Friday Letter 2016-09-30:
Three Stories of Vandal Spirit and Success
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At our 108th Homecoming this weekend, our “Joe for the Gold” theme nods at this summer’s Olympics and UI’s excellence in preparing graduates for success. It has been a fun week filled with spirit competitions, our 67th annual blood drive, the annual Serpertine tonight and more. I’m looking forward to joining Vandals from near and far tomorrow at the parade and football game.
As I have worked at UI, I have been struck by the passion of our alumni. In particular, for many alumni, the Vandal spirit is handed down through generations — a family tradition of an outstanding academic experience that leads to great careers and great lives. I want to highlight three stories that exemplify that multi-generational Vandal success story.
Being a University of Idaho Vandal is a point of pride for Lieutenant Governor Brad Little and his wife, Teresa Soulen Little. The Littles are both native Idahoans and second-generation Vandals who followed in their parents’ footsteps to attend UI. Brad earned his degree in agribusiness, then put that degree to work helping to run his family ranch in Emmett. He and Teresa are proud that their two sons carried on the family tradition and also became Vandals. The Littles have served on several UI boards and participate in UI activities; in fact, it isn’t unusual to see the family together in Moscow cheering on the Vandal football team. Brad will be back in Moscow — his “home-away-from-home” — to participate in this weekend’s Homecoming activities, including the parade through downtown. The Littles are hoping to see their five grandchildren one day make their way down Hello Walk on their own journey toward a UI diploma.
Patty and Mike Fery, from Boise, are also multi-generational Vandals who care about giving back to UI. Patty, a communications graduate, has worked in marketing for high-profile Idaho companies. A dedicated Vandal volunteer, she helped reinvigorate our Parent and Family Association, offering information, resources and support for Vandal families. Her mother and father were UI graduates, in accounting and architecture, respectively. Mike serves on the Foundation board, and their children are following their example as Vandals, with one joining the ranks of our alumni and another soon to follow. Having had the good fortune to get know the Ferys, I especially admire Patty’s strong interest in helping students with learning disabilities succeed in school, and am glad we share that interest in helping all students flourish.
One more multi-generational success story, appropriate for this weekend. Flip Kleffner was our director of Alumni Relations for 15 years; he and his wife, Jo, were named “Idaho Treasures” in 2007. Vandal football fans recall that Flip, an Athletics Hall of Fame member, kicked an 82-yard punt against Washington State University in 1953. The Kleffners have generously supported the College of Education building renovation. They have also seen their five children and six grandchildren attend UI. I’ve met the Kleffners and am proud of their friendship and grateful for their continued support of UI.
Vandals, of course, who are the first generation in their family to attend UI, or to attend any institution. A UI degree positions graduates for long-term success, so I welcome all our new Vandals to start a family tradition of their own. For Vandals old and new, this will always be a place to come home to.Go Vandals!
P.S.: Are you a multi-generation Vandal family? Share your story with us, we’d love to hear it. We may post it at my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/uidahopresident. Go Vandals and happy Homecoming!