The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2013-09-13

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Friday Letter Office of the President

September 13

Dear Friends,

As I write this, the sunlight of a warm autumn day is shining on Memorial Gym, one of the most photographed buildings on our Moscow campus.  The “memorial” reminds us of soldiers who have given their lives for our country. Tomorrow, in ceremonies on the Administration Building lawn and at the Kibbie Dome, the University of Idaho will salute the men and women who have served, and are now serving, in the U.S. Armed Forces. We do so respectfully and gratefully.

In an open and democratic society, as Professor Richard Kohn (University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill) has noted, “the purpose of the military is to defend society, not to define it.”  Our men and women in uniform serve at the direction of civilian authority. They go into harm’s way when and where we ask them to do so. Their service is an extraordinary blend of valor, constraint, and selflessness.

America has nearly 22 million living veterans and service members, with nearly 1.3 million currently deployed worldwide. Behind these men and women are families and friends who endure more sacrifice than many of us realize. All of them merit respectful recognition. 

In Idaho, our veterans include Medal of Honor recipients Marine Col. “Pappy” Boyington from Coeur d’ Alene, and Air Force Col. “Bernie” Fisher from Kuna, whose acts of bravery have been well documented. Throughout history, other recipients of this distinctive honor have included Army PFC William Nakamura, who was forcibly detained at the Minidoka internment camp in southern Idaho at the outset of World War II, yet who later served with the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team – the most decorated unit in the history of the U.S. Army.

Many more of our sons and daughters are missing in action or have been taken prisoner. The MIA/POW roster includes University of Idaho graduate Navy Cmdr. Roderick Mayer of Lewiston, whose aircraft was shot down over North Vietnam in 1965, and Ketchum resident Army Sgt. Bowie Bergdahl, who has been held by the Taliban in Afghanistan since 2009. We will remember them in our on-campus ceremonies.  We will also recognize the men and women of Idaho’s 116th Armored Cavalry Brigade and 124th Fighter Wing, as well as members of other National Guard, reserve or active duty units.

Many of those who serve in uniform, and are fortunate enough to return home, must cope with the effects of disabilities and disrupted lives. They deserve not only our thanks but our help.  The University of Idaho has stepped forward with its “Operation Education” program, providing scholarship aid to returning veterans and assistance to their families. Generous supporters have contributed more than $1 million to this effort. Operation Education is one of the reasons why the Military Times has named the University of Idaho one of the top 68 “Best for Vets” four-year institutions in the nation. 

I encourage you to join us in saluting our men and women in uniform, past and present – for their unselfish service. 

Don Burnett
Interim President

MOSS Wins Kellogg Community Engagement Award. The McCall Outdoor Science School, an outreach program of the University of Idaho College of Natural Resources, is the 2013 W.K. Kellogg Foundation West region winner for its success in creating a learning environment that promotes engagement and discovery in the community. As a result, the UI is one of four universities competing nationally for the prestigious C. Peter Magrath University/Community Engagement Award. The winner will be selected from the four regional winners at the Engagement Scholarship Consortium Conference at Texas Tech University in October. Pennsylvania State University, Ohio State University, the University of Texas, El Paso and the University of Idaho represent the four regional winners that will complete nationally for the Magrath Award. Read more. 

Professor, Fisheries Expert Earns National Conservation Award. For more than 23 years, Dennis Scarnecchia has researched some of the world’s oldest fish, including paddlefish and sturgeon. Now, he’s reeling in national recognition. His work at the University of Idaho will be rewarded in September, as he receives the Fisheries Management Sections Award of Excellence from the American Fisheries Societies at its annual meeting in Little Rock, Ark. Read more.

Together As Vandals We Create Future Success. We educate tomorrow’s leaders today, but shaping the future requires we work together. Many of you generously support the University of Idaho’s mission of preparing and inspiring the next generation of Vandal leaders — men and women who will hold the keys of success for our children and grandchildren. Thank you for your support; it provides a critical margin for excellence. Investing in the University of Idaho — in its students, faculty, programs and facilities — ensures that enterprising innovators across disciplines and careers will continue to stitch together the fabric of our great nation. With nearly 13,000 students attending classes in Moscow, Boise, Idaho Falls and Coeur d'Alene this fall semester, your generosity makes it possible for us to continue building Vandal leaders. If you haven’t yet joined the team of passionate Vandals making a gift to the Inspiring Futures campaign, please consider doing so today. Change the world of tomorrow -- today!