The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2017-03-17:
Not a Typical Spring Break

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The Friday Letter
March 17, 2017
Letter from the President
Dear Friends,
It’s spring break at the University of Idaho. For many Vandals, that’s an opportunity to serve their communities. The Alternative Service Break program at UI finds students involved in important projects that lend a helping hand to those in need. That spirit of service makes a difference for families and communities across our region and our world.
This week 39 Vandals are serving across the Pacific Northwest. They are working with the Oregon Department of Forestry, building river access trails and helping with native plant restoration projects. Another team is in Seattle, doing home repairs in under-resourced neighborhoods. These practical projects offer hands-on experience while strengthening engagement as citizens. I’m glad our neighboring states have a firsthand look at what Idaho Vandals are all about.
Alternative Service Break participants are also doing good work where it is needed here in Idaho. They are in Cottonwood, helping people in our corrections systems with math and language skill development, career planning and money management, as they prepare for a second chance after incarceration. Vandals are also in Twin Falls, connecting with refugees to understand the integration process and offer support and assistance for people who have fled their home countries because of persecution.
The good work accomplished by ASB Vandals doesn’t stop at our nation’s borders, either. International trips take place during winter break. This winter nearly 50 students went to Nicaragua, the Philippines and Ecuador. They helped communities with sustainable energy, sanitation technology and community gardens. That two-week experience made a lasting difference for communities. I have no doubt our Vandals also gained perspective and experience that will inform the choices they make in their education and their lives. They share their insight and growth with our broader UI community when they come back from such trips.
Thanks to the Center for Volunteerism and Social Action in our Department of Student Involvement for coordinating these meaningful experiences. And congratulations to the students who get involved. If current or future Vandals are looking to make a difference, I encourage them check out the opportunities available through ASB trips.

As a university community, we know that we grow stronger together through service. This year the University of Idaho was again named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest such honor for schools. Getting involved and giving back is who we are as Vandals. I’m proud to see that spirit of service in action.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben

New Center for Health in the Human Ecosystem Takes Shape 

A new Center for Health in the Human Ecosystem will take shape on the UI campus over the next year to focus on how land use including agriculture, urbanization and deforestation interacts to impact transmission and control of disease agents of people, animals and plants. The new center will be led by Shirley Luckhart and Ed Lewis, who will move their research programs from UC Davis. They will begin work on the Moscow campus May 15 to create the center as a multidisciplinary collaboration to build a more sustainable human ecosystem through research, teaching and outreach. The pair were recruited to UI by College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Dean Michael Parrella, who worked with them at Davis before he moved to UI in 2016. “They are outstanding scientists and I believe their work here will help transform the University of Idaho’s scientific reach,” Parrella said. “Dr. Luckhart's joint appointment between the College of Science and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences highlights the connectivity between the two colleges and will move programs forward in both.”

American Bar Association Approves Boise First-Year Law Program

The American Bar Association (ABA) approved the opening of a first-year law program in Boise for the University of Idaho College of Law. The Idaho State Board of Education approved the first-year law program in February. A first-year law program will now be available in both the Moscow and Boise locations beginning this fall semester. The addition of first-year classes in Boise will make a Juris Doctor degree fully available at either location. Classes in Boise are held in the Idaho Law and Justice Learning Center (ILJLC), in the newly renovated historic Ada County Courthouse in the heart of downtown Boise. The ILJLC also houses the Idaho State Law Library and the Idaho Supreme Court’s judicial education offices. It is adjacent to the Idaho Supreme Court, Idaho State Bar and the Capitol Building.

UI Excels in U.S. News and World Report Rankings

The University of Idaho’s medical and legal education programs both ranked highly in U.S. News and World Report's 2017 graduate rankings, released this week. The Idaho WWAMI program offers Idahoans access to medical education through the University of Washington School of Medicine, which was named the No. 1 program in the country for primary care, rural medicine and family medicine. Other programs, including pediatrics (No. 5), internal medicine (No. 6) and geriatrics (No. 7) were in the top 10. The Idaho WWAMI program offers 40 openings per year for Idaho students. The UI College of Law was ranked No. 109, a climb of two positions from 111 in 2016. The College of Law was also included in U.S. News and World Report’s Diversity Index, listing institutions where students are likely to engage with classmates from different racial or ethnic groups.