The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2014-10-16

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Dear Friends,
From my office window, I look out over the Admin Lawn and Hello Walk where the leaves are changing colors, students are bundling up a bit more and strands from a section of the practicing marching band occasionally filter across campus. Homecoming is here.
For many alumni, this weekend means a chance to come “home” to a beloved institution. For my wife and me, this special place has quickly become our home, as well, so we are eager to share in the spirit of the weekend.
Tonight Mary Beth and I look forward to joining university leaders and students in Vandal traditions. We’ll join the serpentine and wind our way through campus, led by the Vandal Marching Band — one of the best college bands in all the country. We’ll attend the bonfire and fireworks tonight, and after the Homecoming parade tomorrow, we’ll return to the Kibbie Dome to cheer on our Vandals, together with so many alumni.
With over 100,000 living alumni in Idaho and beyond, the Vandal alumni network is one of our institution’s treasures. It is an exceptionally passionate fan base for our teams and a strong supporter of our academics. It is also a critical tool for social and economic opportunities among our graduates.
Of course, many alumni already support programs and students generously with their donations, and for that we are grateful. But let’s not forget another layer of the potential impact of the Vandal network, and the relationships that can foster success for students when they leave our institution and join the workforce, eager to build rewarding careers and lives.
I have recently spent some time talking about mentoring, and how our faculty members play an important role in that work for students. But they don’t take on this work alone — alumni have invaluable experience, connections and skills they can share with students and recent graduates.
We know that mentoring relationships are incredibly important for student success. The Gallup organization — probably best known for their polls — has done extensive research on the well-being of students after and as a result of higher education, studying how “engaged” graduates are at work — how “deeply involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed” to their jobs students are after college.
The results are striking. Having “a mentor who encouraged my hopes and dreams,” as well as impactful professors and programmatic opportunities such as jobs and internships, means that graduates are much more likely to describe themselves as “thriving” in their well-being and feeling “engaged” with their work — three and two times as much, respectively.
More than institutional selectivity, an affordable education that offers relationship-based opportunities contributes to well-being and success.
As an institution, we are working to connect students to internships and other opportunities where mentoring can occur. Individual colleges and programs do this, too, giving students a chance to apply their learning to the real world, and to form relationships that will be integral for their future career. We are always seeking to do more.
But with 100,000 alumni and 10,000 undergraduate students, I ask you: How can we better connect you — with your experience, talent and commitment — to the employees and citizens of tomorrow? Can we better ensure that organizations like the one you may work for are reaching students with opportunities for training and internships? Would you like to get involved by visiting a class or participating in a program?
The skills and knowledge that students gain at UI are first-class. Our institution must also excel at promoting mentoring relationships, thereby leveraging our amazing Vandal alumni network. As we look back with pride this weekend, let’s also look forward with optimism and ideas.
Welcome home, Vandals. Whether you’re in Moscow or rooting for the Vandals from afar, thank you for the passion, for the generosity, and for the insight into how we equip our students to succeed with engaging careers and a thriving well-being.

Chuck Staben portrait


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

Gala Celebrates Donor Impact
University of Idaho donors gathered last night for the annual University Gala hosted by President Chuck Staben and University of Idaho Foundation Inc. Chairman Richard Allen ’73. The University inducted several new members into the prestigious 1889 Society, recognizing alumni, friends, corporations, foundations and organizations whose cumulative contributions total $1 million and more. The 2014 inductees include Lawrence L. ’55 and Kaye A. ’55 Knight, Bayer CropScience, LP and E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Company Inc. Also, 43 new members were welcomed into the Silver and Gold Society, which recognizes gifts to the University of Idaho of $100,000 to $999,999. The names of the new 1889 Society and Silver and Gold Society members have been added to the university’s Legacy of Giving donor recognition display in the Administration Building main foyer. For more information on giving to the University of Idaho, visit the Inspiring Futures website.
U-Idaho Student Selected for 8-Month Mars Simulation
U-Idaho mechanical engineering graduate student Sophie Milam is about to find out what life is like on Mars. Milam, a mechanical engineering master’s student at the University of Idaho, has been selected to participate in Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS, a project funded by the NASA Human Research Program that simulates a long-duration Mars mission here on Earth.
Bruce Pitman Retirement Celebration
This afternoon we celebrate the career of Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Bruce Pitman, who is retiring after 41 years of service. The celebration will be located in the SprinTurf tent on the east end of the Kibbie Dome. The event takes place from 4:30 to 7:30, with a program starting at 6 p.m. You are invited to share your memories — how has Dean Pitman left an impression of on your life, career and Vandal experience? 

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