The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2013-10-11

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October 11, 2013
Dear Friends,

As readers of the Friday Letter know, the University of Idaho has a unique heritage.  Established in 1889 it is our state’s national land-grant, founding, comprehensive, and constitutionally recognized university. Those characteristics, taken together, classically define a flagship institution.
Flagships sail with a fleet. They receive their mission from a governing authority -- in our case, the Board of Regents -- and they fulfill that mission through collaboration with other members of the fleet, each of which has its own essential and vital capabilities. The fleet in Idaho higher education includes sister institutions with whom we share common bonds of history. 
For example, in 1901, the private Academy of Idaho became a state-run institution in Pocatello, one of the original sites proposed for the University of Idaho. The Academy of Idaho would become the Idaho Technical Institute in 1915, before being elevated to a new status as the University of Idaho – Southern Branch in 1927. For two decades, the University of Idaho delivered higher education in both Moscow and Pocatello, in addition to operating the University of Idaho’s other statewide research and extension sites.  In 1947, the Southern Branch became Idaho State College and later, in 1963, it became Idaho State University. I was living in Pocatello at the time. I remember how local pride swelled when ISC became ISU.
Today, the UI and ISU collaborate extensively. In Idaho Falls we deliver courses at the University Place facility, and our respective faculties conduct high-profile research at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES). We are joint participants in the Mountain West Regional Health Research Network, in National Science Foundation-supported watershed research; and in the Idea Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE). Just last month, UI and ISU faculty received national recognition for their award-winning Idaho Geological Survey (IGS) map
Our sister institution 35 miles to the south, Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, also shares an historical narrative with the University of Idaho. Created by the Legislature in 1893, and starting operations in 1896 as Lewiston State Normal School, it had a mission of training teachers. It underwent several structural iterations before the Legislature closed it in 1951 to save money. Lobbying revived the school in 1955 as Lewis-Clark Normal School, organized as a branch of the University of Idaho, and was assigned the mission of preparing elementary school teachers. The chief executive officer of the school was a specially appointed dean from the University of Idaho. 
In 1963, the same year ISC became ISU, the Normal School received its current name, along with independent status and authority to offer a wider baccalaureate curriculum.  Today, LCSC collaborates with the UI in several undergraduate programs including military science; and we are jointly planning, in cooperation with North Idaho College, a collaborative education facility in Coeur d’Alene.   
Our sister institution farther to the south, Boise State University, was established originally as Boise Junior College in 1932 by the Episcopal Church. Two years later the school became independent of the church and moved to its current location along the Boise River. In 1969 the school entered the state higher education system, gained four-year status, and was named Boise State College. In 1974 it achieved university status.  During these transitions, BSU was not structurally linked to the UI, but sitting UI presidents occasionally joined the platform parties of graduation ceremonies in Boise. 
Today, BSU collaborates with the UI through a host of faculty interactions including CAES and INBRE (mentioned above), through the joint offering of concurrent law-and-accounting degrees, and through a joint effort – coordinated the Small Business Development Center at BSU and the Small Business Legal Clinic at the UI – to provide statewide assistance to entrepreneurs seeking to get new enterprises off the ground. Just this week, the UI and BSU were both named by the Association of Public & Land Grant Universities to a national list of only 16 “Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities.” It is remarkable that sparsely populated Idaho captured two of those national designations.
These successes show that collaboration is powerful. It is how the University of Idaho fulfills its distinctive calling. It is how we lead. 
Go Vandals!

Don Burnett
Interim President

Here's the Latest News from the University of Idaho

UI Among Among 16 Most Economically Engaged, Innovative University. The Association of Public Land-grant Universities named the University of Idaho as one of the nation’s top 16 “Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities.” Formal recognition will be given in November at the annual APLU meeting. Notably, the original competitors formed a “learning community” to share strategies and methods before submitting their award applications.  The winners were selected based on their assessment process, strategy, results, and plans for future economic development activities.  Three other western schools were also recognized: California State – Fresno, Boise State, and Washington State.

Get more Vandal News or Features.

CNR Emeritus Professor, Wife Establish Endowed Graduate Scholarship. Longtime professor J. Michael Scott and his wife, Sharon, have endowed the J. Michael and Sharon L. Scott Graduate Student Scholarship to support graduate students in Fish and Wildlife Sciences. “We are honored that our retired faculty would choose to invest in our students and our programs so that we can continue to produce highly effective natural resource professionals,” said Kurt Pregitzer, dean of the College of Natural Resources. Scott is a University Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences in the College of Natural Resources and his wife, Sharon, worked at the Martin Institute on campus for 20 years, until her retirement. Scott came to UI in 1986 with a background teaching and researching around the West and Hawaii. It was his work in Hawaii that led to the creation of the GAP Analysis Program that studies gaps in the protection of endangered and threatened plants and animals. The U.S. Geological Survey GAP Analysis is now used worldwide as a conservation standard. For more information on giving to the College of Natural Resources, contact Steve Hacker at (208) 885-7400 or