The Friday Letter Archive

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Friday Letter 2015-12-11:
Vandal Excellence – There’s an App for That

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 Some images, links, and functionality may be broken or out of date.

December 11, 2015

Dear Friends,
This week nearly 700 Vandals (link) approach the commencement stage as students, cross it as graduates and leave it as proud, degree-holding members of the Vandal family. Students have earned degrees at the baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral and specialist levels, across a broad spectrum of disciplines, as you’d expect from a comprehensive research university like ours. It’s another chapter in the story of the University of Idaho, one written by each student — in some cases, literally.

I have presided over a few of these ceremonies now, but it is still rewarding to see students achieve a goal for which they worked long and hard. If you’ve attended commencement, you might be familiar with the train of graduates, segmented by college, that enters the building at the start of the ceremony — a processional. The banner for each college is held by what we refer to as a highlight student, a graduate who has demonstrated the diligence, initiative and expertise to represent his or her college. I congratulate these students on their accomplishments.

As one example of this Vandal excellence, the processional highlight student for the College of Natural Resources is rangeland ecology and management major Justin Trujillo. Justin is a non-traditional student who came to UI to complete his bachelor’s degree and further his career. During his time with the Rangeland Center (link) , he noticed that there was no field guide for grasses. Instead of waiting for someone else to make one, he spent his undergraduate career taking photos, finding the funding and working with others to create a reference book.

In this day and age, of course, a book needs to find a way to fit on our phones, so Justin is now working with a partner to build a phone app. Picture hiking in Idaho, and being able to identify pieces of the diverse landscape around you, with just a glance down at your phone. Landowners, management professionals and recreational users can all benefit. That breakthrough is a testament to problem-solving, teamwork and leadership.

It’s also proof positive of what a college experience can do. Vandals crossing the stage today have exercised similar initiative in countless settings, in the classroom and outside of it. They’ve opened their minds to new ideas, and engaged in hands-on research, scholarly activity and creative work alongside expert professors. They’ve practiced discipline and honed the self-efficacy that will guide them in their careers. They’ve learned about issues and concerns outside of their own interests, giving back to communities (link) near and far through service.

I know our students will take those experiences with them after tomorrow. They’ll contribute their skills and passion to making the world a better place — indeed, they already have.

Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben


Backing Crucial Graduate Student Education

To recognize the impact that a University of Idaho education had on the lives of her and her late husband, Joy Irving ’64 recently named the UI as a $1.3 million beneficiary of her estate. Specifically, 50 percent will support the George Irving Chemical Engineering Scholarship Endowment, 25 percent will create the Joy Irving Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Fund and the remainder will create two endowments in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “Every year, UI competes to attract the finest graduate students,” College of Engineering Dean Larry Stauffer said. “Our success depends on many factors, including the vital financial support we are able to offer incoming students. With this gift, Joy is leading the way to provide a tremendous advantage in our graduate recruitment efforts.” For more information on supporting the College of Engineering, contact Mary Lee Ryba at (208) 755-4916 or (link) . For information on supporting CALS, contact Jen Root at (208) 885-4087 or (link) .

Vandals among IBR Top 50 Women of the Year

Four University of Idaho employees are among the Top 50 Idaho Business Review Women of the Year (link) for 2016. The recognized employees include Cori Mantle-Bromley, dean of the UI College of Education; Terri Muse, assistant dean for external relations at the UI College of Law in Boise; SeAnne Safaii-Waite, associate professor of family and consumer science for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at UI Boise and UI Coeur d’Alene; and Barbara Zanzig Lock, director of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic and lecturer of tax law at the UI College of Law in Boise. In addition, seven UI alumnae have made the IBR list of top 50 women in Idaho. Those honorees include: Nora Carpenter, president, CEO, United Way of Treasure Valley Inc., Boise; Colleen Asumendi Fillmore, state director, USDA Child Nutrition Programs, Boise; Johanna “Joey” Hale, director, internal audit, J.R. Simplot Company, Boise; Katherine Johnson, director of marketing and communications, Treasure Valley YMCA, Boise; Deneen May, vice president, Meridian Silverstone Financial Center, Zions Bank, Meridian; Amanda Watson, senior account executive, Red Sky, Boise; and Mary York, partner, Holland & Hart LLP, Boise.

Three UI Students Earn Gilman Scholarships

Three students from the University of Idaho have been selected to receive the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship (link) , sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, to study or intern abroad during the 2015-16 academic term. Clarisa Lopez of Burley, and Joshua Warnick and Tyler Mitchell of Coeur d’Alene, will be studying in France, Morocco and Japan, respectively. Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs. The program aims to diversify the students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go. Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages and economies — making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector. The program is administered by the Institute of International Education.

Borah Symposium Dates and Theme Announced

The University of Idaho’s Borah Foundation, located in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, has announced the date and theme for the 2016 Borah Symposium (link) . This year’s event runs Monday, April 4 through Wednesday, April 6, 2016, and will discuss “Waging Peace.” The annual Borah Symposium strives to bring together world leaders, diplomats, scholars, activists and our local communities to discuss the causes of war and the conditions for peace. The three-day symposium will focus on humanitarian action in the 21st century, kicking off on Monday, April 4, with a panel discussion on refugees. Human-rights activist and best-selling author John Prendergast will speak on Tuesday, April 5. For the first time, the Borah Symposium will also be holding programs in Boise. Samantha Nutt, founder and executive director of War Child Canada, will speak at Borah High School in Boise on April 5. On Wednesday, April 6, Nutt will give the symposium’s keynote address in Moscow.

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