The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2015-05-08:
Our Vandal Alumni Family

Please note: this is an archived email message and may not display as originally intended. Some images, links, and functionality may be broken or out of date.

FRIDAY LETTER: Our Vandal Alumni Family
Dear Friends,

Nearly one year ago today, I happened to be at the airport in Louisville, Kentucky, more than 2,100 miles from Moscow. I had been president of the University of Idaho for a little over a month, and was decked out in a still-new Vandals cap. From behind me, I heard someone sing a refrain that had already become a favorite of mine: “Came a tribe from the North, brave and bold. …” I’d been spotted, by a stranger, one who was unafraid to break into the Vandal fight song in a crowded airport. It was a stirring welcome to the unabashedly passionate Vandal alumni family.

The Vandal alumni network of more than 100,000 people may be separated by years, professions and sometimes many miles. But all are united by a passion for the University of Idaho. The energy and enthusiasm of our alumni help our university continue to thrive, and their personal and professional distinction verifies the transformative impact of a Vandal education.

Next week we honor several outstanding Vandal alumni. Kristin Armstrong Savola receives our rarely bestowed Distinguished Idahoan award, recognizing the great distinction she has brought to the state and to UI; Kristin won two Olympic gold medals in cycling, most recently in the 2012 London summer games. We also honor Keith Riffle, a gifted technology entrepreneur, who receives the President’s Medallion; Patricia Riffle, a longtime participant in many Vandal causes, who earns an Alumni of Distinction Award; and Brent Keeth, a leader in the computer technology industry and co-principle developer on Micron’s Hybrid Memory Cube, who receives an honorary degree.

We’ll also induct three very deserving members into our Alumni Hall of Fame. Richard Dahl has had a remarkable career, including a tenure as president of Dole Food Company. David Poe, as CEO of financial services firm Edgar Dunn and Company, helped develop e-commerce and mobile payment solutions. David is joined by Michael Hunter, who has an accomplished career as an energy sector executive. All three offer their service on the University of Idaho Foundation Inc. board of directors.

Many alumni have given back generously to the university, helping us successfully complete the largest fundraising campaign in the history of Idaho. In addition to that support, alumni share their time and talents in other ways: helping students with internships, encouraging students to attend UI, and championing the university with their friends and in their communities.

One of the fun things about the end of spring semester is that it is packed with chances to connect with our alumni, seeing them come back to campus as speakers, as award winners and as parents of Vandal graduates. I’ve had the opportunity to watch fifth- and even sixth-generation Vandals receive degrees. That’s a powerful statement about our role in the state of Idaho, our continued vibrancy as an institution and our forward-looking vision for the future.

As one final note, we tragically lost a Vandal family member this week when Sergeant Greg Moore, a 16-year veteran of the Coeur d’Alene Police Department, was killed in the line of duty. Sergeant Moore was a member of the Vandal class of 1997. We mourn his passing, and respect and honor his selfless dedication to public service and to the city of Coeur d’Alene. Our thoughts are with his family and the Coeur d’Alene community.

Chuck Staben portrait


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

United Dairymen Support Sustains CALS and Athletics
The United Dairymen of Idaho support the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and Vandal Athletics in a variety of ways. Primary support has involved providing internships and research funding, supplying nutritious chocolate milk to rehydrate student-athletes, and supporting Celebrating Idaho Agriculture events. This year, the United Dairymen of Idaho also provided a cooler to store milk in the Vandal Weight Room and developed videos on how healthy eating and physical activity impact student success, including one that featured football player and dietetics major Deon Watson. “Our support for the University of Idaho directly reflects the core values of Idaho’s dairy farm families. They believe strongly in the importance of educational opportunity and the benefits of healthy eating and physical activity on life-long achievement,” said Karianne Fallow, CEO of the United Dairymen of Idaho. “The program backing we provide aligns well with those principles.” For more information, contact Kim O’Neill, CALS assistant dean of advancement, at 208-885-8606 or
UI Scores Well in Value-added Ranking for Graduate Success
The Brookings Institution’s new national college ranking based on student success after graduation puts the University of Idaho at the top of the list among higher education institutions in the state. Brooking’s new value added ranking considers graduate success based on three economic measures: midcareer earnings, occupational earnings power (the average salary of occupations alumni have) and student-loan repayment. UI graduates performed the best on all three outcomes against any other public four-year institution in Idaho, and UI was near the top of the pack in the Northwest, as well. UI’s scores on each measure, where 100 is the highest score possible, are midcareer earnings = 84, occupational earnings power = 96, and student-loan repayment = 61. Value-added rankings measure the difference between actual alumni outcomes (like salaries) and the outcomes one would expect given a student’s characteristics and the type of institution. That calculation determines the portion of alumni success that can be attributed specifically to the college.
Redesigned Web Page for Here We Have Idaho Magazine
As the University of Idaho rolls out a redesigned website, a process that will unfold over the coming months, Here We Have Idaho, the university’s alumni magazine, has a newly redesigned online home. Readers can now peruse feature stories, view a PDF of the entire magazine and even submit class notes online. The theme of this spring’s magazine is student success. The new web pages were made with responsive design, which provides an optimal viewing experience across various desktop, tablet and mobile devices.

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