The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2015-11-13:
Vandal Leaders Give Back to UI

Please note: this is an archived email message and may not display as originally intended. Some images, links, and functionality may be broken or out of date.

November 13, 2015

Dear Friends,
This morning, perhaps as you’re reading this, I have the pleasure of speaking to an All-Advisory Board gathering here in Moscow. This is part of an annual event we call Leadership Weekend at the University of Idaho, a chance to keep our closest alumni and friends in the loop about UI life and activities, benefit from their wisdom and experience, and, in the midst of a busy semester, get a dose of refreshment and renewed energy from this group.

We have many advisory boards at UI, representing each of our colleges and our University Foundation. Each of those boards is entirely comprised of volunteers. These are alumni and others who are passionate about the excellence of each college, and who in many cases had transformative educational experiences here at UI. They are giving back their time and talent to making sure our programs are robust and forward-thinking for future generations of Vandals. You might not always see their names and faces out in front, but these women and men are championing the UI experience every day, and striving to make our university all that it can be.

At the board gathering this morning, I’ll offer a look into the state of the university, and try to answer questions about how UI is performing and where it is headed. We’re in the process of developing our new strategic plan (link) , an effort led by Provost and Executive Vice President John Wiencek, so it’s an opportune time to hear the insight of alumni and friends close to UI. We are committed to building a stronger university over the next 10 years, and a solid plan is central to achieving that goal.

On the subject of committed Vandals, Friday night marks our annual Recognition Gala in Moscow. This is another occasion to reconnect with supporters of the University of Idaho – the donors who help make transformative educations possible for students, and who make a commitment to ideas that matter in innovation and discovery. No university in this day and age can succeed without a dedicated network of private support. This year, even with the end of our Inspiring Futures: Invest in the University of Idaho campaign, we have realized a record fundraising total. That support, in the immediate future and in the long-term, will make a profound difference in the lives of students and for the exciting work that addresses issues and challenges in our lives.

Thanks to all alumni and friends to the university. For those students reading the Friday Letter, we hope you see in the leaders on campus this weekend a role model for success, for integrity and dedication, and for lifelong commitment to the Vandal family.

Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben


University Gala Recognizes 1889 Society

University of Idaho donors will gather tonight for the annual University Gala where several new members of the prestigious 1889 Society, recognizing alumni, friends and partners whose cumulative contributions total $1 million and more, will be inducted. The 2015 inductees include Ed and Barbara L. Bickford, Gerald Clark Blount and Mary Katherine Harris, Frances Tovey and Roy J. Ellsworth, Matthew James and Lori Susan Espe, Jeanette A. Hackney, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Victor H. and Ruth Nay Skiles, Syngenta Crop Protection Inc., and Dennis K. and Debra L. Ujiiye. The university will also welcome 32 new members into the Silver and Gold Society, which recognizes giving of $100,000 to $999,999. The names of the new members have been added to the university’s Legacy of Giving donor recognition display in the Administration Building foyer. For more information on giving to the University of Idaho, visit the Give to Idaho (link) website.

UI Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant

The University of Idaho is the recipient of a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations initiative grant (link) . Haiqing Sheng, a UI research scientist, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “CRISPR-Cas9 directed bacteriophage treatment of EPEC diarrhea.” The Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) initiative funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Sheng’s project is one of more than 50 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 15 grants announced Thursday by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Disease-causing E. coli bacteria are responsible for more than 30 percent of infant diarrhea cases in South Africa, Kenya, Bangladesh, Brazil and Mexico. Known as the enteropathogenic E. coli, or EPEC, the bacteria cause several hundred thousand childhood deaths per year worldwide. Sheng’s project will explore using probiotics to target the disease-causing E. coli to protect children’s health.

Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest Announces 2016 Artist Lineup

The University of Idaho Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival will celebrate its 49th year with an engaging lineup of world-renowned artists and jazz professionals (link) in Moscow, Idaho, Feb. 24-27, 2016, including the popular group Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, who will close out the festival. “This year’s theme, ‘Jazz Pathways to Discovery,’ has allowed us to present a wider range of music including funk, soul, rock, Prohibition-era jazz, as well as big band, swing, reggae, Afro-Cuban and straight-ahead jazz,” said Steve Remington, executive director of the festival. “I think there’s going to be something for everyone and it will be a real learning experience, especially for the younger students.” Tickets for the 2016 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival will be available online to the general public beginning Friday, Dec. 4. Full series tickets are available beginning Friday, Nov. 13, by calling the University Ticket Office: (888) 8-UIDAHO or (208) 885-7212. Visit (link) or call (208) 885-5900 for the most up-to-date festival information.

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