The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2015-10-02:
Engaging with Our Tribal Partners

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October 2, 2015

Dear Friends,
This week at the University of Idaho, our College of Natural Resources (link) , Office of Tribal Relations (link) and tribal partners from across the region came together in an important summit at UI. The 2015 Tribal Natural Resource Education Summit brought together UI faculty members and administrators and tribal leaders and professionals. The summit is one example of how UI can collaborate with Native American communities to meet needs and embrace opportunities.

The summit grew out of discussions our university has had within the President’s Native American Advisory Council. Last spring as a council we worked to identify opportunities to leverage UI resources and expertise with the experience and insight of tribal leadership and professionals. Natural resources are an important part of tribal economies, culture and traditional knowledge, so as a group we realized that the College of Natural Resources had a role to play in partnership. The summit focuses on developing educational capacity within the college to enhance tribal workforce development.

The day-and-a-half summit features speakers, presenters and panelists from UI and from the tribal nations that have a memorandum of understanding (link) (MOU) with the university. That MOU is a guiding document that bespeaks a commitment to strengthening the relationship between the university and signatory tribes. (In Spring 2015 the Yakama Nation joined as the 10th MOU member.) I’m pleased that that this summit represents concrete action that aligns with that goal, and I look forward to more discussion with the MOU tribes in November at our next advisory council meeting.

Next summer the university’s engagement with tribes will reach across an even broader spectrum of Native American communities. The University of Idaho will host the first-ever National Tribal Climate Boot Camp , with members of tribes from across the United States convening at our McCall Field Campus. Tribal leaders will work with faculty from UI and other research universities on programs and training for the week-long educational experience. It’s another opportunity to examine needs and opportunities, learn from traditional knowledge and perspectives, and find ways to partner in addressing the challenges posed by climate-related impacts.

Many people at UI work very hard to create an environment for collaboration with our Native American partners. It’s an area where we’ve exercised leadership and have taken steps to better sustain the resources found at our state’s leading, national research university. It’s also undoubtedly an area where we can do more. I’m grateful to have MOU tribes engaged with us on improvement, and I know that all of us will benefit from that hard work in the future.

Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben


Dotys Honor Legacies with CLASS Support

College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) alumni Ben ’53 and Pat Doty ’54 cherished their experience at the University of Idaho. It's not only where they met, but it is also where they received the education that gave them a jumpstart in life. Their life together has taken them to amazing places and amazing heights. Ben served as a major general in the army while Pat took command in successfully raising their children. Their Vandal experience meant so much to them that Ben recently created a new endowment in journalism and political science that will provide two scholarships and a faculty award. "We are honored that Ben has chosen to honor the Doty family legacy with these two scholarships and a faculty award in CLASS,” said CLASS Dean Andrew Kersten. “His gift will have a significant and lasting impact for years to come.” For more information on supporting the programs in CLASS, contact Peter Mundt at (208) 885-5013 or (link) .

Dean Baird Honored as Librarian of the Year

Lynn Baird worked her first library job as an undergraduate student at University of Pacific, putting labels on the spines of books. It was there and by attending a conference with the university's librarians that she became inspired to begin a career in library sciences - a path that has led her to being selected as this year's Librarian of the Year by the Idaho Library Association. Baird, along with some of her librarians, will attend the awards ceremony and banquet Thursday at Boise State University. Baird said all of the work she's done throughout the years, including with international organizations, has been to help advance libraries in a way that everyone has access and an opportunity to gain knowledge.

Sage Grouse Listing Validates Collaborative Approaches

The decision on Tuesday, Sept. 22, by the Department of Interior to not list sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act validates the hard work and collaboration of many agencies, landowners and the University of Idaho. “Conserving sage grouse is a complex challenge that requires the collective efforts of land managers, scientists and all those who enjoy the vast sagebrush ecosystems. This announcement is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of many people,” said Karen Launchbaugh, professor in the College of Natural Resources and director of the UI Rangeland Center. The Rangeland Center has been a leader in helping ranchers better understand the relationships between grazing and sage grouse habitat. “I am encouraged that research, education and management can join together in efforts to sustain the ecological and economic values that we hold dear in the west,” Launchbaugh said.

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