The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2014-10-02

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Dear Friends,
The strength of a university lies in the strength of its faculty. In my first 200 days as president, I’ve been privileged to meet faculty members whose enthusiasm, positivity and intelligence make the University of Idaho strong.
The university’s first mission is education, and excellent faculty members share their knowledge with their students and encourage them to challenge themselves beyond the classroom. Faculty members also lead the way in research and outreach, bringing new discoveries and understanding to today’s most vital topics and extending those results to people who can benefit from them.
The University of Idaho is home to longtime professors like the Lionel Hampton School of Music’s Dan Bukvich, a University Distinguished Professor, percussionist and composer whose recognitions include winning the 2012 U.S. Professor of the Year Award for the state of Idaho. Bukvich came to UI in 1977 and has since inspired a love of musical performance in generations of Vandals with his passionate, exuberant and occasionally offbeat teaching style. Many of us have enjoyed listening to the Jazz Choir under his direction.
Alongside faculty who have dedicated years to the University of Idaho, many new faces bring fresh ideas and vibrancy to campus. This year, I’m pleased to welcome faculty such as Chris Marx in the College of Science and Lil Alessa in the College of Art and Architecture to the Vandal ranks.
Marx, an associate professor of biological sciences, came to UI from Harvard as the first among a new group of professors in physics, mathematics, statistics and biology who will work to bridge their disciplines. His innovative work includes developing mathematical models that can predict how bacteria might evolve, giving scientists new tools to respond to and guide bacterial evolution in ways that could benefit humanity. Dr. Marx also has founded a company to commercialize some of the work in his lab on converting methane to dietary protein using bacteria, a technology that seems far-fetched until one considers the reduced price of natural gas due to enhanced recovery.
Alessa came to UI from the University of Alaska Anchorage, bringing her expansive experience in helping communities connect with and utilize university research, which she’s used to establish UI’s Center for Resilient Rural Communities. Most recently, she was part of a team selected to create a Department of Homeland Security Center for Excellence that will help communities with maritime ports monitor the health of their local natural resources, with an eye on maintaining port security. Dr. Alessa has also been involved in the development of a proposal for a Western Dairy Research Center.
These and many other faculty members give the university a firm foundation of excellence. They are teachers, advisers, mentors, investigators and pioneers. With their dedication and leadership, the University of Idaho is strong – and growing stronger.

Chuck Staben portrait


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

Secretary of Transportation Visits U-Idaho
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Professor Emerita Supports Dance Faculty with Pledge
Diane Walker, UI professor emerita of dance, has pledged $30,000 for the Diane B. Walker Dance Faculty Endowment to support the professional development of full-time dance faculty.
“I hope to reward faculty members and assist in providing a means for them to conduct their creative and scholarly work,” she said.  Learn More »

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