The Friday Letter Archive

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


Collections A-Z

Friday Letter 2013-12-13

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 Some images, links, and functionality may be broken or out of date.

December 13, 2013

Dear Friends,
“Like all organizations and individuals, a university must be judged by what it does, not by what it says.” This cautionary note, sounded by one of our university’s most distinguished leaders, Donald R. Theophilus (president, 1954-65), resonates today as a call to action.
We are heeding the call. As we approach our 125th anniversary, we have positioned the University of Idaho at the intersection of thought and action. Our scholars are producing new understandings of the solar system through their collaborative work on the
Curiosity Rover mission to Mars and the Huygens-Cassini mission to Saturn. Here on Earth, we are helping to secure the world’s food supply through scientific research on climate change and its impacts upon agricultural productivity. Looking deeply into “inner space,” our faculty and students are developing molecular structures for resilient new materials, and are discovering the intra-cell secrets of human and animal disease. 
We can generate such knowledge across a broad range of disciplines, transmit it through engaged teaching, and put it to work for the benefit of humanity, only if we attract talented people and furnish them the resources they need for high-quality work. As Dr. Theophilus observed:
"The record of the University of Idaho, with all its accomplishments, has been made by thousands of individuals; and, accordingly, future achievements of the University will belong to those who make them possible. To accomplish its mission in the world’s new frontiers, the University needs competent personnel, properly prepared and motivated students, and tools of knowledge in the form of adequate facilities and satisfactory equipment."
This requires a marriage of public support and private investment. Public support is vital for acquiring physical infrastructure and achieving institutional competence, while private investment is essential to attaining the margin of excellence.   
Two salient examples are the proposed Integrated Research Innovation Center (IRIC) and the planned renovation of the College of Education building on our Moscow campus. As noted in last week’s “Friday Letter,”
the IRIC will contain advanced laboratories and equipment for collaborative, interdisciplinary research. With a combination of public support from the Idaho Permanent Building Fund, university bonding supported by research grant revenues, and private contributions, we will have one of the most forward-looking research facilities in the nation.
The College of Education
renovation project will enable the university, not only to replace a deteriorating structure with a state-of-the-art teaching and learning facility, but also to re-envision how tomorrow’s teachers and school administrators should be educated and professionally developed. The renovated building, and the programs it houses, will enable the University of Idaho to be a leader in restoring America’s global preeminence in the quality of K-12 education. Sources of support for this endeavor will include the Idaho Permanent Building Fund, university bonding, foundation grants, and private contributions. 
New and improved facilities comprise one of the four cornerstones of the university’s $225 million
“Inspiring Futures” capital campaign. The other cornerstones are financial aid to students, development and sustainment of forward-looking academic programs, and support for faculty excellence.  Readers of the “Friday Letter” know that we have already crossed the $200 million mark in this ambitious effort.
The generosity of our alumni and friends is impressive, and the sheer number of contributors is heartwarming. Last month, we received our 100,000th campaign contribution. It came from a 1985 alumnus who has joined nearly 44,000 other donors in supporting the noble cause of “inspiring futures.”
The donors themselves are inspiring. We humbly thank them all for enabling our beloved university to be judged highly on what we do, not merely on what we say.
Somewhere, President Theophilus must be smiling.

Go Vandals!
Don Burnett
Interim President

Here's the Latest News from the University of Idaho

Students Contribute To NASA's Latest Moon Mission. The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer swung into orbit around the moon in October – and University of Idaho students helped it get there. Multiple students in the College of Engineering worked on the robotic explorer, known as LADEE, while interning at the NASA Ames Research Center through the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium. The LADEE spacecraft launched Sept. 7 and took a long, looping path to the moon, which it began orbiting Oct. 6. LADEE will spend four months studying the moon’s slight atmosphere and unusual dust. Read more.
University Gains Grant To Prevent Idaho Suicides. To help curb a statewide issue, the University of Idaho is working to reduce the number of student suicides with the help of the Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grant, a national grant that aims to educate the public on suicide prevention and bystander intervention. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded the University of Idaho Counseling and Testing Center with the three-year grant totaling $303,000 to support the university’s efforts of addressing mental illness, depression and thoughts of suicide. The program is funded through September 2016. Read more.

See More News And Features.

Year-End Giving Offers Opportunity To Inspire Futures, Gain Tax Benefits. The University’s success over its 125 years is merely the beginning of realizing the vast potential that lies in our people and programs. To achieve the University's potential and advance it to the next level of success requires new investment in students, faculty, programs and facilities. Inspiring Futures seeks investments from visionary individuals and organizations who through their giving support generations of Idaho students. This capital campaign is our plan to keep Idaho’s founding university moving forward; it represents a pathway for continued excellence. Your support is essential to continue and expand our legacy of leadership. Please consider making a year-end gift today. Specific year-end gift deadlines are available at the University of Idaho Foundation, Inc. website and accessible here. Your gift might also allow you to take advantage of 2013 tax benefits.