The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2014-05-09:

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 Some images, links, and functionality may be broken or out of date.

Dear Friends,

Commencement: 1. A ceremony at which degrees are conferred.  2. A beginning or start.

The "beginnings" we celebrate at commencement manifest two central roles of our land-grant university: educating citizens and benefitting society. This week began our commencement season, in which the University community joins with our students and their families and friends to recognize individual student achievement and the impact these educated students have on our society.

On Wednesday, the University conferred 152 degrees — bachelor’s, master’s, law, and doctoral — on students from the Treasure and Magic Valleys at a ceremony in Boise. This included 21 degrees earned in Twin Falls where the university offers classes at the College of Southern Idaho campus.

Yesterday, I also shared in the commencement events in Idaho Falls where more than 80 degrees were conferred, including bachelor, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

These degrees reflect many academic fields including agriculture, life sciences, architecture, education, engineering, interdisciplinary programs, law, and natural resources. However, there’s a bigger picture. Diplomas reflect the hard work of individuals who invested their time and effort. They also reflect the work of faculty, staff, friends, and family who similarly invested in each student.

This partnership provides promise for the future, based on newly gained skills and knowledge that is essential to personal and societal improvement. We know from Department of Labor and Census Bureau data that on average, college graduates gain and hold jobs with higher salaries than those who do not attain a college degree. Further, college graduates live longer than nongraduates. We also know that UI graduates get a great return on their investment in terms of wages than many U.S. graduates, and that they lead fulfilling lives in their communities.

Watching graduates enter society validates the core belief behind the Morrill Act central to our land-grant mission -- making higher education broadly available improves American social and economic development. Our founders shared this view, which is  codified in the very stone of our Administration Building, that the university was charged with training  Idaho leaders to achieve “their highest usefulness in private life and public service.”

Just as we prepare leaders, we also recognize leaders at commencement. Frances Ellsworth ’71 is a Vandal who knows the life-changing value of learning at the University of Idaho and a graduate who has benefitted society. Frances has earned the Jim Lyle Alumni Award for volunteerism and the Silver and Gold Award for outstanding service to the University of Idaho. Frances has chaired the UI Foundation and she has been tireless in leading key UI task forces while also operating her own business and aiding the Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center Foundation, the Idaho Humane Society, the Idaho Community Foundation, and more. The University was honored to recognize her service with the President's Medallion at the Boise Commencement.

We’ll recognize new and established leaders at our ccommencement ceremonies in Coeur d’Alene on Monday and on May 17 in Moscow

These ceremonies are inspiring because at each event, the smiles of the families, friends, and each graduate represent a new beginning for citizen leaders and another University of Idaho contribution toward the greater good.

President Chuck Staben portrait

Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben

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