The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2017-02-17:
Sharing Our Stories During Black History Month

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 Some images, links, and functionality may be broken or out of date.

February 17, 2017
Letter from the President
Dear Friends,
This past Wednesday, College of Law alumnus Reginald Reeves shared his perspective on the contributions of African-Americans and on philanthropy. Reeves, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, is the recipient of the Outstanding Public Service Award, our nation's highest award for volunteerism. His appearance is part of a robust series of Black History Month events at UI, and a reminder that our shared national history is often made up of individual and local stories of action and inspiration.
I met Reginald two years ago in Idaho Falls, and was struck by his story. A 1952 graduate, he came to Idaho from the pre-Civil Rights-era South, having seen historical photos of our diverse classes at UI. Mr. Reeves practiced law for many years in Idaho Falls and volunteers with local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and charities, even starting a prescription-assistance program for geographically isolated veterans. His admittance to the law program and success, at a time when African-Americans were often denied those opportunities, is part of a larger story of advancements toward integration and diversity at UI and in higher education.
Most Americans are familiar with the broader strokes of African-American history, and the roles of leading figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. But Black History Month helps us hear an often under-reported history, engage in a dialogue with each other, and find new understandings. We see how history is shaped by individual people, their battles connected to a broader fight.
In addition to the presentation by Mr. Reeves, our Black History Month programming includes our 14th annual Shades of Black show, seminars, and movie screenings. This year’s movie is “Hidden Figures.” As a space-grant institution, we can appreciate the story of how talented but overlooked African-American women were essential in getting astronaut John Glenn into orbit and safely home again. I’m looking forward to seeing this movie soon with my family.
Thank you to the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the College of Law, and the MLK/Black History Month Planning Committee and its many representatives from UI and the community, for putting together an educational and engaging program this month. These events help inform a more fully developed understanding of African-American life and history for all people, all year. It’s a time to honestly examine our shortcomings, and work together to create the best possible campus and world.
We owe a debt of gratitude to individuals like Reginald Reeves and the countless others who have contributed to a more diverse and connected society. That story shapes individual communities, institutions like the University of Idaho, and adds up to a profound and necessary change for our world.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben

Idaho Community Foundation Enables Idahoans to Support UI Students and Programs

The Idaho Community Foundation (ICF) has long supported the University of Idaho, with cumulative giving of more than $1.1 million to countless programs statewide. Over the past year the foundation has generously provided more than $54,000 in scholarship funds, including to students facing emergencies that risked interrupting their education. “We’re honored to be able to offer scholarships to so many deserving students to attend the University of Idaho, and to be able to support the University’s important programs,” said Karen Bilowith, ICF president and CEO. “Our focus is on collective giving and the difference Idahoans can make when we pool our philanthropic resources.” ICF has also generously supported programs such as the North Idaho Technology Outreach, the Auditorium Chamber Music Series Youth Outreach, and the North Idaho Non-profit Resource Center, helping to further the impact of UI’s engagement with students and communities. For more information about partnering with the University of Idaho, contact Casey Hanson, director of corporate and foundation relations, at 208-885-7053 or

Jazz Fest Ticket Sales and Participation Increase

The University of Idaho has seen a surge in interest for the 50th anniversary of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, with student participation increasing more than 13 percent. The festival, which runs Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 23-25, will bring approximately 4,200 students from 133 schools throughout Idaho, Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, Canada to campus. That’s about 500 more students than in 2016, Jazz Fest Manager Aaron Mayhugh said. “We are so glad that jazz educators, students and fans are excited about this year’s festival,” Mayhugh said. “With a fantastic lineup of free workshops, as well as three nights of amazing jazz performances, this year’s festival is one that you won’t want to miss.” Ticket sales have more than doubled for both Thursday and Saturday nights and sales for Friday night are up by more than 300 seats. Tickets are available through the University of Idaho Ticket Office located in the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center, by phone at 1-888-8-UIDAHO or online at Prices range from $15-$45 per night, and special UI employee, student and youth ticket prices are available. For more information on the 2017 festival, visit, follow the festival’s Facebook page or call 208-885-5900.

State Board of Education Approves First-Year Law Program in Boise

The Idaho State Board of Education approved the opening of a first-year law program in Boise for the University of Idaho College of Law. Pending final American Bar Association approval, a first-year law program will be available in both the Moscow and Boise locations beginning this fall semester. “A first-year program in Boise rounds out the University of Idaho’s options for a dynamic legal education that leads to great opportunities for graduates,” said President Chuck Staben. “We will be able to continue to build on our success at the Idaho Law and Justice Learning Center in Boise and on our long tradition of excellence in legal education.” Previously, all students completed their first-year in Moscow and then could transition to Boise, if desired, for their second and third year. The addition of first-year classes in Boise will make a Juris Doctor degree fully available at either location.

Idaho Arena Moving to Design Phase

The Idaho State Board of Education gave the University of Idaho approval to move into the planning and design phase of the proposed Idaho Arena, a 4,700-seat facility that will house Vandal court sports and university events. The SBOE approved the next phase of the project at its meeting Wednesday in Boise. “We are thrilled to move forward with this much-anticipated investment at UI,” President Chuck Staben said. “It is proof of our commitment to providing a great experience for our student-athletes, our students and our fans.” The $30 million project is over halfway to its fundraising goal, which includes funding support from students, alumni, friends and corporations. As fundraising continues, UI will move forward securing the architects and builders needed for a signature wood-engineered facility using mass timber construction. Recognizing the importance of the arena, UI students voted to raise the student facilities fee to help support the project.