The Friday Letter Archive

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


Collections A-Z

Friday Letter 2014-09-26

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 Some images, links, and functionality may be broken or out of date.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

This weekend, we honor three great contributors to the University of Idaho’s past, present and future.

First, we welcome our students’ parents with Dads' Weekend. I’m thankful for the fathers and families who support, encourage and challenge our students, and I hope they enjoy this opportunity to get a glimpse into their children’s lives at the university.

On Friday, we celebrate our supportive local community with the Vandal Town Block Party. This is a new event, sponsored by the City of Moscow and the Moscow Chamber of Commerce, designed to connect town and gown. Local businesses and bands will be on hand to welcome students to the community.

Finally, this weekend includes Celebrating Idaho Agriculture and Ag Days. Agriculture has been central to the University of Idaho since our earliest years, and it remains the foundation of Idaho’s economy today, generating $7.8 billion in sales in 2013. Our state feeds the world with potatoes, grain, beef, dairy products, trout and dozens of other products. The University of Idaho continues to provide the information and innovation that keep Idaho’s agricultural industries strong and growing.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences researchers develop heartier grain varieties, fight potato pests, improve food production processes, and prepare growers for a changing climate and so much more. And we don’t just generate knowledge, we gather and share it through a statewide network of 12 regional research and extension centers and 42 extension offices serving Idaho counties.

In my first months as president, I’ve been eager to talk to researchers and industry leaders about ways this work can grow broader and deeper. I have visited every one of our research and extension centers and enjoyed several field days. I’ve met with agricultural commissions and associations and with leaders of the food industry in Idaho and nationally. As one result of such consultation, we’re now investigating the potential for UI to create a research center focusing on dairy — a booming sector of Idaho’s economy in which we can take a leadership role.

We can’t do this work alone. The university is proud to partner with industry leaders such as Limagrain Cereal Seeds, commodities commissions like the Idaho Wheat Commission and generous donors such as Genesee wheat farmers Russ and Kathy Zenner — and that’s just one crop and one set of committed partners for whom we’re grateful.

As many of these partners visit Moscow this weekend, I hope our community takes the opportunity to learn more about Idaho agriculture’s contributions and the role UI can play in its success.

Celebrating Idaho Agriculture events include this afternoon’s free panel discussion, “Feeding 9 Billion People: Technology’s Impact,” at which top agricultural leaders will talk about how agriculture will use technology to feed the world’s rapidly growing population.

On Saturday before the Vandals take on South Alabama, please meet Mary Beth and me at the Celebrating Idaho Agriculture Pregame Festival on the Kibbie Dome north lawn. (For details and other events, click here.)

In addition to research, the University of Idaho provides another key resource to Idaho agriculture: the students who learn about agriculture here and take their knowledge to the state and the world. Their talent and skills are the true seeds of innovation.

That’s something future Vandals will soon discover, too. As hundreds of high school students from the Northwest visit Ag Days, our CALS faculty, staff, students and alumni will introduce them to the opportunities they have at UI and inspire them to study fields related to agriculture, foods and natural resources.

We know that, in the future, some of those students will return to campus as alumni to celebrate Idaho agriculture again as farmers, ranchers, researchers, entrepreneurs and industry leaders. We’ll be here, dedicated to helping this vital industry thrive.

Chuck Staben portrait

Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
down arrow
Here's the Latest News from the University of Idaho

Inspiring Futures
The Idaho Wheat Commission has continued its partnership with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. The commission, which represents wheat growers throughout the state, will support the Idaho wheat-breeding program by providing $604,000 toward a new university position targeting wheat genetics.

The Idaho Wheat Genetics Program will focus on broad areas of basic wheat genetic research, including the development of technology and processes to support wheat research and development. A national search recently launched to fill this tenure-track position, which will have an 80 percent research and 20 percent teaching appointment.

“This new position will be at the forefront of efforts to focus new variety development on using new tools to identify and incorporate genetic traits, which will improve and accelerate the creation of new wheats tailored to grower and consumer needs,” said Donn Thill, Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station director.

For more information, contact Kim O’Neill, CALS assistant dean of advancement, at 208-885-8606 or