The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2015-12-04:
UI Leads the Way in Outdoor Adventure

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December 4, 2015

Dear Friends,
Our state is filled with a remarkable abundance of mountains, canyons, rivers and wide-open spaces. With nearly unlimited opportunities for exploration, there is no better launching pad for educational and inspirational adventure than the University of Idaho. That’s a discovery I’ve been fortunate to make, alongside students, faculty and staff, alumni and community members from across the state.

Last week, while many of us were staying warm over turkey and other holiday favorites (link) , a UI Outdoor Program (link) group was braving the elements in the Owyhee Canyonlands in southwest Idaho. The 10 hardy souls — students, student leaders, program staff, an alumnus and a visiting professor — hiked and camped throughout this new wilderness area in a remote part of the state, exploring the sagebrush steppes and the austere river canyons. The multi-day trip was one of many “Iconic Idaho” recreational opportunities through our Outdoor Program that showcase the unique and diverse natural splendor of Idaho. The 40-year-old Outdoor Program office at UI, led by Director Trevor Fulton, is nationally recognized (link) . You couldn’t ask for a better guide to Idaho’s wild spaces.

Those programs do more than offer recreation, though. They help students build a foundation of technical skills that they can apply to future endeavors. They offer opportunities for students to practice leadership. Student leaders work with staff to plan and execute trips, helping others cultivate a passion for the outdoors. Other skill development includes problem-solving, critical thinking and good decision-making. Not all student participants are recreation majors; in fact, many if not most are pursuing other disciplines, from business to engineering and more. Faculty members, UI staff, and alumni can also participate in trips.

It’s important to dispel a few myths when discussing our Outdoor Programs. First, none of us are born adventurers or explorers, so most of the programs are designed to serve the absolute beginner while still offering value to more experienced participants. Affordability is another concern, no doubt. But whether it’s a trip or the rental of equipment from our well-stocked Outdoor Rental Center (link) — one of the largest such rental shops in the country — the Outdoor Programs office runs on a strictly non-profit basis, with costs that students will find within their reach. (A simple overnight trip might be $25, and a weeklong trip under $200, for instance.)

I bring up that commitment to accessibility and affordability because I know that students and other adults might find pursuing new skills and experiences — whether it’s skiing, kayaking, backcountry camping and more — a little daunting. But pushing yourself with new experiences is what higher education is all about. There is more to college than what you’ll find between the walls of a classroom or laboratory. Taking a facilitated trip, renting equipment to explore on your own, or even just using the climbing wall (link) at the Student Recreation Center are great ways to relieve stress and begin developing into the person you want to be, physically and mentally. It’s all part of a well-rounded college experience.

We have another holiday coming up, and a winter break. Want a break from cabin fever? The Student Recreation Center is open, with many opportunities for families and community members. Climb a wall. Tune up a pair of skis. Learn more about a winter or spring trip with Outdoor Programs — sign-up begins the first day of spring semester. Get out and discover this great state we’re lucky and proud to call home.

Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben


1941 Alumna Keeps Physically and Fiscally Fit

Dr. Lucille Pederson Hardgrove, age 95, goes to the gym every day to keep physically fit. A resident of Michigan, Lucille was featured on TV news (link) for visiting the gym last summer in Roanoke, Virginia, while visiting her brother. Lucille also makes wise choices when it comes to keeping fiscally fit. She makes her annual gift to UI with appreciated stock <[dead link]" >(link) . Her gift to UI allows her to take an income tax deduction for the full value of the stock and avoid paying tax on the capital gain. This year, Lucille’s gift went to the Jerard M. Pederson Scholarship Endowment in the College of Engineering in memory of her late husband, Jerry (’42 Civil Engineering). Because Jerry was a GE retiree, Lucille’s gift is matched (link) by the GE Foundation, thereby doubling the impact for engineering students at the university — another wise fiscal move. For more information, contact Sharon Morgan at 866-671-7041 or (link) .

UI Awards 714 Degrees at Fall Commencement Ceremony

Graduating students are eligible to receive a combined 714 degrees in December at the University of Idaho fall commencement ceremony (link) . Candidates applied for 464 baccalaureate degrees, 183 master’s degrees, 60 doctoral degrees and seven specialist degrees. Approximately 692 UI students statewide are eligible for graduation from the University of Idaho this fall, earning a total of 714 degrees. This fall's commencement brings the university's all-time totals to 113,657 graduates and 121,766 degrees. The fall commencement ceremony will take place at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, in the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center. The commencement speaker will be UI Provost and Executive Vice President John M. Wiencek. Lineup for commencement begins at 11:30 a.m. Doors open for the public at 11 a.m. General seating in the Kibbie Dome is free and available on a first-come, first-served basis. No tickets are required. Live web captioning in English and Spanish will be available during the ceremony, accessible through mobile devices. The ceremony may also be viewed live at (link) .

UI Names New Director of the Integrated Design Lab in Boise

The University of Idaho has named Elizabeth Cooper the new director (link) of the College of Art and Architecture’s Integrated Design Lab (IDL) (link) based at UI Boise. Cooper is also an associate professor of architecture. She started in her new role in October, having served as the interim director of the IDL since June 21, 2015. The Integrated Design Laboratory provides building owners, architects and engineers with design education technical design assistance, research, resources and other services to promote the development of high-performance, sustainable buildings in Idaho and Eastern Oregon. Design teams that utilize the resources available through the IDL will design buildings that are more comfortable for people, require less energy to maintain and operate, and enhance the health and productivity of their inhabitants.

“My vision for the University of Idaho Integrated Design Lab is to build upon the solid foundation of energy efficiency research and to expand the definition of high performance buildings to include human health, water resources, and integration into the site and community while fostering an atmosphere of collegiality in which exploration and creativity is encouraged,” Cooper said.

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