The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2014-11-13

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Dear Friends,
For a sports fan, and for a supporter of the University of Idaho, this is an exciting weekend. The University of Idaho men’s basketball team kicks off another season at historic Memorial Gymnasium, the volleyball team finishes up a strong Big Sky campaign ahead of the conference tournament, and our much-improved football squad takes the field for their final home game. It is a good occasion to reflect on the role that sports play in our lives and at our university.
Sports have always been an important part of my life. I was on the tennis and swim teams in high school, and played racquetball throughout college, a passion I’ve continued — you may have heard me offer to buy lunch for the student who can beat me in a match. I’ve always found that sports present an opportunity to build personal discipline, forge lasting relationships and enjoy a unique camaraderie.
My two sons were college athletes, both swimmers. I watched them pursue their sport with dedication, persevering through a challenging program of training and competition while also realizing their academic goals. It was not easy for them, but they took the dual role of student-athlete seriously, and I think the focus and discipline they found through their sports served them well during their undergraduate years and now in medical school.
That commitment is matched by what I have seen from our student-athletes at the University of Idaho. During a year where they competed in their new home in the Sun Belt — a strong place for our football program to be — 18 students on the Vandal football team recently made the Sun Belt’s Academic Honor Roll or Commissioner’s List for outstanding GPAs.
Tomorrow is our last home game for Vandal football, Senior Day for many of the players. These seniors have persevered through adversity, and many have been great ambassadors for both the university’s athletics and its academics.
As one example among many, I have had the pleasure of getting to know senior defensive end Maxx Forde, a double major in marketing and finance. After his pursuit of football, Maxx plans to tackle a career in business. I have no doubt that, like most of our Vandal student-athletes, he will take the same work ethic and determination he brings to sports to life off the field, representing us well as a proud alumnus.
For our non-football sports teams, the 2014-2015 year has brought a return to the Big Sky Conference. That follows historic success in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), including eight team championships last season that earned UI the Commissioner’s Cup trophy for overall success.

The Big Sky is an opportunity to renew historic rivalries and continue building on that success. Our volleyball team is off to a promising start, with a strong regular season that has qualified them for the conference tournament. This August our volleyball team earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Team Academic Award for the fourth consecutive season for maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team GPA. On the court and in the classroom, they are embodying the student-athlete ideal.

Athletics bring more to our university than school pride. Providing financial and academic support, personal development, and camaraderie, athletics offers opportunities for college success to students who otherwise might not participate in higher education. Contrary to the sometimes negative perceptions of student athletes, Division I athletic programs — often the most diverse units in schools — succeed in graduating student-athletes at rates higher than their non-athlete peers.

For so many student-athletes, success on the court or on the field is not just a complement to academic success, it is central to that achievement.

I hope you will join me this weekend and throughout the year in rooting on our Vandal athletes. On the field, in the classroom and in the world after graduation, they give us much to cheer about.

Chuck Staben portrait

Go Vandals!

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

UI Extension Irrigation Expert Wins Award
Howard Neibling, Kimberly-based University of Idaho Extension irrigation management engineer, works to improve irrigation efficiency on Idaho’s farms and ranches. Work by Neibling and his colleagues on the 19-state project Microirrigation for Sustainable Water Use, or W-2128, won the 2014 Experiment Station Section Excellence in Multistate Research Award.
Neibling’s research on using microirrigation to boost corn silage production while reducing the amount of water required has focused on fields near Kuna. That work showed microirrigation, which uses tubing to apply water directly to the soil at the crop’s roots, boosted production over center pivot irrigation to 32 tons per acre from 28 tons. 
College of Law Selected for PTO Pilot Program
The University of Idaho College of Law is honored to have been selected to join the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) Law School Pilot Clinic Certification Program for trademark law. The PTO recently expanded the program to include 19 new law schools.
The Pilot Clinic Certification Program, which was launched this fall, has two components: patent law and trademark law. Law schools can apply to participate in one or both programs, based on available faculty resources in their clinics. Law students working in PTO-certified law school clinics are granted a limited license to practice before the PTO under the guidance of an approved faculty clinic supervisor. Students in the trademark program at the UI College of Law’s Small Business Legal Clinic draft and file applications for Idaho businesses seeking trademark protection under federal law.
A Generous Gift That Pays You Back
Ann L. Taylor ’47 of Kendrick, Idaho, is a retired medical technologist. She lives on a farm of 500 acres that her late husband Eldon’s family homesteaded in the 1880s. Eldon was a teacher and the superintendent of schools in Kendrick. There are four generations of Vandals in Ann’s family. In 2014, Ann donated a condo that she owned in Lewiston to a charitable remainder unitrust with the University of Idaho Foundation Inc. The assets remaining in the trust at Ann’s death will support the Colleges of Education and Science, as well as the Lionel Hampton School of Music. In the meantime, the trust provides Ann with income throughout her lifetime to replace the rental income from the condo. For information about supporting the University of Idaho via a gift that pays you back, contact Sharon Morgan at 866-671-7041 or

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