The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2013-11-01

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November 1, 2013

Dear Friends,
Readers of the Friday Letter are familiar with historian Rafe Gibbs’ stirring description of the University of Idaho as a “beacon” of excellence. In no endeavor does Idaho’s light shine more brightly than in scientific discovery. 
That is one reason why our undergraduate student body contains 76 National Merit Scholars -– an extraordinary number -- including 25 first-year students. Of those new students, 22 have expressed their intention to pursue majors in the STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) disciplines.
The Right Place

These students have come to the right place. Here they will not only find excellence in the STEM disciplines, but also will gain a profound understanding of interdisciplinary connections to the social sciences and humanities.  Idaho’s national land-grant, comprehensive, founding university will prepare them for careers in discovery, enabling them to become innovators who drive economic development and social progress. We have a history of doing so.
For example, Arthur Adair from Moscow, UI Class of 1896, took his Idaho education eastward and became the chief engineer of the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation. Thomas Galloway, from Weiser, UI Class of 1907, became a medical researcher and educator who developed surgical techniques to save polio patients. Joseph Braham, of Moscow, UI Class of 1914, went on to lead research and development for Allied Chemical and Dye Corporation -- today known simply as Allied. 
More recently,
Jack Lemley, UI Class of 1960, became chief executive of the British-French consortium that constructed the “chunnel” beneath the English Channel -– the largest privately funded construction project in history.
Global & Extra-Global Impact

Today, even as this Friday Letter is written, scientists worldwide are studying data and images transmitted from the
Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn, and from the Mars Curiosity Explorer traversing the Martian surface. Both spacecraft contain vital components developed by teams of scientists at the University of Idaho.
At our College of Natural Resources, researchers have developed a technique for tracking movements and migrations of fish and mammals, using environmental DNA (eDNA) collected from the cells that animals shed into the environment. 
Lisette Waits, professor of fish and wildlife sciences, and her colleagues have pioneered and expanded the eDNA technique, opening doors to many research possibilities and applications such as combating invasive species that threaten to destroy waterways.
In our College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, researchers at the
UI Aquaculture Research Institute in Hagerman, Idaho, are developing plant protein foods to feed trout. This could end the unsustainable practice of feeding commercial freshwater fish with food made from ocean fish. If successful, Idaho –- the world’s largest producer of commercial trout –- will benefit, as will the world’s population.
These are but a few illustrations of the impact of discovery and innovation at the University of Idaho. Additional examples can be found in student work displayed in the
university’s latest Innovation Showcase, in the College of Engineering’s Senior Design Projects, and in the College of Business & Economics’ Vandal Innovation and Enterprise Works competition.
“Making the world a better place” may be an over-used phrase; but when applied to the University of Idaho, it is a noble and authentic expression. We embrace it.
Our students are embarked upon the open sea of discovery and innovation. Their destination is a better world of their own making. The University of Idaho’s beacon will guide them, and the flagship will carry them to shore.  

Go Vandals!
Don Burnett
Interim President

Here's the Latest News from the University of Idaho
Biochemistry Major, Runner Excels In Academics, Athletics. Hannah Kiser spent her summer doing two of her favorite things: learning and running. A member of the university track and field and cross-country teams and a biochemistry major, took summer classes so she can earn her bachelor’s degree in December and head directly into UI’s graduate program in movement sciences while continuing to compete as a Vandal. The program is a perfect fit for Kiser, who hopes to conduct research that will help elite athletes perform better. Read more.

See more news and features.

Story Uses IRA Charitable Rollover Gift To Increase Scholarship Fund. Charles Story ’50 recently transferred $100,000 tax-free dollars through an IRA Charitable Rollover to enhance the Story Family Scholarship Endowment in the College of Business and Economics. Chuck and his late wife Patricia Jordan Story ’50 established the scholarship to help good students involved in campus and/or community activities to receive the same Idaho education that proved so beneficial in their own lives and that of their daughter, Karen Story Snow ‘80. Chuck is retired from Chevron USA’s San Francisco office where he served as the national pricing manager, but currently lives in Boise. “The Story Scholarship helps the college provide crucial resources to deserving students and we are thrilled Chuck has added this generous gift to the endowment,” said Mario Reyes, dean of the college. Until December 31, 2013, donors aged 70½ or older are eligible to move up to $100,000 from their IRA directly to qualified charities without having to pay income taxes on the money. To make a gift directly from an IRA, contact your IRA trustee or custodian. Sample letters are available hereFor more information on the IRA Charitable Rollover or other planned giving opportunities, contact Sharon Morgan at (208) 885-5760 or