The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2015-08-28:
Foundations for a Safe Campus

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August 28, 2015

Dear Friends,
As a father of three college-age children, I’ve had to drop my students off at college three times. That’s a tough experience for any parent — leaving your loved one in a new place, on their own with new people and new experiences. At the University of Idaho, we’re trusted to provide a safe, positive educational experience for students. As I told parents and guardians at Convocation last week, that’s a commitment we take seriously, and we strive to maintain a campus environment that offers each student the chance to learn and grow as individuals and as members of a caring community.

UI has been and continues to be a safe campus for all the members of our community. A safe campus environment starts with clear expectations about how students treat one another and what resources and support are available. For the third consecutive year, incoming full-time undergraduates at UI are required to take a “Think About It” (link) course. This interactive program poses realistic scenarios and offers opportunities for guided self-reflection. Focusing on sexual assault, alcohol and drug use, and healthy relationships, this program has accomplished very high completion rates. Now in its third consecutive year of implementation at UI, the program has been updated to include understandings of survivor trauma and keep up with compliance measures in federal regulations.

Promotion of campus safety takes center stage soon during the fourth annual Campus Safety Week (link) , September 14-19. A number of partners across campus, including student groups and leaders, will come together for events that promote a safe campus. The “I Got Your Back” campaign highlights Vandals taking care of Vandals. The “Green Dot” program highlights the importance of bystander intervention. This year I’ll proudly attend the “Take Back the Night” rally that raises awareness about sexual assault and violence prevention. Teaching skills, highlighting resources and promoting attitudes, these programs can stay with our students all year.

It’s also important that we have the infrastructure that promotes a safe campus. Throughout the fall and spring we’ll be installing additional security cameras in our common areas and in access points to key buildings. This is a project we’ve made a special effort to fund, and we’re phasing it in over time as feasible. The additional cameras bolster an already strong network, affording UI security and law enforcement personnel the opportunity to better monitor activity and take action when needed.

From individual behavior, to group consciousness, to physical tools and resources, there are many facets to campus safety. Our evolving university programs and practices are a strong foundation for a safe campus. We can all be glad that we have dedicated students, faculty and staff who know that we are a stronger community when we look out for each other as a Vandal family. Driving away from campus after dropping off a student is tough enough — parents and families leave UI knowing that their student is in a place that supports them on their educational journey.

Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben

Here's the Latest News from the University of Idaho

Local Vandals Leaving Their Mark on Idaho Athletics

Melissa ’04 and Dustin Weitz of Moscow have been loyal supporters of the Vandal Scholarship Fund (link) for years. Melissa just completed her tenure as vice president of the Latah County Vandal Booster Club where she served on the event committee for the local VSF golf tournament. With her help, they raised a record $59,573. The most popular auction item that night was a Vandal golf cart, donated by the Weitz family, that sold for $6,000. “I think it is important for all alumni to give back,” said Melissa. “We choose to support the VSF because it benefits the university as a whole.” This fall, she will serve as president of the Latah County Vandal Booster Club. “I am thrilled to lead the local board. We have an amazing group of volunteers who work hard to give back to the university.” For more information on the Vandal Scholarship Fund, please contact Brent Vicino at 208-885-0216 or (link) .

UI and WSU Receive Wildfires Grant

More than 6,000 fires have burned more than 1 million acres in the Northwest so far in 2015, with experts predicting continuing severe wildfires in coming years. To help Northwest communities prepare for the future, University of Idaho and Washington State University researchers are studying ways to increase communities’ ability to withstand and recover from wildfires with the support of a new $2.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation. An interdisciplinary research team will focus on improving models that predict where fires are likely to occur, how severe they will be and whether they are likely to produce post-fire floods and landslides. The team will then create a virtual early warning system to help identify particularly vulnerable communities and ecosystems in the region. The researchers will work closely with an advisory team of academic, government and industry stakeholders to help translate the research results into action plans for communities at risk.

UI Highly Ranked in Washington Monthly

The University of Idaho ranks No. 61 in the nation (link) among national universities, according to Washington Monthly’s 2015 rankings released Monday. Only the University of Washington ranked higher among national universities in the Northwest. The rankings are based on “contribution to the public good,” which include social mobility, research and service. UI scored especially high in the “service” subcategories, including Peace Corps participation, ROTC programming, and financial aid support. On Washington Monthly’s separate “Best Bang for Your Buck” ranking, UI placed No. 43 among more than 200 schools in the Western region. The “Best Bang for Your Buck” (link) rating reflects “the best value for your money” based on factors including net price, graduation rates and financial success after graduation.

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