The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2017-03-03:
Our Expanded WUE Program

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March 3, 2017
Letter from the President
Dear Friends,
The Northwest is a special place to live, work and learn, not the least because of an abundance of great options for higher education. A great experience that positions students for lifelong success doesn’t stop at the state line that's why the University of Idaho has revitalized its Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program for Washington and Oregon residents.
Our university has long been a destination for high-quality, affordable education. Many students come to Vandal country each year from Washington and Oregon. But we heard concerns about cost for many prospective students from our western neighbors. We listened to those concerns, and we are taking action.
Beginning this summer, the expanded WUE program means new first-year and transfer students from Washington and Oregon will save $11,000 per year over typical out-of-state tuition. First-year students qualify with a minimum 3.2 GPA from an accredited high school or minimum 22 ACT/1020 SAT for home-schooled students or graduates from a non-accredited high school. Transfer students qualify with a 3.0 or higher GPA. The awards are renewable with the maintenance of a minimum 2.5 GPA. No separate application is necessary the WUE rates will be awarded automatically in the application process.
Those guidelines underpin a straightforward and easy-to-understand program. I often hear from parents and students about the complexity of applying for college. I have sent three children of my own on to higher education and also had sometimes frustrating experiences. At UI we have decided that we can and will reduce the barriers to higher education. We recognize the regional need for higher education to provide a pathway for individual success and broadly shared economic prosperity.
The expanded WUE program allows the University of Idaho to enhance its position as a great value among public research universities. For instance, based on academic excellence, affordability and outstanding career outcomes, The Princeton Review just named UI one of its top “Colleges That Pay You Back” one of only 200 schools nationwide, and the only one in Idaho. I want to make sure that excellence is affordable and accessible for students across the Northwest.
We have a lot to offer at the University of Idaho. I invite Washington and Oregon residents to see for themselves what the Vandal experience looks like for their interests, and for their budgets. Visit for detailed WUE information. I think many students and families will find that this enhanced WUE program makes one of the best values in higher education that much more attractive.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben

Supporting Law Students through Memorial Fund

Law alumnus Mike McNichols ’60 ’63 created the Judge Ray McNichols Memorial Endowment in 1990 in honor of his late father, Judge Ray C. McNichols ’50, one of Idaho’s most highly respected jurists. The fund supports an intramural moot court competition and the outstanding oralist receives the Ray McNichols Memorial Award. Mike and Katie have made generous annual contributions to the fund since its inception. “We are grateful to Mike for creating this fund for our students,” said Dean Mark Adams. “That support, along with the support of over 60 other individual donors, has provided our students with the valuable practical skills training that is so important to their legal education and future careers.” Many contributions to the endowment have come from former law clerks of Judge McNichols. For more information about ways to support the College of Law, contact Terri Muse, assistant dean for external relations, at 208-364-4044 or

Study: Humans Responsible for Half of Northwest Wildfires

A first-of-its-kind analysis of wildfire records from 1992-2012 showed that humans started 84 percent of all wildfires nationwide. In northwestern states — including Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Montana — humans started about half of all wildfires. The startling numbers show the importance of the governments and citizens of Northwest states working to reduce human-started fires, which often have direct impacts on infrastructure given their tendency to occur in the wildland-urban interface, said University of Idaho researcher John Abatzoglou. Abatzoglou, an associate professor of geography in the UI College of Science, worked with project leaders Bethany Bradley of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Jennifer Balch of the University of Colorado-Boulder on the analysis, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. “Not all fire is bad, but humans are intentionally and unintentionally adding ignitions to the landscape in areas and seasons when natural ignitions are sparse,” Abatzoglou said. “We can’t easily control how dry fuels get, or lightning — but we do have some control over human-started ignitions.”

UI Named Top College by The Princeton Review

The University of Idaho is the only Idaho higher education institution on The Princeton Review’s 2017 list of the nation’s top 200 “Colleges that Pay You Back.” Based on academic excellence, affordability and graduate success, this national recognition highlights the outstanding value of a Vandal education. Among public colleges and universities in the greater Northwest, only the University of Washington also made the list. The Princeton Review’s methodology includes the use of institutional and student surveys combined with PayScale’s alumni earnings data. Financial aid is an important component of the analysis — UI awarded more than $25 million in financial aid to students in fall 2016. According to The Princeton Review, “Students who attend these schools don't have to mortgage their futures to pay for their degrees — and we believe they will graduate with great career prospects.” The rankings also reflect student opinions of teaching quality and the accessibility of professors. The Princeton Review concludes, “the 200 we chose as our Colleges That Pay You Back 2017 are, in our opinion, truly the most exceptional in the nation at delivering great academics, affordable cost, and great career foundations. We strongly recommend and salute the colleges we present here for all that they do to help their students with need afford to attend them while delivering an amazing college experience that's worth every penny.”