The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2014-12-05

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Dear Friends,
This December marks a special occasion for the University of Idaho and the Vandal family. Seven years ago we embarked on an ambitious project, a $225 million capital campaign to maintain and improve upon the excellence of Idaho’s leading national research university. Thanks to the hard work of many people, and the generosity from more than 50,000 individuals across Idaho and the world, we will ring in the New Year having achieved our goal.
The Inspiring Futures: Invest in the University of Idaho campaign is the largest comprehensive fundraising effort in the history of Idaho.
While we’re proud of the gaudy statistics, the Inspiring Futures campaign has never been about numbers alone. It is about what those numbers mean for the success of our students, for our pursuit of innovation and discovery, for our world-class learning environments, and for our ability to partner with others on areas of critical importance. The campaign has been about coming together to make a difference for our institution — and our world.
A public institution like ours is sometimes faced with situations beyond our control. We don’t always know what changing economic climates and demographics will mean for our university, though we strive to carefully assess that. And while we make our voice heard before the legislature, we don’t always know what that body will do for our institution.
But as a Vandal family, private giving is an area where we can exercise control. Collectively, we can decide that the University of Idaho is a worthwhile investment in our future. We can support programs, activities, facilities and research that develop much-needed leaders and professionals, find solutions to challenging problems, and build roadways to progress and prosperity for our state.
As individuals, organizations and corporate partners, we can make opportunities come to life. For instance, did you know that 36 percent of students who attend the University of Idaho are first-generation college attendees?
That includes students like Fredy Olmos. Originally from Mexico, Fredy came the United States legally as a young child, and grew up in a rural, southern Idaho farming community. His hard work and persistence helped him secure 15 scholarships in his freshman year. Now a senior, he hopes to go on to graduate school in either law or management.
That career path grew wings because people cared enough about opportunities to support scholarship programs. In fact, over the course of the campaign, 149 new scholarships have been created. Donor generosity has also produced 20 new faculty endowments.
Donors have also gifted $35 million in funding for facilities renovation and new construction. Again, great numbers, but here’s what that translates to on the ground: expansion of the Barker Trading Room where students gain real-world financial management experience; renovation of the Haddock Performance Hall where students take center stage; a newly opened Doceo Center for Innovation and Learning that supports teachers with technology training; much-needed updates to the Kibbie Dome for our student-athletes; a new thinkTANK collaborative space in the College of Engineering; and  many, many more brick-and-mortar improvements to take our physical spaces into the 21st century.
Student by student, family by family and dream by dream, the generosity of the Vandal family has made an overwhelming impact through the Inspiring Futures campaign. If you have given, or if you are going to give, we hope you have already heard loudly and clearly a message of thanks, but I will offer it to you again: Thank you.
We are not quite done, of course. And we have many needs that will continue on after the campaign, including some projects that I think you will be very excited to support.
The Inspiring Futures campaign has brought us together to do our part for the next generation of leaders in the state of Idaho and beyond. Thanks to the generosity of Vandal friends and family, the future looks very bright. 

Chuck Staben portrait

Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben

P.S.: This week finds me and other members of university leadership in China, where we are meeting with counterparts at our sister institution, visiting a dairy research center, and discussing the collaborative work of our Confucius Institute. I look forward to filling you in on the trip details and outcomes in a special letter on Monday, December 15. 
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Here's the Latest News from the University of Idaho

Creating a World-class Environment for Learning
With support from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation and other donors, the College of Education has seized the opportunity to create a world-class environment for learning — a completely renovated space that will serve as a lighthouse for higher education across Idaho and the country. The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson foundation provided a $1 million lead gift— a milestone in the ongoing effort to renovate the building — that enabled new thinking about the role the building plays in teaching and learning. The gift made it possible to redesign the building’s interior, rather than just erect an asbestos-free version of the 1960s structure. Cannon Design, a world-renowned design-thinking firm, worked with architects to create a space that invites faculty, staff and students to use the building as a learning tool. The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson foundation is a private family foundation that honors the legacy of Joe and Kathryn Albertson, and we are grateful for their generous support. The family's investment in teacher preparation has helped the University of Idaho reach new levels in our legacy of leading.
Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest Tickets on Sale 
Tickets for the general public are on sale now for the 48th annual University of Idaho Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. The festival runs Feb. 25-28. Tickets are available for all evening concerts with prices ranging from $20-$50 per night, with discounts for participating students and youth. Festival attendees can purchase tickets online or by calling toll-free 1-88-88-UIDAHO (choose option 1, then option 3) or local 208-885-7212. “These artists are traveling hundreds of miles — often from across the country — to perform in this amazing festival,” said Steven Remington, festival executive director. “The artists and jazz educators we invite are dedicated to performing for our community, fans and students.”

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