The Friday Letter Archive

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Friday Letter 2015-03-27:
Tutxinmepu Powwow

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Dear Friends,
Regretfully, this morning’s letter listed the incorrect weekend for the Tutxinmepu Powwow. It takes place April 4-5 in Moscow. Click here for more event details. I hope you will join us then. The corrected letter appears below.
Chuck Staben

Dear Friends,
Starting at our main campus on the Palouse, in Nez Perce ancestral lands, the University of Idaho has always been a place where cultures converge, and where we grow stronger by learning from each other and sharing perspectives and traditions. The annual Tutxinmepu Powwow, occurring next weekend, April 4-5, in Moscow, is a great example of the thriving cultural traditions embraced at UI. Powwows are occasions to gather and pass on traditions and teachings — similar, in a very broad sense, to a university mission. We now have an opportunity to enhance that mission.

The Native American Student Center and the Native American Student Association put together the two-day powwow. I was able to attend last year, and this year I’ll have the honor of participating in the grand entry and other events. The public is welcome, and whether attendees volunteer or just take in the fun, it’s a showcase for the vibrant Native cultures in our region. Prospective students participating in the powwow also have the chance to experience our campus and Moscow, seeing what a great atmosphere our university community has to offer.

The Native American Student Center is at the heart of student life for many Native students. I’m proud of the role that the center plays in their UI experience. It’s a place to find academic, cultural and social support — to study and grow as students, to share interests and activities, and to hang out with friends and classmates. I know many talented leaders and future professionals are emerging out of the center and the Native American Student Association.

At an organizational level, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) strengthens UI’s relationship with nearby tribes. The tribes who have come together in this agreement participate in the President’s Native American Advisory Council, which seeks unity and cooperation among Native American students, signatory tribes and UI. A complementary Advisory Board meets twice a year and provides feedback on the development of curriculum, the recruitment and retention of Native American students, and the provision of support services and educational programs. We recently welcomed the Yakama Nation as the 10th signatory to this memorandum of understanding, and I’m very glad we can partner with them on higher education issues and work together to support student success.

I know that right away we can do more for more students. So after extensive deliberation with UI’s Office of Tribal Relations, tribal leaders and others, I have decided that enrolled members of MOU tribes and transfer students from tribal colleges will be eligible for in-state, undergraduate tuition rates at the University of Idaho. Some aboriginal elders and indigenous scholars have described post-secondary education as the “new buffalo,” a sustaining resource for individual and community-wide empowerment. We embrace facilitating that goal for students. In neighboring states, institutions in tribes’ traditional and customary ranges similarly partner with tribes to support access to post-secondary education.

It is my hope that access to one of the best values in higher education will make UI the college of choice for more tribal members. It is my firm belief that we will be taking important steps in building a more diverse, culturally responsive and outstanding University of Idaho for all people.


Chuck Staben portrait

Go Vandals!

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

Idaho Entrepreneurs Innovate Thanks to Moscow Jimmy John’s
On April 25, nearly 100 young entrepreneurs will be sharing their creativity and passion in search of the next big idea in business in the annual Idaho Entrepreneurs Business Plan Competition, held at the UI College of Business and Economics in Moscow. The owners of the new Jimmy John’s in Moscow, Ric ’77 and Kathy ’80 Rocca, have pledged $5,000 annually in support of the competition’s Small Business Track. “It’s terrific being back in Moscow as part of the community,” said Ric. “Kathy and I received a great education at the University of Idaho, and we love being able to support the entrepreneurial culture on campus.” Last spring, Altered Ego LLC won the Small Business Track and has launched in Moscow thanks to the prize money, gap funding and mentoring it received from Idaho Entrepreneurs. To help support future Idaho student entrepreneurs or the College of Business and Economics, please contact Toni Broyles at 208-885-2634 or
UI Joins National Engineering Education Initiative
The University of Idaho College of Engineering is among 122 U.S. engineering schools leading a transformative movement in engineering education announced this week by the White House. In a letter presented to President Barack Obama, UI College of Engineering and other engineering schools committed to establish special educational programs designed to prepare students to solve the “Grand Challenges” — complex yet achievable goals to improve national and international health, security, sustainability and quality of life in the 21st century. Together, the schools plan to graduate more than 20,000 formally recognized “Grand Challenge Engineers” over the next decade. “The UI Grand Challenge Scholars program will focus on five key elements: hands-on experience related to a Grand Challenge, interdisciplinary curriculum, entrepreneurship, global complexity and service learning,” said Larry Stauffer, dean of Engineering. “The goal is to graduate over 200 Grand Challenge Engineers from the UI by 2025 who are prepared with the unique combination of skills, motivation and leadership to address the Grand Challenges.”
Theater Student Wins National Stage Craft Award
Michael Brandt, a University of Idaho Theatre Arts student, has received national recognition for his stage craft work. A master’s degree candidate with an emphasis in design and technology, Brandt received the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas award for outstanding achievement in allied theater technology, crafts and design at the 2015 United States Institute of Theatre Technology conference held March 18-21, in Cincinnati. Brandt helped to design the puppets used in the 2014 UI and Idaho Repertory Theatre production of “A Christmas Carol.” On Feb. 21 he received a Kennedy Center American Colleges and Theatre Festival Region 7 award for his puppet engineering for the show. At the USITT conference, Brandt and seven other regional award winners displayed their work, gave brief presentations and answered questions from a panel of respondents, all practicing professionals representing a wide range of aspects from the live entertainment industry with expertise throughout the allied crafts and technology.

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