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Friday Letter 2015-09-25:
Two Great Traditions at UI

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Two Great Traditions at UI


September 25, 2015



Dear Friends,


This is a special weekend at the University of Idaho, as we come together for two special traditions: Celebrating Idaho Agriculture and Dad’s Weekend. Our state has been shaped by agriculture, from the wheat fields of the Palouse, to the potato, dairy and livestock industries in southern Idaho. The University of Idaho seeds innovation and education in this more than $25 billion industry that accounts for one in every seven jobs in the state. In classrooms, in fields and in Extension facilities statewide, agriculture is a field in which UI cultivates ideas that matter.
Food systems are critical in our hungry world, and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences contributes expertise and insight to meeting important challenges. In the nation’s No. 1 potato-producing state, the CALS potato team plays a key role in the development of new varieties, pest and disease management, storage and breeding. UI is the leader on a $3.2 million USDA-funded project to combat microscopic worms that threaten potato production. Similarly, UI is a leader in Idaho’s critical beef industry, with a talented and nationally recognized team of faculty members, researchers and Extension staff. I’m excited about extending our research impact into the established arena of dairy production. UI clearly has resources and expertise that can address issues and challenges within this fast-growing Idaho industry.
Our success as a leader in Idaho agriculture rests in great measure on our ability to effectively partner with industry. Our partnership with LimaGrain Cereal Seeds, for instance, means expedited commercialization of wheat varieties. Support from the Idaho Barley Commission and the Idaho Wheat Commission further propel research in issues critical to those industries. The J.R. Simplot Company is another important partnership that helps facilitate agricultural excellence.
UI continues to train generations of industry leaders. The list of Vandal alumni in agriculture reads like a “who’s who” of industry leaders. Phil Soulen, president of a family-owned livestock company and past president of the Idaho Wool Growers Association, is a UI alumnus and a member of our Alumni Hall of Fame. Annette Elg is senior vice president and chief financial officer for the J.R. Simplot Company. Joe Anderson, the Idaho Wheat Commission chairman, is a CALS graduate and highly involved alumnus. Lieutenant Governor Brad Little is a CALS grad with a family history steeped in the sheep industry. Our state’s governor, Butch Otter, can point to his time in 4-H as a formative experience. And in companies like Simplot, Agribeef and Glanbia, our graduates become valued employees, building careers that make an impact in Idaho and beyond.
We have a fun weekend planned, with activities and educational opportunities for community members of all ages, as well as prospective students — all great traditions. Hopefully Vandal Dads can take part with their sons and daughters, as well, building on that great Vandal tradition of family and agriculture. I encourage folks to come out, support the Vandals, learn about agriculture and maybe even take a picture with the Idaho Potato Commission’s “Big Idaho Potato.” Vandal excellence helps grow that potato, after all, and crops, cattle, sheep and more just as big and plentiful.


Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben






Idaho Farm Bureau Federation Supports CALS

In 26 years of giving, the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation has generously supported College of Agricultural and Life Sciences initiatives, including sponsoring the Collegiate Farm Bureau Club in national speaking competitions, having representation on the CALS Advisory Board and supporting UI Extension. Recently, the Federation gave funds to update the Iddings Agricultural Science Building lobby with informational computer displays and an animated ticker showing commodities prices. The new lobby will invite visitors to learn about and support Idaho agriculture. “We appreciate the University of Idaho’s efforts to educate the public and promote agriculture as a mainstay in Idaho’s economy,” said Rick Keller, CEO of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation. With representation in each county, the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation is a voluntary organization of farm and ranch families focused on advancing the industry, while promoting the national well-being. For more information, contact Kim O’Neill, CALS assistant dean of advancement, at (208) 885-8606 or


Murdock Grant Supports UI-Developed Technology

A team of University of Idaho researchers will spend the next year refining their unique technology so it’s ready to take the leap from the lab to the marketplace. A new program from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, the Commercialization Initiative, granted more than $55,000 to help UI physics professor David McIlroy and chemistry professor Frank Cheng, both of the UI College of Science, prepare their high-surface-area electrodes for commercial licensing. The UI President’s Office has provided additional funding for the project. McIlroy and Cheng’s electrodes combine two innovative materials: nanosprings and GUITAR. McIlroy invented nanosprings, which are tiny coils of silica 500 times thinner than a human hair. Cheng studies GUITAR, short for Graphene from University of Idaho Thermolyzed Asphalt Reaction, an unusual form of carbon that can be made from everyday materials such as roofing tar. Coating nanosprings with GUITAR creates an efficient, effective electrode that could be used in hydrogen-powered vehicles, chemical synthesis, batteries and more.


VandaLink Simplifies Transfer Process from NIC

The University of Idaho on Thursday launched a new VandaLink partnership with North Idaho College. The program simplifies process of transferring an associate’s degree from NIC to continue toward a bachelor’s degree. Part of a larger, statewide program that offers a seamless transfer experience between local community colleges and the UI, VandaLink provides admission without fees upon completion of an associate’s degree from participating schools. New students are encouraged to sign up for VandaLink soon after, or at the same time as, enrolling in NIC, to take advantage of the program’s coordinated academic advising, which includes a dedicated UI admissions counselor at NIC. Participation in VandaLink helps to ensure all credits transfer to UI. VandaLink also features new student orientation sessions for students in the program, along with priority registration and potential scholarships.


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