The Friday Letter Archive

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Friday Letter 2016-01-22:
An Investment We Can’t Afford Not To Make

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January 22, 2016

Dear Friends,
Next week I will present the University of Idaho’s budget priorities before committees of the Idaho Legislature, sharing the story of our success and how we can build on that excellence. As our state’s land-grant institution, UI conducts teaching and learning, research and discovery, and outreach and Extension. Our ability to meet these responsibilities with effectiveness and strong fiscal stewardship means that public support of the University of Idaho is a sound investment in a great future.

What do we mean by “investment”? The economic impact report (link) I shared two weeks ago offers some insight. Across the board, UI delivers return on investment (link) for our students, our citizens and our state. The report convincingly demonstrates that higher education is not a luxury, and it is not an expense. It is the foundation for our shared prosperity. At the legislature, I will explore the success of previous years of investments, and make the case for programs and initiatives that will allow us to do more.

Last week, Governor Otter offered his budget recommendations (link) as part of the State of the State Address. Though not directive, these recommendations often form the basis of legislative appropriations. The governor’s budget includes an increase in the Opportunity Scholarship, a new Completion Scholarship and an innovative Tuition Lock program. These programs offer ways to expand access to higher education. The tuition lock program provides stability and predictability for Idaho students and families, and it is philosophically consistent with commitments we have made as a university to ensure access and affordability.

The Governor also recommended a change in employee compensation of 3 percent, which will help us remain competitive in attracting and retaining outstanding educators and researchers, essential to the excellence of the student experience and our ability to do great work for Idaho.

Specific UI requests focus on enhancing our teaching and research missions. Our Complete College Idaho: Go On initiative bolsters the advising, counseling and supplemental instruction that helps students succeed in college. The effort will help ensure on-time graduation and improved student retention. On each of those measures, UI is the state’s leader among public institutions, but expanded capacity means we can set the bar higher.

The Governor also recommended five additional seats and increased funding for Idaho WWAMI — Idaho’s medical school. Through the Idaho WWAMI program, aspiring physicians from our state receive training in partnership with one of the best medical programs in the country, the national leader in family and rural medicine. With a shortage of physicians across our state, especially in rural areas, we’re fortunate to have a partnership that sees more than 50 percent of Idaho students return home to Idaho communities to practice medicine. Funding the Idaho WWAMI program is a much-needed investment in the health and well-being of our state.

As a comprehensive research university, we have other areas of need for which I’ll advocate. Those needs include maintenance and operation funds for facilities, such as our new Aquaculture Research Institute laboratory that delivers research expertise for our state’s world-class trout industry and hands-on learning for students, and for the new Integrated Research and Innovation Center (IRIC) that will propel interdisciplinary problem-solving and discovery for all of Idaho. We advocated for, and the Governor recommended, investments in our Idaho Geological Survey, in Forest Utilization Research, and in agricultural research that support the backbone of Idaho’s economy.

We appreciate the governor’s recognition of the excellence these initiatives help our university achieve, and how they help our state meet its short- and long-term goals for success and prosperity. The legislative process is a long process that usually culminates in March, but our first steps are promising.

Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben


HP Inc. Gifts $60,000 in New Technology

Thanks to a generous gift from HP Inc., the newly renovated College of Education building will be equipped with cutting-edge technology to enable creativity, engagement and productivity. The gift includes a complete podium-based technology suite, study spaces with table-mounted HP monitors, a mobile cart loaded with HP Chromebooks, HP printers on three floors, and two interactive, updatable touchscreens displays placed at building entrances to feature events, provide degree program information, and share inspiring stories across the university. “This gift helps ensure that the education building features state-of-the-art equipment that encourages student and faculty collaboration, as well as pride in a very high-tech, modern facility for the campus and for College of Education students,” said Cori Mantle-Bromley, dean of the College of Education. For more information about partnering with the University of Idaho, contact Bobbi Hughes, director of corporate and foundation relations at (208) 885-5303 or (link) .

UI Highest in PayScale College Salary Report

The 2015-2016 PayScale College Salary Report (link) marks the University of Idaho as the top school in Idaho for graduate earnings and as a top school among other regional institutions. Understanding earnings potential helps students choose a school that will be an investment in their long-term financial security and that will spur opportunities to find personally meaningful careers. University of Idaho alumni earn the highest salaries early career and mid-career salaries of graduates from any public four-year institution in Idaho. UI awards the highest percentage of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) degrees in the state, and graduates report a high degree of meaning in their professional lives. Among Idaho public and private four-year institutions, only BYU-Idaho records higher early career salaries, though Vandal grads in mid-career earn more. One PayScale list compares those with only a bachelor’s degree, and another compares those with a master’s degree. On each list, UI and Vandal graduates lead the way in Idaho and fare very well in the region.

Pilot Program Brings Diverse Students to UI Law

The University of Idaho College of Law is one of four law schools around the nation participating in a new program (link) aimed at increasing diversity among law professionals. Created by the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO), the Legally Inspired Cohort (CLIC) is a pilot program that will recruit individuals from a range of backgrounds and offer continuous academic, financial and other support services through their first year of law study. The College of Law’s entering juris doctor (JD) Class of 2015 is 41 percent female, 59 percent male and 16 percent multicultural. As one of the four partners in this pilot program, the college will prepare even more historically underrepresented minorities, economically disadvantaged individuals, and first-generation college students to attend law school and succeed in the legal profession. Students accepted to the program will receive a $5,000 out-of-state tuition waiver from the UI College of Law and $500 from CLEO to cover enrollment costs. Each student studying at UI will also be assigned a third-year law student as a mentor.

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