The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2015-10-09:
Our Purpose, Our Future

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October 9, 2015

Dear Friends,
This week I offered the 2015 State of the University address (link) to students, faculty and staff, community members and others who joined us over the web from near and far. I wanted to give everyone an update on some of our successes from the past year and current work upon which we’re engaged. Importantly, I also wanted to express my belief in our shared purpose as Idaho’s leading institution of higher education, and describe a vision for the University of Idaho’s next 10 years.

Across the state of Idaho, we are changing lives through access to an affordable, high-quality education at a research university. We can and will make that “transformative education” possible for more students. Too many qualified students, especially students from Idaho, don’t go on to postsecondary education. That represents lost opportunities for individual students, as well as for our state. With focus and innovation, over the next 10 years, we can reshape Idaho’s higher education landscape and strengthen our university. We have exciting initiatives that will bring the value of higher education to our state’s high school students, educating them about their options and communicating next steps (link) toward their pursuit of the American Dream.

Another area where our university excels, and where we can move forward with renewed focus, is in research, scholarly activity and creative work. At UI, that discovery and innovation is the pursuit of “ideas that matter (link) .” The caliber, scope and amount of research we do at UI sets us apart — double the combined total of other state institutions. We can be proud of the research that shapes our world for the better in everything from complex systems modeling, to wildfire research, to cybersecurity. Going forward, interdisciplinary research (link) will be the key to breaking new ground and accelerating the impact that UI has for our state and our world.

Lastly, I explored the urgency of “building our team.” We need to continue to make sure the university is a great place not just to work but to build a career, and that it is a purpose-driven organization, a vibrant intellectual community that attracts, retains, and develops great faculty and staff. It’s no secret that employee compensation that has lagged behind some of our peer institutions and regional competitors. To continue to attract and retain the workforce that makes our university be the best it can be, we need to meet goals for growth that allow us to invest in our people. You can’t buy loyalty, but you can lose loyalty. For our students and our state, we cannot let that happen.

Recently in my office, we found an old document — a plan by President Donald Theophilus, penned in 1959, and outlining a vision for the next 10 years, through 1970. Those themes and goals from more than 50 years ago still resonate today. That tells me that at UI, we know who we are. We know who we serve. And we know that we need to continue to work together to build a stronger UI … driven by purpose, motivated by excellence, and passionate about the future and all it will bring.

Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben


Grant Supports Main Street Legal Clinic

The Idaho Law Foundation recently awarded $15,000 to the University of Idaho’s College of Law for the Main Street Law Clinic (link) to support community redevelopment legal assistance. The funds will support the clinical training of law students as they assist low-income Idahoans, primarily from rural communities, who could not otherwise afford an attorney for matters related to landlord-tenant disputes; domestic relations including divorce, child custody and support, adoption and domestic violence protection orders; consumer matters; and wills and probate. “The Main Street Law Clinic provides a wonderful opportunity for law students to gain real-world experience (link) while serving people in need,” said College of Law Dean Mark Adams. “We are grateful for the Idaho Law Foundation’s support of this service.” For more information on giving to the College of Law, contact Terri Muse, assistant dean for external relations, at (208) 364-4044 or (link) .

New Dean Selected for College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

The University of Idaho is pleased to announce that Michael Parrella has accepted the position of dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences , effective Feb. 1, 2016. Parrella comes to UI from the University of California, Davis, where he has served as the chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology and associate dean of Agricultural Sciences. He has also served as the Western Regional Administrator for the IR-4 program and was a board member of the Sacramento/Yolo County Mosquito Abatement District, the California Crop Improvement Association, and the Robert Mondavi Institute for Food and Wine Science. “I am excited about joining the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Idaho. The president and provost have a wonderful vision to move the university forward, and CALS has a critical role to play,” Parrella said. “As the dean, I look forward to working with faculty, staff, students and stakeholders to make the college all that it can be.”

Former Chilean Judge Juan Guzman at Bellwood Lecture

The University of Idaho College of Law will host its annual Sherman J. Bellwood Lecture next week at its Boise and Moscow locations. The Boise program takes place Monday, Oct. 12, and will feature a film screening of the documentary “The Judge and the General” at 3 p.m. MDT at the Idaho Law and Justice Learning Center, 514 W. Jefferson Street. The documentary features the story of the Honorable Juan Guzmán, a former judge and current lawyer, who prosecuted many state agents for human rights crimes, including former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. The film will be followed by brief remarks from Guzmán and a welcoming reception. The Moscow program will also include a film screening of “The Judge and the General,” at 3:30 p.m. PDT, Tuesday, Oct. 13, in the courtroom of the Menard Building, followed by a panel discussion. Guzmán’s lecture, “Truth, Justice and Democracy: Post Dictatorship,” will be at 3 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday, Oct. 14, in the Bruce M. Pitman Center International Ballroom at the University of Idaho in Moscow.

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