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Presidential Memos

Memos and other communications from University of Idaho President C. Scott Green and his leadership team are sent periodically to the university community.

TO:  Moscow-Based Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Sept. 21, 2020
SUBJECT:  COVID-19 Efforts Continuing to Show Compliance by Most 


As we enter the fifth week of classes, it is important that we recognize and appreciate how people doing the right thing can make a significant difference to the health of our community. Because our personal decisions do impact others, each of us doing our part will help keep our campus safer and allow us to continue our in-person classes until Thanksgiving break. Last week we tested many who traveled over Labor Day weekend and found 4.71% tested positive, an increase over previous weeks.

For those who traveled, some have inadvertently and unknowingly brought the virus back to Moscow. Our testing results for last week found 25 primarily asymptomatic, positive cases in students and employees residing both on and off campus. While we asked everyone to stay in Moscow, not everyone did. We are grateful to those who followed our request to be tested after traveling and want to encourage everyone to continue to make good decisions. For those who traveled and have not yet tested, we strongly recommend that you do before returning to classes. There is no defense for those who travel out of our community, then return and, as a result of not being tested, infect others.

Because there is a minimum six-day incubation period for this virus, if you traveled the weekend after Labor Day (Sept. 12-13), you should test this week. Choosing avoidance over doing what is right is not what Vandals do. We expect more from each other. Sign up for free testing available at the Student Recreation Center (SRC), Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 23-24. Email covid19questions@uidaho.edu with any questions.

Surveillance testing continues this week with a focus on Athletics, ROTC, some sororities, and students or employees who recently traveled. As part of the overall surveillance testing, we are developing a protocol to randomly identify students and employees each week to find and isolate asymptomatic cases. When it’s time for you to participate, you will receive an email from covid19questions@uidaho.edu with instructions.

Since we started our official COVID-19 testing on Aug. 6, we have completed approximately 9,000 tests, and the overall percent of positives is 1.32%. We have eight students currently residing in our isolation facility. A big thank you for the efforts made by our students, staff and faculty to keep us on track. We have nine more weeks until Thanksgiving break, and we can’t let our guard down for a moment. It is not lost on us that October was the worst month for the Spanish Flu pandemic in the early part of the last century. As we move back indoors, we need to be even more vigilant about adhering to the Healthy Vandal Pledge. Please continue wearing your face covering, social distance, wash your hands, and, if asked, participate in ongoing surveillance testing. If you show symptoms, please call the Vandal Health Clinic. If you don’t need to leave Moscow, I strongly encourage you to stay here until Thanksgiving break. Also, be mindful that Pullman and WSU are still responding to a severe COVID-19 outbreak. Please limit your time in Whitman County.

We truly are all in this together, so please continue to do your part. For more information on the U of I COVID-19 response, visit our website or email any questions to covid19questions@uidaho.edu.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Sept. 14, 2020
SUBJECT:  Our COVID-19 Efforts Are Paying Off – Keep It Up 


Now that we are beginning our fourth week of classes, I want to reflect on what we have accomplished together and outline the hard work that needs to continue for us to remain in person until Thanksgiving break.

Testing for Those Who Traveled Over Labor Day Weekend

Gritman Medical Center has been a valuable partner, and I can’t express enough gratitude to their leadership and staff. Their nurses swabbed each person who took part in the university’s in-house testing program and will swab many more before Thanksgiving break. They will be at the Student Recreation Center (SRC) Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 15-16 to swab anyone who traveled over Labor Day weekend. For those who traveled, some may have inadvertently and unknowingly brought the virus back to campus. We know it is not convenient, but I ask that you do the right thing and sign up for testing this week if you traveled over the long weekend. It is important we all continue to participate in testing to contain the spread of this highly contagious virus.

What We’ve Accomplished

Since we started our official COVID-19 testing Aug. 6, the university has completed over 8,500 tests, and the overall percent of positives remains at 1.11%. I am grateful for the efforts our students, staff and faculty have made to get us off to a good start. We all want to remain open and are willing to make sacrifices to support our world-class faculty who provide students transformational educational experiences. I also appreciate the modeling experts at our own Institute for Modeling Collaboration and Innovation (IMCI). They predicted a 1.06% positivity rate for our initial screening, and the actual number was 1.08%. The IMCI team was pivotal in our preliminary screening and planning, and we continue to use their expertise as we transition to surveillance testing.

Not only is this testing helpful to the University of Idaho, but also for our community. Because we are the only institution in the state with a lab with these kind of testing capabilities, we will be able to provide additional COVID-19 testing for our region during the winter flu season.

Since the beginning of testing the university has housed a total of 31 students in our on-campus isolation area and currently have only four students residing there. We have audited and confirmed 100% testing compliance from students living in Housing and Residence Life. In addition, the entries on the daily lists of students ineligible to attend class are dwindling as we settle into the semester. Faculty members recently helped the university move over 250 students from the list who still identified as needing to be tested, confirming with us that the students have made alternative arrangements, including participating in their classes remotely.

More than 1,000 people per day have gone through thermal scanners at the Wallace Complex (The HUB) and the ISUB Food Court, where people take their masks off to eat. Fever is a symptom of COVID-19 and is also a symptom of many other flus and head colds, so the thermal scanners are not just preventing symptomatic COVID-19 carriers from entering, but those suffering from other contagious illnesses. To date, only one person had to be turned away after failing the secondary testing. This is an encouraging indicator of health and a positive sign that people who are not feeling well are being responsible and staying away from the food courts. Again, our employees and students are doing the right thing.

Our custodial and building staff have been diligent in making sure the Healthy Vandals sanitizer and disinfectant are refilled and readily available across campus, including in the over 80 conference and event spaces converted into classrooms. We have tripled the number of Zoom-capable classrooms and increased the frequency of cleanings in heavy-use spaces. PPE has been distributed to employees and students and the university has ordered face mask extenders as requested by faculty. If you would like a face mask extender, please email covid19questions@uidaho.edu. Extra face coverings are available to students free of charge thanks to generous donations by U of I alumni and can be picked up at the Dean of Students Office in the ISUB.

Compliance with the Healthy Vandal Pledge has been strong. From Aug. 16 until now, there have only been eight calls to Campus Security from concerned faculty and staff about lack of compliance regarding COVID-19 protocols – the majority of which were complaints about face coverings not being worn outdoors. In addition, Moscow Police told us they have observed very high face covering compliance on campus. Thank you to all employees and students for doing your part.

Surveillance Testing

Several efforts are underway to continue COVID-19 monitoring. The university started surveillance testing earlier than planned due to the outbreak in neighboring Whitman County and will continue this testing until Thanksgiving break. Surveillance testing means sampling a subset of our U of I community each week to understand and respond to any potential spread of COVID-19 on the Moscow campus. The goal of continued testing throughout the semester is to identify students and employees who tested negative when arriving on campus but who have since contracted COVID-19 and may be asymptomatic. Identifying and isolating positive cases helps keep our campus healthy while ensuring our colleagues and classmates get the dedicated support and care they need.

Zero positive cases resulted from subsequent testing of 168 student-athletes this past week. This illustrates the dedication of Athletic Director Terry Gawlik, Director of Athletic Training Services Chris Walsh, coaches and student-athletes. Athletics staff members have worked hard over the summer and into the fall to transition student-athletes back to campus in a responsible manner and provide the environment needed for practice, team activities and learning. The university learned a lot from their efforts.

U of I employees living in Whitman County were recently invited to test again due to the exceptionally high infection rate there. Despite the difficulty of controlling the outbreak in Whitman County, the number of positive cases identified was low. This is yet another example of the commitment of our employees to engage in safety protocols.

Researchers in the College of Engineering are also conducting wastewater sampling of eight locations on campus for early detection of COVID-19. Wastewater testing is one tool to help monitor on-campus residence halls and apartments, as well as Greek Row. This sampling prompted follow-up testing of students in two residence halls and identified six new positive cases.

Next Steps

I am very appreciative of all the hard work to get us here, including all the preparation at centers and Extension offices across the state. But the work is not done. There are 10 more weeks until Thanksgiving break and we can’t let our guard down. One super-spreader event could undo this success. Please continue to wear your face covering, social distance, wash your hands and participate in ongoing surveillance testing if asked. If you show symptoms, please call the Vandal Health Clinic at 208-885-6693. If you don’t need to leave Moscow, I encourage you to stay here until Thanksgiving. Also, be mindful that Pullman and WSU are having a severe COVID-19 outbreak. If possible, limit your time in Whitman County until they have contained their spread of the virus.

Again, if you traveled over Labor Day weekend, please get tested this week. We are all in this together and what we have accomplished thus far is testimony to the Brave and Bold Vandal Family culture that has been our hallmark for generations. For more information on the U of I COVID-19 response visit the COVID-19 website or email questions to covid19questions@uidaho.edu.

Keep Calm and Vandal On. 

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Moscow-Based Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Sept. 13, 2020
SUBJECT:  U of I Moscow Campus Closed Sept. 14 Due to Poor Air Quality 


The Moscow campus of the University of Idaho will be closed to business and all classes and events canceled on Monday, Sept. 14. Students, faculty and staff here are encouraged to stay home and avoid outdoor activities. The safety and wellbeing of our community members are core values in the Vandal community.

The HUB, Papa John’s, Joe’s Cheesy Grill and the Grid will be open for food service.

Wildfire smoke continues to pose an air quality problem in much of the Northwest. Air quality conditions deteriorated significantly over the past 48 hours and are currently unhealthy. Air quality will vary in the coming days in the Moscow area between good, unhealthy and hazardous depending on wind and time of day. When air quality is in the very unhealthy or hazardous range, all groups should avoid physical activity outdoors.

All Moscow-based employees, including exempt employees, should report time as Emergency Closure in VandalWeb.

Air quality information can be found on the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality website, but please note that air conditions can change quickly. The university will continue to monitor air quality conditions and will notify the university community if conditions worsen. Other University of Idaho locations (Coeur d’Alene, Boise, Idaho Falls, and research and Extension sites) will make their own closure decisions based on the air quality conditions of their area.

Anyone with symptoms of lung or heart disease that may be related to excess smoke exposure, including repeated coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, heart palpitations, nausea, unusual fatigue or lightheadedness, should contact health care provider or the Vandal Health Clinic at 208-885-6693.

The Moscow campus will re-open Tuesday, Sept. 15 and all classes held as usual unless further communication is received. Please watch for Vandal Alert text messages for urgent updates. If you did not receive the text alert about Monday’s closure, please update your settings in VandalWeb.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Moscow-Based Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  Sept. 8, 2020
SUBJECT:  Surveillance and Wastewater Testing Provide Data


Surveillance testing for COVID-19 is underway at the University of Idaho. Several tools are helping us better understand where to focus our efforts.

As cases in Whitman County grew last week, we offered testing to all Whitman County employees. In addition, we tested random samples of students from Housing and Residence Life, Greek Life and off-campus housing. We will continue to invite students, faculty and staff to participate in this testing. If you receive an email request, please consider participating.

A team of U of I researchers worked this summer to develop methods of testing wastewater for coronavirus. With the help of Facilities staff, a sampling of eight specific on-campus living areas began last week. Results show that two areas within the residence halls showed evidence of the virus. While we expected to find some level of the virus due to prior-known positives (those who had the virus earlier this year), out of an abundance of caution we will test all students in those two residence hall areas.

Students in affected locations were notified of the results Saturday, reminded to diligently follow safety measures, and told to look for testing details. They will be tested this week with all results available by Friday. Public Health confirmed that quarantine is not necessary for these students; however, we have asked them to participate in their courses via remote delivery where possible and we ask faculty to support them with these requests.

As before, any student who tests positive will be contacted by a physician and Public Health and instructed to isolate. Contact tracing will follow. The university will provide additional support to students who live in university residences and are instructed to isolate (positive test result) or quarantine (direct contact, according to Public Health).

We will continue to test wastewater twice weekly. Results will focus our individual testing efforts and increase our ability to isolate infection of students living on campus.

All community members should continue to follow safety measures outlined in the Healthy Vandal Pledge. If you have any questions, please email covid19questions@uidaho.edu.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Moscow-Based Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Sept. 1, 2020
SUBJECT:  COVID-19 Testing Results and Future Plans 


It is great to see students back on campus. We are hearing many positive reports of students and faculty grateful to be back in the classroom. Our challenge now is to keep those in-person classes viable.

Yesterday we posted test results from last week to the COVID-19 website. Weekly testing results will continue to be posted on the site. We have processed over 7,700 tests and have experienced a 1.08% positive infection rate. Because we tested every student and hundreds of employees, it is inevitable that there has been a reported increase of COVID-19 cases in Latah County.

The good news is these students and employees, most of whom were asymptomatic, were identified, isolated and received care. We currently have three students being cared for in our on-campus isolation unit. While there are still approximately 50 students who have tested and are awaiting clearance, and some students still arriving to campus (many WWAMI students will likely arrive this week), testing of students and employees has been largely completed.

Our lab will remain open until the viral threat is diminished. As we shift to surveillance sampling, lab capacity will also support testing in the region. If you experience any COVID-19 symptoms, do not go to class or work, please quarantine and contact the Vandal Health Clinic at 208-885-6693 to coordinate getting tested at Gritman’s Martin Wellness Center. You should quarantine until you have the results. If you need transportation to the drive-through testing site, sign up online. For other testing questions please email covid19questions@uidaho.edu.

Because of Labor Day travel, we planned to begin surveillance testing the week of Sept. 13, but as we monitor the rise in infection rate in Whitman County, we may begin surveillance testing sooner. We are working with our modeling team to determine both the process and the number of samples to take each week.

Our model of the risks of COVID-19 at the University of Idaho is just one tool being used to assess ways to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 for our students, staff and faculty while on campus. The model itself uses an epidemiological compartment model that has been overlaid onto the U of I community. From there, we will update model parameters based on our ongoing data screening to predict the expected burden of COVID-19 in the coming weeks. We will also use the model to assess COVID-19 surveillance testing strategies — such as a thorough post-Labor Day round of tests — and how those strategies might benefit U of I by preventing a severe outbreak. We will continue updating the model throughout the semester with the latest data to provide the best forecasts for our community. We understand there is great interest in surveillance testing. Information will be updated regularly on the COVID-19 website.

As a reminder, we strongly encourage students to remain in Moscow until the Fall Break, including over Labor Day. If you do travel over Labor Day, we ask that you arrange to be tested again no sooner than six days after your return (the incubation period for the virus is 6-14 days, so you may have it, but you may test negative if you test too early) or at the first sign of COVID-19 symptoms. Contact covid19questions@uidaho.edu for help scheduling a non-symptomatic testing appointment. With the significant increase in infection rate in Pullman, we appreciate your heightened observance of Healthy Vandal protocols. Whitman County has had 350 cases and climbing in the past 10 days — this is significantly more than we had in our entire initial screening. Care and caution should be taken by all employees and students as these are our colleagues, friends and neighbors and many members of our campus community live in Whitman County. We owe it to each other to act responsibly.

Again, it is great to see everyone back on campus and complying with the Healthy Vandal Pledge. We do sincerely appreciate your continued diligence to keep our campus safe.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Moscow-Based Students 
CC: Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President
Blaine Eckles, Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
DATE:  Aug. 21, 2020
SUBJECT:  It is Up to You to Keep our Campus Open


Just three days ago, we communicated to you how important your help is to keep our campus safe and open. In that short time frame, however, we have had reports of several troubling events including parties, on-campus and off, where appropriate social distancing was not kept, and face coverings were not worn. To the vast majority of our students who are complying with the Healthy Vandal Pledge, thank you. To the few who have not, your continued behavior will put our entire community at risk. Your behavior diminishes the hard work conducted all summer to prepare for your arrival. Faculty and staff have invested thousands of hours into making opening our campus possible, and your actions endanger the ability of your peers to get the live instruction they are working hard to secure.

Several campuses have already closed after experiencing superspreader infections from large gatherings, including North Carolina State University and Notre Dame. Many others have begun suspending students, including St. Olaf College (17 students), Syracuse University (23 students), Virginia Tech (seven students), Purdue University (36 students) and Radford University (three students). Frankly, if you are not willing to support our university and those who want an in-person instruction environment, you should not be here, and we will take the necessary steps to remove you from our community.

Our Dean of Students Office and the Moscow Police Department are following up on these off-campus parties. We will place students into our disciplinary process who flagrantly violate city ordinances and institutional policy which, if found responsible, could lead to suspension or expulsion. Where we identify a fraternity or sorority chapter engaging in similar conduct, we will hold these organizations accountable through the Fraternity and Sorority Life disciplinary processes that could lead to relocating first-year students out of the house or even closure of the chapter.

We promise those thousands of students who want to be here: we will fight hard to keep our campus open. We need your help by keeping the Healthy Vandal Pledge and helping us identify and separate those who do not.

We have only one chance to get this right. Please keep that in mind this weekend and as you continue through the semester. Students, we have your back... now it’s time to do your part.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

Blaine Eckles
Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

deanofstudents@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/dean-of-students

TO:  University of Idaho Moscow-Based Students
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Aug. 18, 2020
SUBJECT:  Our Success Begins with Your Leadership


Welcome back to campus! We have been working hard all summer for the start of classes and are prepared. This has been a fall like no other, and I expect we will continue to be challenged to provide the learning experience we have delivered for over 130 years, and that you expect.

We hope you are familiar with our plans to do all we can to reasonably protect our campus and community. That begins with testing all of you before you participate in in-person classes. We are also encouraging faculty and staff who have traveled out of our community to test as well, although this is not mandatory. As of this morning, we have received results back on 3,694 tests, have 1,000 samples currently being processed and have another 3,000 scheduled to be swabbed over the next week. Positive tests are running at 0.97% of those tested. Most of the employees and students who tested positive live off campus and are isolating in their homes. However, we have five students who live on campus and are receiving care in our on-campus isolation facility.

Our new lab, opened in partnership with Gritman Medical Center, is now testing samples as they arrive from the swabbing site. Getting this lab up and running has been a Herculean effort but worth it. Few universities in the country have the capability we now have.

Despite having tested each of you upon your return to Moscow, the single most effective tool we have against the virus is compliance with the Healthy Vandal Pledge. The cornerstone is that all students and employees will be required to wear face coverings while on campus. Face coverings work. It is also important that we are mindful of these practices when we leave campus. Notre Dame, which also tested every student, recently had an outbreak of 29 cases, all traced back to an off-campus party. Just today they announced they are moving to online-only delivery.

For our campus to remain open, we all need to take responsibility by showing our leadership, taking action when poor decisions are being made and looking out for the health of our fellow Vandals and those in our community. To be clear, if we fail, we will close the campus and students will be sent home. It is a daunting responsibility but one I know you will help us lead. Frankly, employees and students not willing to protect our community and each other should not be here. All Vandals, employees and students, need to avoid gatherings where social distancing cannot be practiced, particularly where face coverings are not worn. Moscow has a face covering mandate. If you identify such a gathering held without face coverings, please contact the Moscow Police Department at 208-885-2677.

We have a saying at our university, Keep Calm and Vandal On. In the face of adversity and anxiety, our team remained steady and focused on preparing our campus at a detailed level for the fall. We have worked tirelessly this summer to prepare for you, and I am proud of how our staff has responded. There are few, if any, universities that have done more to reasonably protect their communities. We are focused on you and doing all we can to ensure that, like those before us, we execute on our mission to provide the best learning environment possible. Now it is up to you, the next generation of Vandals, to help us remain open.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Moscow-Based Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Aug. 18, 2020
SUBJECT:  U of I Lab Up and Running as Students Return to Campus


We are all working hard preparing for the start of classes. This will be a fall like no other, and I expect we will continue to be challenged to provide the learning experience we have delivered on for over 130 years and that our students expect.

We have detailed our extensive plans to do all we can to reasonably protect our campus and community and that includes testing all of our students as they arrive on campus. Most of the COVID-19 testing in the country is done at private laboratories, and testing capacity in the state is limited.

To not be reliant on the variable turnaround times of private labs and to have a more fiscally efficient way to do ongoing testing throughout the academic year, we decided early on to set up our own lab. While we met all Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) standards over a week ago, we were required to meet some previously unknown criteria before our lab was authorized to begin analysis. Our lab is now testing samples as they arrive from our swabbing site. I cannot thank enough the entire U of I team including Dan New, Barrie Robison, Toni Broyles and the team at Gritman Medical Center for the Herculean effort to get this lab up and running. Few universities in the country have the capability we now have.

As of this morning, we have received results back on 3,694 tests, have 1,000 samples currently being processed, and have another 3,000 scheduled to be swabbed over the next week. We have an infectious rate of 0.97%. Most of the employees and students who tested positive live off campus and are isolating in their homes. However, we have five students who live on campus and are receiving care in our on-campus isolation facility.

Thanks to the leadership of Dan Ewart and Lindsey Brown, we will be providing instructors a daily report of students not eligible to be in the classroom. This list does not mean that a student has tested positive, rather it will likely mean that they have not been tested or have not received their results. We expect students who are not eligible at the beginning of classes to work remotely and I ask instructors to have patience with them. Those who might not have cleared will include international students we know will be arriving late, those who work in agriculture and are working a late harvest, and wildland firefighters.

Some of us will be challenged on enforcement of our policies. The provost provided guidance to faculty for handling ineligible students who arrive at class. If students, employees or visitors to our campus are not complying with the Healthy Vandal Pledge by wearing a face covering or other pledge standards, treat them with respect, and if they still refuse, call campus security.

Despite having tested all students on campus, our single most important tool to combat the virus is following the Healthy Vandal Pledge. The reality is that face coverings work. We have communicated with students and their families in emails and through town halls, making it clear what is at stake if the pledge is broken. We have worked tirelessly this summer to prepare for our students, and I am proud of how our faculty and staff have responded. I recognize that many on our team are exhausted from the extra work needed to prepare to open, but being Vandals, they just got it done. Let’s do our best to stay focused on our students and do all we can to ensure that, like those before us, we execute on our mission to provide the best learning environment possible. And as always:

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Aug. 11, 2020
SUBJECT:  Christopher T. Nomura Appointed Vice President for Research and Economic Development


I am pleased to announce the selection of Christopher T. Nomura as the Vice President for Research and Economic Development. The appointment is effective Oct. 1, 2020.

Christopher replaces Janet Nelson, who served in the position since 2016. Brad Ritts is serving as Interim Vice President, a position he has held since February. I am grateful to Brad for his commitment and excellent service to the university.

Christopher, who is tenured in the Department of Biology, comes to the University of Idaho from the State University of New York (SUNY) in the College of Environmental Science and Forestry, where he served as Vice President for Research and was a professor of biochemistry. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from University of California at Santa Cruz and his doctoral degree in biochemistry, microbiology and molecular biology at The Pennsylvania State University.

Christopher is an internationally recognized scientist/administrator with an outstanding record of publications, grantsmanship and student mentoring. He has more than 85 publications in top journals in his field in addition to book chapters, conference proceedings, new technology disclosures and popular press articles. Christopher serves on several editorial boards.

He is part of a multi-disciplinary research group whose interests span the fields of molecular microbiology, microbial physiology, metabolic engineering, protein engineering, biochemistry, synthetic chemistry, and polymer chemistry with a focus on producing sustainable materials. In his current position, he oversees McIntire-Stennis funding coming to SUNY that is designed to increase forestry research focused on production, utilization and protection of forestland; to train future forestry scientists; and to involve other disciplines in forestry research. This experience will serve him well as U of I is also the recipient of McIntire-Stennis funding.

Christopher has an outstanding record of mentoring high school students, undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs and visiting scientists. He currently oversees six graduate students in his laboratory and has strong international connections to the RIKEN Institute (Japan), Hubei University (China) and Centro Nacional Patagonico (Argentina).

Christopher has extensive experience fostering industry collaborations and working with national and international research funding agencies. He brings a wealth of talent, energy and new ideas to U of I.

Thank you to the search committee, led by Michael Parrella, Dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. We are happy to welcome Christopher into the Vandal Family.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Aug. 4, 2020
SUBJECT:  Schedule Your Time Slot Now | COVID-19 Testing


Testing is a key part of our Fall 2020 COVID-19 reopening plan, and we are making strides to ensure every Moscow-based University of Idaho student is tested before entering classrooms.

Testing will begin Thursday, Aug. 6, on the Moscow campus and is free of charge for Moscow-based students, faculty and staff. An assessment center has been set up at the Student Recreation Center to swab as many as 1,000 people per day in advance of fall classes. Please enter the SRC from the backside (north side) for the testing.

Anyone experiencing symptoms as defined by the CDC should cancel their appointment and contact Gritman Medical Center at 208-882-4511 to schedule a time to be tested at Gritman's drive-through testing site.

Time slots are available for first come, first serve sign-up by students and university employees through the online schedule program, which also includes a short questionnaire. Faculty and staff are encouraged to be tested in early August as we will be holding Aug. 13-21 for students only. The following dates are available:

  • Aug. 6-7: Students, Faculty and Staff
  • Aug. 10-12: Students, Faculty and Staff
  • Aug. 13-21: Students Only
  • Aug. 24-26: Faculty and Staff Only

Please bring a photo ID and the QR Code from the online sign-up to your testing appointment.

Those who test negative will receive an email within approximately 24-48 hours after the analysis is complete. Those who test positive will receive a phone call from a Gritman Medical Center physician. Gritman Medical Center — our testing partner — will also send those tested a link to complete the setup of Gritman’s Patient Portal. Finishing patient portal setup is not required to receive test results.

A negative test is required before students can enter a classroom in person. Testing is also required for all students who want to reside in university residence halls.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate and remain so until cleared by a negative test, doctor or Public Health. Students residing in residence halls will be moved to an isolation area on campus. Greek chapter facilities each have a plan for isolation in chapter houses. Off-campus students and employees should isolate in their homes.

The university will provide all faculty and staff a face covering in kits delivered to each department/unit. All students will receive kits with a mask and hand sanitizer, which they can pick up at the SRC testing site. Questions about the kits, or any topics related to U of I’s coronavirus response, can be sent to covid19questions@uidaho.edu.

The University of Idaho’s testing policy is unique and the latest accomplishment in a long-time partnership between the university and Gritman Medical Center. I’m grateful to Gritman for working with us on this valuable project. Testing, along with the University of Idaho’s face covering policy and other modifications for fall, will help provide a safer environment and a memorable experience for our students this semester.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  July 31, 2020
SUBJECT:  Jim Craig Named U of I General Counsel


I am pleased to announce that Jim Craig has been promoted to General Counsel after having served for the past four years as Deputy General Counsel for the University of Idaho. This appointment was effective July 1, but will be implemented over the next year as prior General Counsel Kent Nelson transitions into a Special Associate General Counsel role with the goal of retirement in June 2021.

Jim was raised in Idaho and graduated from Moscow High School. He has degrees from both the U of I College of Business and Economics and the U of I College of Law, and an LL.M. degree from the Washington College of Law at American University. He has worked as a law clerk for a Nez Perce County district judge and as a deputy prosecuting attorney for Valley and Latah counties, handling both criminal and civil matters. Prior to coming to U of I in 2016, Jim worked as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Orlando, Florida, for nearly eight years.

In 2015, he received the DHS Secretary’s Silver Medal Award, the second highest award given by the DHS Secretary to DHS employees, for his work on a high-profile human rights case.

Jim has provided effective and impactful guidance to the university during his time as deputy counsel, and I know his expertise will serve us well as we navigate the many challenges in higher education.

Jim is also an ardent Vandal. He plays in the Alumni Marching Band, and his oldest son will join the Vandal Family as a freshman this fall.

Thank you to both Jim and Kent for their dedication to U of I and to a smooth transition that will well-position the university.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  July 28, 2020
SUBJECT:  U of I Still Committed to In-Person Classes for Fall; Employee Town Hall Aug. 4


While we can appreciate the institution-specific factors that led to Washington State University’s decision last week to move to nearly all online course delivery for fall semester, let us emphasize that we are committed to be open for in-person classes this fall. This is only possible because we have made truly incredible progress working with healthcare experts and our partners at Gritman Medical Center to design specific safety protocols.

We continue to implement a uniquely robust set of safety measures — including required testing of all students — to provide effective learning and work environments and a campus that is as safe as possible for students, faculty and staff. More than 1,000 colleges and universities across the country plan to open with in-person classes this fall, including all four-year Idaho institutions and our competitors in Montana and Utah. While going on-line could make our job easier in some ways, it would be the worst possible outcome for many employees and students.

We understand the anxiety some feel about returning to work and class. Please join us from 8:30 to 10 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 4, for an Employee Town Hall meeting. We look forward to walking you through the details of our preparations and answering your questions. We will not only provide details about our plans, but also the impact to employees should we need to go back on-line during the semester. Participants must register ahead of time via Zoom. The town hall will be recorded and posted on the U of I COVID site after the event.

We look forward to seeing you Aug. 4.

Stay Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO: University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM: Scott Green, President
DATE: July 16, 2020
SUBJECT: Fall Plans to Deliver Classes, Including Schedule Change after Thanksgiving


While COVID-19 continues to dominate how we go about our day-to-day activities, I am pleased at the progress we have made in shaping our plans for fall semester at the University of Idaho.

We will be delivering excellent in-person education beginning Aug. 24. It will look a bit different, of course, and will require flexibility and agility by each of us. We are in uncharted territory with COVID-19, and we need to do everything we can to both prevent spread and to have an immediate response should spread of the virus take place in our community.

We each have an obligation to make our university as safe as possible. That is why we are requiring all faculty, staff and students to acknowledge the Healthy Vandal Pledge. When you log in to VandalWeb, you will be prompted to read and acknowledge that you understand our safety protocols set forth in the pledge. All faculty, staff, students and visitors are expected to follow these protocols.

We are aware of rising COVID-19 cases in our state and will continue to monitor the situation closely. We will continue to rely on data and the advice of our public health officials as we navigate delivery this fall. Everyone should be prepared for the unfortunate possibility that we may need to transition quickly to online/remote delivery should the data and advice from our public health officials change.

Schedule Change After Thanksgiving/No Winter Commencement

The most recent decision in our COVID-19 response involves instruction after Thanksgiving. Because comprehensive testing of all students is not realistic after Fall Break, and knowing many people leave during this break to visit other areas, possibly with higher instances of outbreak, we will end in-person class delivery on Friday, Nov. 20. Classes will resume on Monday, Nov. 30, using online/remote delivery exclusively. We do not intend to close any U of I location. Students wishing to return to the Moscow campus after the break to ensure the best academic outcomes may do so, and campus offices will remain open. Students residing in a fraternity or sorority chapter facility will receive guidance from their organization as to what post-Thanksgiving living options will look like. Students likely will be tested again in January for COVID-19 when returning for spring semester.

Fall semester final exams will be given online/remotely.

Unfortunately, this also means we will cancel Winter Commencement, scheduled for Dec. 12. In its place, we are planning a large commencement celebration for May 15, 2021, to honor all the students who have earned their degrees during the pandemic.

Working Remotely

All staff and faculty are expected to return to their regular work location by Aug. 1, unless they have an approved flexplace plan. Employees can work with Human Resources to request any change to regular work locations for Fall 2020 due to prior medical conditions, higher risk factors or other approved reasons. Filling out the online form will begin this process.

Classes

We are planning to deliver in-person learning in the fall for most classes. We are a destination campus, and students expect and deserve an in-person learning experience whenever possible. Enrollments are down across the country as students evaluate whether to sit out a semester or a year. The primary determination is whether there will be live instruction at their institution. Our preference is to provide direct student/instructor interaction and the interactions that come from being together on campus, even in unique ways.

In most cases, classes will have an in-person maximum of 50 percent classroom capacity. We ask that classrooms not be rearranged. It is not feasible to maintain 6 feet of distance in the classroom and meet our classroom demand, so masks are required in the classroom during the entire class session.

Information Technology Services (ITS) has equipped an additional 147 classrooms (220 total) with Zoom-capable technology. Providing class content in as many ways as possible is important to providing the education delivery students expect. Instructors will communicate with their students to ensure all are informed of necessary details about attendance schedules, online tools, course resources, etc. Students should communicate with their instructors if they are sick and unable to attend class.

Cleaning

More frequent cleaning of all public areas, including classrooms, will be a priority. But staffing and supply constraints won’t allow cleaning between every class. Cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer will be provided in every classroom, and you are encouraged to use them.

Face Coverings

Face coverings are required in all university buildings statewide. One cloth face covering will be provided to each faculty, staff and student upon return in the fall. Face coverings include cloth masks, bandanas, scarves or any other material that covers the nose and mouth.

All faculty, staff, students and visitors across all U of I locations must use face coverings whenever in any U of I buildings, with limited delineated exceptions or an approved accommodation from Human Resources or the Center for Disability Access and Resources.

Individuals who choose not to wear a face covering while in a campus building or in a class will be asked to don a face covering or exit the facility. Face coverings are required on campus in outdoor settings where 6 feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Faculty members must wear a face covering or face shield while teaching. Six feet of distancing should be maintained while wearing a shield. Shields for faculty can be requested online.

Testing

We will test Moscow-based students for COVID-19 as they return in August. The university is working with Gritman Medical Center to administer tests. Details about testing procedures will be sent in early August.

Students who test positive and live on campus will be isolated on campus in a facility away from other students and monitored by Idaho Public Health. Students living off campus are expected to quarantine in their own residence.

Staff and faculty, particularly those who have traveled outside our community, can ask to be tested, preferably before the testing of incoming students begins. More details will be available soon. Any staff or faculty member who tests positive is expected to quarantine according to CDC guidelines.

Faculty, staff, and students who work at U of I locations outside of Moscow should contact their local healthcare provider for testing options. U of I insurance through Blue Cross of Idaho covers COVID-19 testing as does the Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP).

Temperature Scanning

Prior to accessing some high-traffic buildings on the Moscow campus, you may be asked to have your temperature checked by walking through a thermal scanning device. Protocols for these machines are being developed, and more information will be communicated soon.

Reporting Positive COVID-19 Cases

If a fellow employee or student reveals to you a possible COVID-19 exposure or positive test results outside of our university testing, you should immediately file a VandalCARE report. These reports are monitored and distributed to the proper offices for follow-up and supportive response. Campus personnel have been trained by Idaho Public Health to provide support and response to those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Supervisors cannot share medical information with other employees. If someone is shown, through contact tracing, to have been exposed, those individuals will be contacted by Idaho Public Health or a member of the U of I contact tracing team.

Student Technology

A modern computing device is essential for completing online course components and finishing the semester while we are online-only after Fall Break. ITS provides recommended specifications for personally-owned devices. ITS also has a limited number of devices available for checkout to students. More information on checking out devices can be found on the ITS support portal.

Student computer labs will be open for the fall semester with appropriate social distancing in place. Specialty software is also available online for those unable to visit a physical lab. Please see the ITS support portal for more information.

Centers, Research Sites and Extension

Our statewide presence presents unique challenges as COVID-19 affects different areas of the state in different ways. Please work with your center executive or supervisor to ensure you are following local protocols.

Athletic Events

Fall is a prime time for sports at our university. Most of our fall-sport athletes are back on campus and are training, although with much different protocols. We are working with the NCAA and the Big Sky Conference to determine how fall sports will be administered and what the impact may be on spectators. More information will be released when it is known.

Coping During a Pandemic

I know these are challenging times, and we are all feeling pressure. Please remember mental health services are available if you are feeling overwhelmed. Faculty and staff can use the free and confidential EAP resources. Students are encouraged to contact the Counseling and Testing Center at 208-885-6716. If you are worried about a student or co-worker and are unsure of what to do, please file a VandalCARE report.

Website Resources

For more information, please visit the U of I Coronavirus website and review the FAQs. We continue to update this resource regularly. If your question is still unanswered, talk to your supervisor or file a VandalCare report. A comprehensive U of I re-opening plan will be available soon.

The task in front of us will be difficult at times, but I am confident that by coming together as a Vandal Family, looking out for one another and doing our part to deliver the stellar, in-person education we are known for, we can and will navigate through this together.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  July 6, 2020
SUBJECT:  Aug. 1 Commencement Canceled


Many communities across our state and region have seen spikes in COVID-19 cases. Some have taken a step back in their reopening plans including the city of Moscow, which is now requiring face coverings in public. This is a reminder that it is imperative we all work together to stay as safe and healthy as possible and why we continue to require face coverings in all of our buildings on campus and throughout the state.

A recent analysis of those who planned to attend the Aug. 1 Commencement ceremony revealed that over 40% would be traveling from counties in our region experiencing spikes in COVID-19 cases. Unlike our preparations for the fall where we will be testing students for COVID-19, we are not able to test all of the graduates, relatives and friends who would have been making the trip to Moscow. Because of this, we are canceling our Aug. 1 Commencement ceremony. We simply can’t risk bringing in hundreds of people from hotspots throughout the region for one weekend without the ability to identify those who may be ill — it isn’t fair to our community. We will, however, recognize the many accomplishments of the Spring and Summer 2020 graduates with personalized video messages and social media attention beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1.

In a few short weeks, we will welcome students back to campus for the fall semester. We will test all of our students as they return to the Palouse, giving us a baseline to work from. We have detailed plans for isolating and helping any student who becomes ill and/or tests positive. Starting today, all faculty, staff and students need to acknowledge the Healthy Vandal Pledge when signing onto VandalWeb. The pledge includes wearing masks inside campus buildings, self-checks and isolation when necessary.

No one is more excited to have students back on campus than I am, and no one is more concerned about the safety of our entire Vandal Family than me. Months of planning have gone into making our campus, centers, research and Extension sites as safe as possible. We will meet or exceed CDC and Idaho Department of Health guidelines. If each of us does our part, we can identify, isolate and protect our community, just as we did this past spring. We are a destination campus, and that has been true for 130 years. We cannot thrive as an online-only option. Many students are delaying, avoiding, even changing their choice of where they are currently enrolled based on whether their instruction will be solely online or will be offered through live or hybrid instruction. Faculty interaction is key to the great work we do here — the work our students deserve.

We recognize that the current situation is dynamic, and we stand prepared to go solely online should we find ourselves unable to keep our community safe. We will continue to communicate often. We are Vandals, and we will stay strong and persevere.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  July 1, 2020
SUBJECT:  Recapping Our Budget Challenges and Decisions


When I returned home a year ago, I knew we faced budget challenges. What I didn’t know was the full magnitude of these issues and how we would be further challenged by a global pandemic. While this has been exhausting for all of us, what I have found at every turn is a Vandal Family that cares deeply about this university. Each of you is dedicated and determined to do what is best for our students, our state and each other. For that, I am grateful. In summary, we have accomplished much together. We have:

  • Reduced our operational spending in FY20, not only hitting our $14 million reduction target but, excluding one-time expenses due to COVID-19 and the voluntary separation programs, exceeded it.
  • Cut our cash burn rate by $13 million, or over half, including the impact on our cash inflows due to COVID-19 (and may be even better once we close the books).
  • Reduced our Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) liabilities by $11 million. This will be recognized in our FY21 financial statements.
  • Passed a budget that, depending on any lingering effects on enrollments due to COVID-19, should eliminate our deficit by FY22.
  • Produced a new budget allocation model that will be more sustainable because it will tie funding to enrollments, persistence, collaboration and efficiency, all characteristics of successful educational institutions.

The details of these successes are provided below.

Reducing Expenditures by $14 million for FY20

We went into FY20 with significant increases to employee benefit costs and a projected tuition revenue shortfall. We also needed to improve our net position to meet new accounting requirements reflecting future obligations to university retirees. We knew we could not address the full deficit in one year but did make $14 million in cuts to the FY20 budget.

We worked together, holding each college and unit accountable for preserving accumulated cash and reducing expenditures. This level of attention reduced spending and controlled budgets enough to realize the full $14 million reduction to our operating expenses, excluding the one-time costs of implementing the VSIP and ORIP programs. The full cost of those programs was recognized this year, but the benefit will be recognized in financial statements over the next two fiscal years.

Simultaneously, we kicked off our first working group — the Sustainable Financial Model Working Group. After several months of work and refinement, the whitepaper proposing a new funding model is now available for your comments. We will solidify the metrics to be used and model this plan through FY21 and implement it in FY22.

The state, feeling the effects of a slowing economy, implemented a 1% holdback in late 2019. In response to this one-time event, we implemented voluntary furlough, which many of you graciously participated in, allowing us to meet this holdback without permanent cuts. COVID-19 certainly prevented more people from taking voluntary furlough as we pivoted to the new normal. However, we did realize about $300,000 of this goal, with the rest funded from the operational savings achieved in excess of our $14 million target. The state also told us to prepare for a potential 2% holdback in FY21, which did indeed come to fruition.

We revamped our Other Post-Employment Benefits to phase out full benefit coverage for certain future retirees, while keeping our commitment to those who already have retired. We were the only institution in the state and among our peers to offer such a robust program. This change will result in a reduction of OPEB liability of $11 million that will be recognized in our FY21 year-end balance sheet.

Permanent Cuts and Additional Challenges in FY21

The $14 million in budget cuts from FY20 were made permanent in FY21 along with an additional $8 million needed to eliminate our operating deficit.

Again, this was not easy, but together we found ways to make it happen.

To help us meet this goal, we provided two opportunities for faculty and staff to benefit from early separation from the university. The Voluntary Separation Incentive and Optional Retirement Incentive programs resulted in more than 110 of our colleagues participating. While no amount of money can replace the institutional knowledge and dedication of this group, their departure does equate to $8.4 million in salary savings and $3.1 million in fringe benefit savings. In addition to these voluntary separations, colleges and units unfortunately were forced to issue non-renewals to 39 faculty and staff to reach their budget targets (including 13 faculty non-renewals for contracts that end in FY21).

I am grateful for the years of dedicated service these Vandals have given and wish each well as they leave the university for retirement or the next chapter of their journey.

We outsourced the textbook portion of the VandalStore, keeping the remaining services with the talented VandalStore team. The buying power of our new partner, Texas Book Company, enabled the university to turn a loss-making activity into a revenue stream. We reviewed outsourcing some of our facilities work, but in the end decided this was not the best way to proceed.

We fulfilled our annual requirement to review all academic programs through the Program Prioritization process. This was done simultaneously with college budgeting; the impacts of one is intertwined with the other. We asked everyone to be intentional in rehiring and document any requests to rehire. In many cases, you have chosen to help curb costs by pausing any hiring. That effort doesn’t come without work — each of you has been asked to pick up slack and take on extra duties. Thank you for putting the university first.

Impacts of COVID-19

Just as we were getting our feet under us and looking forward to putting our financial challenges behind us, coronavirus hit our world, our state and our university. With unprecedented speed and agility, university faculty moved more than 4,000 class sections online in less than a week. Asking students to not return to campus from Spring Break no doubt protected those most vulnerable in our community, but it also came with financial strain. Refunds for housing, parking and other student services began to gnaw away at the gains we had made. We experienced losses in revenue from canceled events and increases in expenses as we moved rapidly to improve technology to support online course loads.

Then the state of Idaho implemented a 5% holdback as revenues across the state plummeted due to COVID-19 response, including stay-at-home orders and business closures, and that caused us to implement a mandatory furlough for the coming fiscal year rather than eliminate more positions.

CARES Act money from the federal government first provided some cash to our Spring and Summer 2020 students. A second allotment of $3.4 million came to the university to help offset some of the costs associated with the pandemic. This federal money was welcome, but it fell well short of covering the impact the campus closure has had and will have on our university. We anticipate losses could exceed $15 million, depending on the impact COVID-19 has on fall enrollment.

To help meet the setback from COVID-19 we implemented mandatory furlough for all employees. Furlough assignments are based on your salary and are available for viewing in VandalWeb. For more details about furlough, visit the FAQ.

Other resources are available, and we continue to apply for funding to help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 but also to help us invest in things such as technology (high-speed internet, primarily) at our Extension sites to enable students to succeed wherever they are in our state.

While we have made cuts and adjustments in some areas, we have continued to invest in fundraising and marketing — with the needs of our students at the forefront. We raised more than $650,000 during Vandal Giving Day, smashing previous records, and are using those resources to encourage students to join our great institution this fall. It seems to be working. Last weekend we welcomed 138 prospective students to our Moscow campus to experience what a residential campus has to offer. Our Advancement team has also raised over $48 million this year, the second highest total in our history, to further fund scholarships, research and telling our story. While almost all of this money is restricted by donors for a specific purpose and not available for general operations, it is important for laying the foundation for our future. This result has paid for our investment in this talented team many times over.

Our public-private partnership (P3) opportunity is hitting high gear. The request for proposals was posted this week, and we are working with four finalists who will visit Moscow this summer to better understand our utility infrastructure and help them frame a proposal to best serve our needs. This 50-year lease will provide the university with cash up front that we will place in an endowment. The earnings and amortization of principal will be invested in our students in the form of scholarships and online support, in research and in telling our story, as well as funding a capital maintenance plan for the steam plant.

The Idaho Central Credit Union (ICCU) Arena is taking shape, and we are moving closer to seeing the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) become a reality. Why are we continuing these endeavors in the face of the budget challenges? These capital projects are funded by gifts, the State of Idaho and student fees, not through operational dollars. If we did not spend these dollars on this infrastructure, we would have to return it to the donors, state and students. Seeing a new building go up is inspiring and hopeful when so many other things are challenging us. These buildings are part of our future — our positive and productive future.

I am excited about the potential of the University of Idaho. As you have read, we have accomplished so much this year despite all that was thrown at us. Not only is our long-term future bright, but in the near term, I can’t wait to see our students back on campus and in our classrooms in August. There is no doubt we will have challenges. But it is imperative we plan for all contingencies, stay flexible and work together to continue to provide the quality residential academic experience our students want and expect. As a destination campus, the University of Idaho cannot thrive without it. Our success depends on the Vandal Family continuing to work together, putting our students and university first.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Contact Us

Physical Address:
Administration Building
Room 105
Moscow, ID
83844-3151

208-885-6365
president@uidaho.edu

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive
MS 3151
Moscow, ID
83844-3151

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