The Friday Letter Archive

A collection of the president's weekly messages to the Vandal family


Collections A-Z

Friday Letter 2013-08-30

Please note: this is an archived email message and may not display as originally intended. Some images, links, and functionality may be broken or out of date.

Friday Letter Office of the President

August 30

Dear Alumni and Friends, 

When you next have an opportunity to visit our campus in Moscow (I especially recommend visiting in the autumn, when the Palouse bursts forth with stunning colors), please take a moment to view an inscription at the entrance to the Administration Building. There you will read that the “Commonwealth of Idaho” has established our university “for the training of Idaho’s future citizens to their highest usefulness in private life and public service.” Those words proclaim a mission that is more than a century old, yet as modern as today. 

Last week, our Board of Regents (the Idaho State Board of Education) took positive action on several line item appropriation requests that will help us fulfill our mission:

  • The State Board recognized our need to recruit faculty and staff competitively, and to retain talented individuals who have received only one modest salary adjustment in the past six years. Many of these mission-essential people are being courted by other institutions. It was heartening, therefore, to see the State Board last week recommend that the Governor submit and the Legislature approve a fully funded “CEC” (change of employee compensation) for higher education faculty and staff, along with other state employees.
  • The Board, recognizing that our mission requires safe and up-to-date facilities, voted to recommend funding of deferred maintenance based upon a formula of demonstrated need. This will especially benefit our university, which has Idaho’s oldest and largest campus system, with a correspondingly large inventory of unfunded repair and renovation projects.
  • The Board, underscoring the importance of its “Complete College Idaho” initiative, voted to recommend an appropriation that will enable all of Idaho’s higher education institutions to hire new faculty, staff, teaching assistants or advisers for the purpose of improving access to, and student success in, post-secondary programs.
  • The Board also voted to recommend an appropriation that will strengthen our College of Law in its fulfillment of the University of Idaho’s historic statewide mission in legal education. This appropriation will support faculty, staff, and operations related to offering second-year law classes (in addition to existing third-year classes) at Boise. The Board approved the second-year curriculum last year, and the Board is now helping the university secure the resources necessary to implement it. 

Why is the College of Law item important? Law graduates go not only into the practice of law but also into other careers such as entrepreneurship, corporate management, education, public administration, and civic leadership. Because the Juris Doctor degree is so versatile, enhancing the curricular opportunities available to students will amplify the University of Idaho’s service to the state while elevating the attractiveness and competitiveness of our law program.

The College’s curricular design – which PreLaw Magazine recently called one of the top 25 innovations in American legal education – anchors the full three-year, Juris Doctor curriculum in Moscow. Upper-division courses will be offered where there is a locational advantage. For example, natural resources and environmental law will continue to be a curricular emphasis in Moscow, drawing upon the assets of our land-grant research campus. Business law will be a curricular emphasis in Boise, drawing upon the assets of Idaho’s largest metropolitan commercial center. These complementary locations will be (and already are) connected by distance education technology. Students will be able to enjoy access to opportunities at the location(s) best suited to their subject-matter interests and their personal or family needs.

Our primary objective in providing these opportunities is not to increase overall law school enrollment; indeed, the enrollment impact is expected to be modest. Rather, the primary purpose is qualitative -- to serve our students better and to fulfill our statewide mission more completely.

This is but one example of the University of Idaho’s legacy of leading. It illustrates how Idaho’s founding university, with help from our Board of Regents, is delivering on the historic promise of “training … Idaho’s future citizens to their highest usefulness in private life and public service.”

Go Vandals!


Don Burnett
Interim President

Statewide Study Finds Shortage Of Legal Assistance For Idaho Residents. A recent study completed by the University of Idaho Social Science Research Unit, in conjunction with the College of Law, has found that for many Idahoans, assistance on ordinary legal problems is beyond reach.  Access to legal help is narrowed by the limited number of legal professionals providing affordable services. A survey of households across the state found that many moderate and low-income households were unable to meet fundamental needs in a wide range of civil law matters including wills, housing matters, consumer transactions, identity theft response, child custody/support, access to benefits and more. In some categories, up to 99 percent of those surveyed reported unmet legal needs. A parallel survey of legal professionals across the state – judges, lawyers, clerks, etc. – found that this shortage affects all Idahoans because of the delays in processing civil matters where individuals represent themselves.  Judges also face the challenge of attempting to administer justice impartially when the parties are not equally prepared or represented. Efforts to address this problem include public legal education, which enables law students to graduate with manageable debts and to represent small businesses or people of modest means.

Fire Ecology and Management Program Receives National Academic Certification. The University of Idaho is blazing the trail for fire ecology programs across the nation. The program received national academic certification by the Association for Fire Ecology. UI’s program is one of the first fire degree programs to receive the national certification and will serve as a model for other higher education programs. The program has grown quickly and now enrolls about 100 undergraduate students from around the country. See more.

Ada County Vandal Boosters Continue 30-year Legacy Of Vandal Scholarship Fund Support. This year marks 24 consecutive years of service by the Ada County Vandal Boosters in their sponsorship of the Vandal Scholarship Fund Gala in Boise. This year, more than 250 attended the gala that contributed just over $80,000 for the Vandal Scholarship Fund that benefits student athletes. Over the past three decades, the Ada County Vandal Boosters have donated more than $500,000 to the VSF, through events such as the Vandal Scholarship Fund Gala and the Ada County Vandal Golf Scramble. If you’re interested in donating to the Vandal Scholarship Fund, volunteering for the Ada County Vandal Boosters or would like more information on upcoming VSF events in your area, contact Joe Church at (208) 334-2087 or email him at