The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2015-10-16:
Be a Vandal VIP

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October 16, 2015

Dear Friends,
As president of the University of Idaho, I’m often asked about our current work and future initiatives — as one would expect. Oftentimes, such questions are posed in an interesting way: What are you doing about enrollment? How will you ensure access and affordability for more students? Now, that phrasing often just reflects a shorthand approach to a complicated topic, but the real question is how we will all work together to move the university and Idaho forward.

Of course, our staff and faculty are working very hard on many initiatives, including increasing enrollment. But the university has a not-so-secret weapon that I think we can engage more fully: the Vandal alumni base. This is a network — a family, we proudly say — of more than 100,000 people who have experienced firsthand the transformative impact of a Vandal education. What better ambassadors could there be for the University of Idaho?

With that in mind, I’m pleased to announce our new Vandals in Partnership (VIP) program (link) . The Vandals in Partnership program taps into the enthusiasm and experience of alumni volunteers to make a difference for undergraduate student enrollment. It starts with our successful “Grow the Gold” (link) program, which asks alumni to nominate students for admission to UI, kicking off a relationship between a prospective student and UI. The new VIP program goes beyond “Grow the Gold,” giving alumni volunteers the chance to get involved in undergraduate student recruitment at whatever level of commitment makes sense for them.

Want to share your personal story with prospective students at recruitment events? Want to get involved with UI admissions and alumni representatives to discuss approaches to recruitment? Want to really get involved by participating in panels at events, meeting one-on-one with students, or attending college fairs and other events as a UI representative? We want to use your time and talents. Your first step is simply visiting the Vandals in Partnership (link) website for more background, and a quick sign-up. VIPs will receive a packet of information about being a volunteer recruiter, and we’ll work with you to provide all the material you need to represent your university.

Growing enrollment (link) has been a goal of mine since I started as president at the University of Idaho. It is our mission as a university to serve the students of Idaho and beyond. Education unlocks doors for students, strengthens communities, and unleashes innovation and growth for industry in our state and our world. We’re going to keep spreading that message, and you’ll hear more from me on this topic in the weeks ahead. Our alumni already know very well with the value of an education from Idaho’s leading, national research university, and that’s why we’re enlisting that insight and passion.

What are we doing to shape the future of the University of Idaho, and change the college-going culture in Idaho? That’s a question that, through the VIP program, can be answered by the best ambassadors a university can have — the alumni and friends who are committed to sharing its good work.

Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben


American Chemical Society Supports Future Teachers

The American Chemical Society recently made a $12,000 gift to the Department of Chemistry. The gift will fund two scholarships for chemistry majors who are planning to become high school chemistry teachers as part of the ACS-Hach Land Grant Undergraduate Scholarship Program. The program was initiated by the Hach Scientific Foundation, which was established in 1982 by Hach Company founders Clifford and Kitty Hach, and was transferred to ACS in 2009. In total, the Hach Foundation and ACS have provided more than $100,000 in scholarship funding for UI students. “Receiving the ACS-Hach Scholarship has made my dream of teaching chemistry to high school students a reality,” said Megan Paul, a current recipient. “I am able to attend school without worrying about how I am going to finance my education. I am so thankful for this scholarship.” For more information about giving to the College of Science (link) , please contact Eric Bennett at (208) 885-9106 or (link) .

Professor Chosen as One of Most Innovative Educators

UI Chemical and Materials engineering faculty member Soumya Srivastava has been selected by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) as one of the nation's 70 most innovative, young engineering educators (link) . Srivastava’s research focuses on electrokinetic simulations and design of microfluidic systems for medical diagnostic applications along with educational research including enhancing student engagement and learning. She currently teaches courses in bioengineering, process analysis and controls, and engineering thermodynamics and heat transfer. “My approach to teaching involves active student engagement and enhancing learning through short activities to develop discussions on the practical applications of course content,” Srivastava said. “I ask students for regular feedback by incorporating it into biweekly class assignments.” Srivastava operates the Microfluidics and Electrokinetics bioSeparation and Analysis (MESA) Laboratory, which studies microfluidic transport phenomena and the design of fluidic devices with health care applications. Srivastava’s MESA lab supports the research and education of two graduate students and three undergraduate research assistants. One of the lab’s goals is to design commercially viable microdevices for clinical diagnostics.

Grant Provides Rehabilitation Counseling Scholarships

University of Idaho faculty members in the Rehabilitation Counseling and Human Services Program (RCHS), in the College of Education’s Department of Leadership and Counseling, have been awarded a five-year, $1 million Rehabilitation Training grant (link) from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services-Rehabilitation Services Administration to provide academic training in vocational rehabilitation counseling and attract highly capable applicants. Employment of rehabilitation counselors is expected to grow by 28 percent from 2010-20, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The grant will help attract more candidates to become rehabilitation counselors in Idaho and will support students through scholarships to attend the two-year Rehabilitation Counseling and Human Services master’s program at UI’s Boise or Coeur d’Alene locations. The university plans to award the first seven scholarships to current enrolled students at the UI RCHS program and continue awarding scholarships to 42 students during the next five years.

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