The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2015-09-18:
A Center of Excellence – in the Center of Boise

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September 18, 2015

Dear Friends,
Next week we celebrate the opening of the new Idaho Law and Justice Learning Center (link) in Boise, a collaboration between our University of Idaho College of Law and the Idaho Supreme Court. In the former Ada County Courthouse, a stone’s throw from the Capitol, the center is a unique venue for legal education and civic engagement, and hosts the Idaho State Law Library. I’m looking forward to the impact this center will have for students, for faculty members and for legal education in our state. The ILJLC is the culmination of Don Burnett’s vision; I thank our former president and dean of the law school on behalf of our state and our university.

The new center offers an opportunity to further extend UI’s superb legal education to our state’s largest urban center. UI expanded to include a second year of programs in Boise, and we plan to add a first-year component (link) to that program in 2017, pending approval from the State Board of Education and the American Bar Association. This dual-location approach presents a flexible way for students to take advantage of a UI legal education that is clearly in demand. Many law schools nationwide are experiencing enrollment declines, but UI Law has successfully navigated a challenging environment while maintaining quality and increasing resident students and diversity.

The careers and good works of Vandal graduates prove UI Law’s excellence every day. For many years our law school graduates have been leaders in bench and bar in the courtrooms of Idaho. Currently four of the five justices on the Idaho Supreme Court, and three out of the four justices on the Idaho Court of Appeals call UI their alma mater. A UI grad, Linda Copple Trout, was the first female justice named to the Idaho Supreme Court — one of many groundbreaking Vandal graduates who have emerged from our law school.

Not all graduates serve in the legal profession, of course. Vandals from the College of Law include leaders such as Frank Shrontz, the former CEO of Boeing; Mas Kawana, a 2006 J.D. recipient from UI, the executive director and head of tax operations for JPMorgan Chase in New York; and Nancy Morris, the former secretary of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. From business, to marketing, to government and beyond, it’s clear that a legal education from UI is great preparation for success in many careers.

While our law school continues to have a valued home in Moscow, we are excited to have future generations of leaders in many professions take classes in the heart of Boise. Dean Mark Adams recently said it well: “The hard work of many people is paying off in the opening of this center. It’s a great symbol for the exciting things that are happening at the College of Law. The future is filled with possibilities we’re ready to embrace.”

I share that optimism, and look forward to the Idaho Law and Justice Learning Center becoming a landmark of excellence of which all Idahoans can be proud.

Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben


Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation Supports UI

A gift of $535,000 from the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation to the University of Idaho will help fund student scholarships as well as furnishings for the newly renovated College of Education (link) . Half of the gift ($270,000) will go toward general scholarship funds, with an additional $15,000 to the Andrew Joseph “A.J.” Gray University of Idaho/WWAMI Scholarship Endowment. “It’s rewarding to provide more than 450 Idaho students a year some help with shouldering the rising economic burden of college fees and tuition,” said Harry Bettis, president of the Boise-based foundation, which has supported UI for more than 40 years. An additional $250,000 was gifted to the College of Education to assist in the furnishings and technology for the innovative design and renovation of the Moscow campus building. For information on supporting the College of Education, including the building renovation (link) , please contact Marta McClintock at (208) 885-7476 or (link) .

Salant Receives Award for Work with Hispanic Communities

Priscilla Salant, director of the James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research (link) at the University of Idaho Boise, will receive the Amiga del Año award from the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs (link) (ICHA) on Tuesday, Sept. 15. The award — which means “Friend of the Year” — is presented to a recipient who has gone beyond his or her work responsibilities to reach out to Hispanic communities in Idaho and who has a vested interest in the human rights issues that affect the Hispanic population. “Ms. Salant has demonstrated a sincere and caring role in closing the disparities that exist between the Hispanic and the non-Hispanic populations,” said Margie Gonzalez, ICHA executive director. “We are honored to be presenting this award; Ms. Salant is very deserving.” As director of UI’s McClure Center, part of the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, Salant conducts and promotes research on public policy issues that impact Idaho, the region and the nation. For the last 25 years, she has built connections between universities and their statewide constituents, with a focus on rural and leadership development.

College Scorecard Data Confirms UI Excellence

This week, the Obama administration and U.S. Department of Education unveiled College Scorecard (link) , a new data site that provides comprehensive data on education costs and student outcomes of universities across the nation. The new data showcases the University of Idaho’s graduation rate, average salaries after graduation, and affordability compared to other institutions (link) . “This new site is a wonderful tool for high school students and their parents to explore their educational opportunities,” said President Chuck Staben. “The side-by-side comparison makes it clear that a Vandal education is an affordable investment in a great future.” UI is above the national average for graduation rates (55 percent), first-year retention (79 percent) and graduate salaries. The data also reveals that over half of UI’s students receive federal assistance to help pay for college.

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