uidaho.edu.

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Letter from the President
Jan. 25, 2019
Dear Friends,
This week many Vandals gathered in our state’s largest city for what’s known as “Higher Education Week.” The University of Idaho had an opportunity to present to the Idaho Legislature’s Joint-Finance and Appropriations Committee, as well as the House and Senate education committees. The message I’m sharing is simple: As our state’s public, land-grant research university, U of I is excelling in its mission to serve students, conduct innovative research and scholarship, and connect with our communities. We are well-positioned to continue our success.
 
Gov. Brad Little set a positive tone for the week on Monday when he said, “A well-educated and well-trained population improves our overall prosperity as a state.” He also said, “I can tell you, unequivocally, a strong public education system attracts investment in new and existing businesses of all sizes. We all benefit from a strong economy.” At U of I, we believe higher education has an important role in promoting that broad-based prosperity.
 
The Governor’s Opportunity Scholarship investment recommendation – an additional $7 million, or 50 percent increase, for this need- and merit-based scholarship program – offers a chance to promote higher education participation and address our state’s “go-on” challenges. In FY 2018, some 1,780 applicants were eligible for Opportunity Scholarship support but did not receive it due to funding limitations. Too many, we think, may have decided that college was unaffordable.
 
We know that cost is a critical difference-maker for families considering college. And we believe it is so important to bring students to postsecondary education, in fact, that we are telling 500 qualified students that we believe they will be eligible for an Opportunity Scholarship Award. We’re willing to backstop that commitment with internal funds should they be necessary. We will put our money where our mouth is, as the saying goes. It is too important to our students and our state to do anything less.
 
During legislative budget-making, a number of agencies that are a part of U of I or closely connected to us also have the opportunity to share information about their programs. Our Agricultural Research and Extension Service, in our College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, fosters valuable research and educational opportunities, for instance at our new Rinker Rock Creek Ranch where we seek to understand the effect of grazing on rangeland. Our Forest Utilization Research program, the Idaho Geological Survey, Idaho WWAMI Medical Education Program and WIMU Veterinary-Medicine partnership also provide important research, services and educational experiences.

As I advocate for the university, I often point to the example of our alumni. Their success is the best possible ambassador for University of Idaho excellence. I enjoyed honoring our alumni at the Ada County Silver and Gold Celebration dinner last night. Each of our honorees, and in fact the whole group of Vandal friends and family, exemplify talent, hard work, and passion for service and involvement.
 
Next week we’ll have a special anniversary – 130 years since the University of Idaho’s founding. But we are not stuck in the past. We are forward-looking, intent on growing, learning and innovating. The future is very bright for Idaho’s public, land-grant research university.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
I was joined by a great team in Boise, including Provost and Executive Vice President John Wiencek, Vice President for Finance and Administration Brian Foisy, Vice President for Advancement Mary Kay McFadden, and Special Assistant Joe Stegner. We're proud to represent the Vandal Family!
Latest News from U of I

U of I Joins Effort Addressing Retention and Graduation

The University of Idaho has joined 129 other public universities in a new, collaborative initiative to enhance student success: Powered by Publics: Scaling Student Success. Sponsored by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, the initiative addresses college access, retention and graduation rates. Universities are clustered into smaller groups to more quickly implement best practices for student success. Addressing the retention and graduation rate of Idaho’s students is as important as the current statewide initiative to improve the rate at which students go on to higher education.

LCSC and U of I Collaborate on Accelerated Law Degree Program

Lewis-Clark State College students who want to pursue a law degree and are accepted into the University of Idaho College of Law will now have a quicker path to earn that degree thanks to a transfer articulation agreement between the two schools. LCSC students will have an opportunity to take part in the U of I College of Law’s 3+3 Program under the new agreement. That program allows undergraduate students to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a juris doctor in six years instead of seven. Upon completion of an LCSC student’s third year of undergraduate study in the pre-law interdisciplinary degree program, that student can begin their first year of the law degree program at the U of I College of Law — simultaneously fulfilling their last year of undergraduate studies and completing their first year of law school. The agreement, which went into effect Jan. 7, 2019, includes a course-to-course transfer equivalency guide, which will allow a seamless transfer of credits from the U of I College of Law to LCSC.

Study Shows Economic Boost from Eastern Idaho Reactor Plan

Construction of an electric power generation facility in eastern Idaho that would utilize a group of small modular reactors could significantly boost the regional and state economies and increase U.S. carbon-free energy development, according to an economic impact study completed by the University of Idaho and Boise State University. The study looks at the economic impact of a 720-megawatt power facility using 12 small modular nuclear reactors at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) site in southeast Idaho during the project’s four-year construction, as well as the ongoing impacts over its 40-year operations period. The Idaho Policy Institute at Boise State and the James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research at U of I completed the study at the request of economic development and industry groups. It notes the project would complement research activities at INL and enhance nuclear energy-related research and development in Idaho.

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Letter from the President
Jan. 18, 2019
Dear Friends,
Next week, higher education institutions gather to make presentations before the Idaho Legislature in Boise. This is an opportunity for the University of Idaho to share our story with elected representatives, connect with constituents and celebrate our outstanding alumni. I welcome the spotlight on our success as a great public research university.
 
The University of Idaho will update the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee on university progress, goals and key needs. I’ll remind our representatives why the University of Idaho remains such as solid investment, an experience that brings return many times over for our students. As Idaho’s land-grant institution, we’re also focused on research and scholarship that makes an impact for our state’s pressing needs in everything from water to clean energy to agriculture and natural resources.
 
Gov. Brad Little’s budget calls for continued investment in education. As an institution, we appreciate the commitment to a change in employee compensation (CEC) that will help us recruit and retain talented employees who shape the lives of students and contribute to communities. Continued investment in the Agricultural Research and Extension Service allows us to fulfill our historic and forward-looking mission in those critical areas as well.
 
The governor has also called to increase the state’s Opportunity Scholarship fund. In our efforts to increase college-going, it has become clear the barrier that cost presents for would-be students. Even as we seek to provide a strong value proposition of affordability and educational excellence, many qualified students feel priced out. I share the belief that a robust aid program – building on the commitments Governor Otter and previous Legislatures made – can help more students reach their potential through postsecondary education, wherever they choose to attend, and that such an investment can bolster our state's long-term fortunes.
 
Now, the university having worked with the State Board of Education to develop appropriations priorities, and the governor having issued his budget, my job going forward is largely to inform and advocate. The presentations next week – I’ll also go before the House and Senate education committees – are one piece of that work. Over the next several months, our elected representatives will do their best to balance the needs and priorities of publicly funded agencies against available revenue. I appreciate the spirit of service that informs that often unglamorous work.
 
Next Thursday night, we’ll convene in downtown Boise at our annual Ada County Silver and Gold dinner. It’s a great honor to celebrate Silver and Gold winners Blair Wilson ’79 and Crystal Wilson ’97, ’04, ’09 (no relation). Blair is a College of Agricultural and Life Sciences graduate who has served Idaho agricultural communities for 40 years with Northwest Farm Credit Services. Crystal has built a long and impactful career in nutrition, health and wellness. Our Jim Lyle Award winner is Kelly Wood ’83, a first-generation college student whose career includes corporate leadership and financial advising. We’ll also posthumously award Honorary Alumnus status to William “Bill” Hamilton, who was always proud to be known as a Vandal. Congratulations to all on these well-deserved awards.
 
I’ll enjoy seeing the silver and gold show up in force in our state capital. Thank you to the Vandals and to all our friends for making the week meaningful. 
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Tafts Support College of Business and Economics

Gene Taft ’84 and his wife Tammy’s support of the Harley Johansen Memorial Scholarship Endowment tracks back to Gene’s final year on campus. Johansen, the head of the Geography Department, encouraged Taft to pursue a graduate program in mineral economics, a turning point that led to lifelong success in business. Taft’s engagement with U of I also includes support of the Idaho Entrepreneurs Program in the College of Business and Economics, where he’s helped the program grow through financial contributions, service as a judge for the Idaho Pitch and Business Plan competitions, and volunteer work as an entrepreneur in residence to help coach student entrepreneurship teams. “Having started up numerous businesses, I appreciate the education, values and network provided by U of I in my own success,” Taft said. “I’m now able to use those experiences and rewards to assist budding Vandal entrepreneurs. The program encourages and incorporates coaching and mentoring from experienced graduates, which makes my contributions more personal and gratifying.” For more information on giving to the College of Business and Economics, contact Brian Mitchell at bdmitchell@uidaho.edu or 208-885-2634.

29th Annual Vandal Scholarship Fund Gala Returns Feb. 7 in Boise

The largest fundraising event for the Vandal Scholarship Fund is the annual Gala, set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at Boise Centre – East. The Gala celebrates its 29th anniversary this year – thanks to the generous community members and businesses in the Treasure Valley. The event includes a cocktail and social hour, silent and live auctions, gourmet dinner and a program featuring Head Football Coach Paul Petrino. Purchase your tickets online today.

U of I-Led Study Finds Evidence of Changing Seasons, Rain on Titan’s North Pole

An image from the international Cassini spacecraft provides evidence of rainfall on the north pole of Titan, the largest of Saturn’s moons. The rainfall would be the first indication of the start of a summer season in the moon’s northern hemisphere. A team of scientists led by University of Idaho doctoral student Rajani Dhingra and Department of Physics Associate Professor Jason Barnes published their findings Wednesday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Dhingra and her colleagues, who represent 12 other institutions and universities, identified a reflective feature near Titan’s north pole on an image taken June 7, 2016, by Cassini’s near-infrared instrument, the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer. The reflective feature covered approximately 46,332 square miles, roughly half the size of the Great Lakes, and did not appear on images from previous and subsequent Cassini passes. Analyses of the short-term reflective feature suggested it likely resulted from sunlight reflecting off a wet surface. The study attributes the reflection to a methane rainfall event, followed by a probable period of evaporation.

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Letter from the President
Jan. 11, 2019
Dear Friends,
Recently the world watched as NASA’s New Horizons probe explored the farthest reach of the solar system yet visited by a man-made object. The photos of Ultima Thule, a snowman-shaped projectile 4 billion miles from Earth, have renewed an interest in science and discovery and can help us understand the early origins of the solar system. And one of our own Vandal students was a part of it.
 
Doctoral student Rajani Dhingra was part of the team of 30 scientists at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory who are analyzing images coming back from New Horizons. A student in Professor Jason Barnes’ physics laboratory, Dhingra also recently had a paper accepted about the rains on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. As she completes her thesis, she’s looking at postdoctoral research opportunities.
 
I’m excited about that bright future. Dhingra exemplifies the intelligence and curiosity our Vandals bring to their passions, whether in the farthest reaches of space or here on Earth. She also represents the incredible opportunities that students – graduate or undergraduate – can participate in at our great public research university.
 
Another Vandal exemplifies the life of service University of Idaho graduates can aspire to. This week I was proud to attend the first State of the State address from newly inaugurated Gov. Brad Little. Little is a 1977 graduate of our College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, a Phi Delta Theta member, a third-generation rancher, and a longtime public servant.
 
In his inaugural speech, the governor quoted Louise McClure, the wife of late Sen. James McClure and together the namesake of our James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research. Little mentioned that in Louise’s 2014 U of I Commencement address – actually my first Commencement as president – she urged listeners to “be ethical in all things.” I know the governor takes that message to heart. We look forward to working with him to improve education in Idaho and help the state meet its goals for bolstering educational success. 
 
There are many other Vandal success stories from just the past month since our previous Friday Letter. Our collaborative efforts on burbot recovery in the Kootenai River have been lauded. Grades from fall semester show our student-athletes made another strong effort in the classrooms. And former football coach Dennis Erickson, who led the Vandals to four straight winning seasons and a Big Sky Conference championship, was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
 
As we embark on this new semester, I hope all Vandals – students, faculty and staff, alumni and friends – will be inspired by the U of I success found across endeavors. The term Ultima Thule, in fact, is an old mapmaking reference to a distant, unknown place. Each of us has some personal voyage to such a destination – that’s part of education, part of research and scholarship. And together, there is no limit to what we discover or where we can go.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

College of Engineering Emergency Fund Helps Students in Need

Frankie Bautista had near-perfect attendance, so when he started missing classes, his professors knew something was wrong. They discovered an apartment fire had left Bautista with just a few clothes and no place to stay. He slept in his car for a night, and his parents, migrant farmworkers in Parma, drove up to stay with him in a hotel. “My parents never went to school, so they wanted me to go to college to live the dream they didn’t get a chance to live,” Bautista said. But six days after the fire, staying at U of I was becoming financially unfeasible. Bautista’s advisor connected him to the College of Engineering Emergency Fund, an account started by longtime engineering supporters Linda ’62 and Bob ’64 Parkinson and sustained by an endowment. The fund helps students with short-term, unexpected circumstances that threaten a student’s ability to graduate. For more information on supporting the College of Engineering Emergency Fund and other initiatives, contact Bobbi Hughes, College of Engineering executive director of advancement, at bhughes@uidaho.edu or 208-885-5303.

Burbot Makes Spectacular Rebound in Kootenai River

From the Spokane Spokesman-Review: In the early 2000s, the world’s only freshwater cod was all but gone from the waters of the Kootenai River in North Idaho and British Columbia. Once counted in the thousands, regional populations of burbot – sometimes known as ling cod – had dropped to a mere 50. Today, that number is closer to 50,000. The fish’s spectacular rebound stems from a collaborative restoration effort by fisheries, communities, academics and state officials, along with the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho and the Bonneville Power Administration. As a result, a decade and a half after facing extinction, “The Leopards of the Kootenai” are back on the menu. With regional populations hovering between 40,000 and 50,000 in the Kootenai, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission announced last week that a burbot fishing season had been approved as part of its fishing rules for 2019-21. It’s the first time since 1992 that fishing for burbot has been greenlighted by state officials. Read more.

Student-Athlete GPAs Above 3.0 for 10th Straight Semester

University of Idaho student-athletes achieved a department GPA of 3.09 in fall 2018, the 10th consecutive semester with a 3.0 or better. Of Idaho's 16 teams, 12 posted at least a 3.0 GPA, with two programs setting all-time records. Women's tennis posted a 3.81 team GPA, the second-highest in program history and third-highest in department history (GPA records date back to 2000). Women's swimming and diving posted a 3.66 GPA – the best single-semester mark since the program’s 2004 reinstatement – led by 27 student-athletes with a 3.0 or higher, including nine with a perfect 4.0. Women's soccer secured its highest semester team GPA on record with a 3.65; 28 student-athletes had at least a 3.0, and 11 had a 4.0. Women's cross country (3.73), women's track and field (3.67) and women's basketball (3.5) also posted at least a 3.5 team GPA. Football featured a department-best 35 student-athletes at or above a 3.0. In all, 190 Vandal student-athletes scored at least a 3.0 GPA, and 51 earned a 4.0.

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Letter from the President
Dec. 7, 2018
Dear Friends,
The first degrees earned by University of Idaho students were awarded 122 years ago, in 1896. The first graduating class included two women and two men. Times were different: Commencement proceedings stretched out over four days, with speeches from the president, from the agricultural college dean, from future Sen. William H. Borah. A musical concert and other informal gatherings took place. Each 1896 graduate actually had to deliver an oration before receiving his or her degree.
 
None of our 578 graduates tomorrow will have to deliver a speech – they’ve done plenty of public speaking over their Vandal careers. But the class of 1896 had a Commencement motto that I think bears continued relevance: “Not finished, but begun.” That understanding of tomorrow’s event as a beginning, not a conclusion, is still a very useful way of thinking about the distance traveled so far and the journey yet ahead.
 
And make no mistake, our students have traveled quite a distance. A student in the College of Business and Economics, Nick Bonds, is graduating with not one major, not two, not three, but four majors. Along the way, he also completed a minor in statistics, a certificate in entrepreneurship, a graduate certificate in human resource development and half the coursework for his planned master’s program. What I appreciate most about Nick’s accomplishments, though, is not the raw accumulation of credentials, but his bright and genial contributions across the range of his pursuits – inquisitive, not acquisitive, and engaged, earnest and passionate about learning, growing and giving.
 
Nick is from Idaho. But other graduates have joined us from farther away. Graduate Leanna Keleher, from Alaska, is receiving degrees in sociology and child and youth development. She plans to center her graduate research on preventing and stopping parental abuse and neglect. What could be more important than improving how we keep our children safe?
 
Mia Nakayama, a first-generation college student working on her second bachelor’s degree, this one in mechanical engineering, joined the Vandal Family from even farther away – Japan. A graduate of the College of Engineering’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program, Mia’s work examined the economics of wind turbines. She’s interested in how infrastructure contributes to a company’s success, and will have a chance to apply her skills, passion and experience right away at a job she has lined up with an industrial engineering company.
 
We have many more stories of Vandal success this winter – read through them at our Commencement website. Each of our graduates has a unique story to tell of obstacles overcome, interests explored and potential unleashed. I recently heard University of California President Janet Napolitano explain that “It is our obligation to be great.” That’s a standard of excellence we’ve lived out for many years at the University of Idaho; it’s also a standard that is embodied by our students and renewed with each graduating class.
 
I look forward to seeing what challenges our graduates take on, what changes they spur, what new heights they inspire. How will they direct their obligation to be great? That work has just begun.
 
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Chobani Scholars at the University of Idaho

The Chobani Scholars, a multi-year scholarship program and the first of its kind at the U of I, is dedicated to helping educate the next generation of dairy professionals. Funded by a $168,000 commitment from the Chobani Foundation, this exciting program awards a $20,000 scholarship, spread over four years, to eight eligible students beginning college in 2019 and 2020. Priority is given to students from the Magic Valley, where the Chobani company operates the world’s largest yogurt plant. “As an independent food company with deep ties to our dairy communities, it’s important to us all that we do everything we can to support the next generation of dairy farmers,” said Michael Gonda, Chobani’s senior vice president of corporate affairs. “The Chobani Foundation’s mission is to strengthen the communities we call home, which makes this investment in the future of farmers so important. We can’t wait to meet the Chobani Scholars and welcome them into our family.” For information on supporting the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, please contact Jen Root at jroot@uidaho.edu or 208-885-4087.

Janet Nelson Named 2018 AAAS Fellow

University of Idaho Vice President for Research and Economic Development Janet E. Nelson was named a 2018 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for her contributions to the field of chemistry. Nelson is one of 416 fellows named this year. The honor, one of the most prestigious given to scientists in the United States, was formally announced in the journal Science. Nelson, who also serves as a professor of chemistry at U of I, is the sole awardee this year from an Idaho institution of higher education. The AAAS Council elected Nelson for her distinguished contributions to the field of inorganic chemistry and for her national leadership across academia, government, not-for-profit organizations and industry communities. “Janet has dedicated more than 30 years of her life to the advancement of scientific research and research policy,” said U of I President Chuck Staben. “She is an accomplished leader and a driving force behind the University of Idaho’s commitment to the land-grant mission. We are proud to see her earn this well-deserved recognition.”

U of I Study Predicts Increase in Global List of Threatened Plant Species

More than 15,000 plant species have a high probability of being considered threatened or near-threatened under a new model used to predict conservation status. The model, which shows the predicted levels of risk to plants worldwide, was published as part of a study to help governments and resource managers evaluate where conservation resources are most needed. Findings from the model, built by a research team from the University of Idaho, University of Maryland, Radford University and The Ohio State University, were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species is a powerful tool for researchers and policymakers working to limit species loss across the globe. A new approach developed at U of I and The Ohio State University uses the power of machine learning and open-access data to predict plant species that could be eligible for at-risk status on the IUCN Red List.

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

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Honoring Clem Parberry with Scholarship Support

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

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

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

Short and Sweet Talks Highlight Global Reach

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

Forest Fire Smoke Focus of U of I Study

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

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

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Supporting the Magic of Student Media

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

MOSS Program Wins National Award

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

Researchers Publish Nature Comment on Coexisting with Fire

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

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

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

The Wright Stuff: Endowed Scholarship Support

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

U of I Researchers Examine Milk Production Disease

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

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

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

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

Chuck Staben
President
Latest News from U of I

Marching to the Beat of Philanthropy

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

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

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

U of I Awards More Than $25 Million in Scholarships

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

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

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

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

Rooted in Vandal Country, Growing the Future 

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

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

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

Moscow No. 1 Place in America to Raise a Family

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

Share Your Vandal Marching Band Story

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

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Letter from the President
Oct. 19, 2018
Dear Friends,
Homecoming is a special time at the University of Idaho. I’m proud to welcome our alumni back for an exciting weekend of festivities, and I’m glad to see our students embrace the spirit of the weekend.  While we enjoy the celebration, we also have some work to do – many alumni are participants on U of I advisory boards, lending their time, talent and treasure to drive U of I excellence and progress.
 
There are many ways alumni contribute to success for students, to innovation and discovery that changes the world, and to engagement that sustains healthy and prosperous communities. I’ll talk to our advisory boards – the extended leadership network for our institution – about the progress we’re making on our Strategic Plan and the challenges we have to tackle. Each college or unit – like the Library or the Idaho WWAMI Medical Education Program – is in a position to take on a bite-sized piece of the Strategic Plan. We’ll need the advice and advocacy of our extended leadership to make that work successful.
 
As our alumni gather on campus, I want to thank them for their generosity in financial terms to the University of Idaho. The support of alumni, as well as other friends of the university, industries in Idaho and elsewhere, and an array of other generous organizations, has meant another record year for giving to the university. In fact, FY18’s total of $42,666,652 represented a second consecutive annual record.  A total of 10,437 donors contributed – every single one a vote of confidence in the life-changing work of the University of Idaho.
 
We honored that generosity last night at our annual Silver and Gold Gala, including the recognition of 47 Vandal friends and alumni who joined our Silver and Gold Society. We have six inductees into the