The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2017-03-24:
Our New First-Year Law Program in Boise

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The Friday Letter
March 24, 2017
Letter from the President
Dear Friends,
For generations, the University of Idaho has offered a law degree that opens doors to a fulfilling career. Now, students looking to build their future through the best legal education in Idaho have one more place to start. The Idaho Law and Justice Learning Center, across the street from the Capitol, Supreme Court and State Bar in the heart of downtown Boise, is now home to a full, three-year Juris Doctor curriculum, complementing the three-year curriculum in Moscow. This is a valuable addition to the legal education landscape in the Northwest.
Last week the American Bar Association awarded the final approval for our Boise first-year curriculum. This follows the State Board of Education’s sign-off on the program in February. We are ready to welcome a class of first-year students this fall. I congratulate those students on choosing a Juris Doctor program renowned for its excellence, its successful outcomes and its affordability. 
In the legal, civic and economic center of Idaho, the College of Law's Boise location provides another pathway for learning and professional preparation. Our Boise law program is well-known for its clinics that help community members in tax law, small business law, and economic development, among other areas. UI Law is a leader in externships, helping students find real-world placement experiences and contribute to organizations while earning their degree. In January, National Jurist magazine recognized the college's commitment to service on its annual public service honor roll. That exemplifies the Vandal spirit of service we so often discuss.
Job placement rates in the College of Law are among the highest in the Northwest and alongside Ivy League schools in the top 30 nationwide. Because the degree is so affordable much lower in cost than private options in Idaho, and a bargain compared to attending regional public law schools as out-of-state students graduates emerge into the job market with low debt and the ability to choose the professional option that is meaningful to them. That combination of excellence and affordability led PreLaw magazine to name UI the No. 8 Best Value in the nation in fall 2016.
Expanding access to our law program comes at little added cost to the state of Idaho, but offers great benefit to our state and students. Whether they are going to practice law or serve in any of the numerous fields and capacities for which a Juris Doctor is great preparation, Vandal law graduates will contribute to the growth, prosperity and reputation of Idaho.
I’m grateful for our leadership in the College of Law, including Dean Mark L. Adams; our law faculty working to prepare for this expansion; our Law Advisory Council and highly supportive alumni; the Idaho State Board of Education and the American Bar Association. This is a win for students, for legal education and for the state of Idaho.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben

Anonymous Donor Honors Spouse with Unique Scholarship Endowment

In 2016, a generous donor who chose to remain anonymous honored the memory of his late wife by establishing a scholarship endowment that encompasses three distinct academic areas vital to a thriving society: science, education, and family and consumer sciences. Through a gift of stock and a future annuity gift, this scholarship endowment not only honors the legacy of a special UI alumna, but will also positively invest in the lives of students in the years to come. Students pursuing a degree in the Colleges of Science or Education, or the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), are eligible for support through this endowment. “Scholarships like this impact our ability to retain the best students, by providing them with significant financial support,” said Michael Parrella, dean of CALS. “I, along with the other college deans, am so grateful for this tremendous generosity.” For more information about giving, contact Eric Bennett in the College of Science at, Marta McClintock in the College of Education at, or Jen Root in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at

Gift for Teacher Support Marks Endowment 1,500 at UI Foundation

The University of Idaho Foundation marks the creation of its 1,500th endowment, with credit for that milestone number going to the late Shirley A. (Williamson) Wentz, a lifelong Vandal supporter and dedicated educator. Her $25,000 gift to the College of Education established the Shirley A. Wentz Education Scholarship Endowment, supporting future elementary education teachers from Ada and Canyon counties in Idaho. Wentz’s wish was to help future educators enjoy the rewards she received from introducing young readers to the power of books and reading. “It is quite fitting that the 1,500th endowed scholarship would come from Shirley Wentz, lifelong educator and die-hard Vandal,” said Ali Carr-Chellman, dean of UI’s College of Education. “We are so grateful for the help that Shirley’s endowed scholarship provides to our students in the College of Education.” Endowments like the one left by Wentz are invested over the long term to support students, faculty, research and university programs. The 1,500 endowments amount to more than $10.2 million in scholarship and program support distributed each year — and $165 million distributed since 1959.

Dairy Industry’s Hispanic Workforce Benefits Communities in South Central Idaho

Findings from a recent study conducted by the University of Idaho’s James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research shed new light on the dairy workforce and its benefits to South Central Idaho communities, as well as challenges related to immigration. The study was commissioned by the Idaho Dairymen’s Association and updates a 2009 analysis of how the dairy industry’s workforce impacts communities in Idaho. “Immigration has profound economic and social impacts on communities,” said Priscilla Salant, senior researcher at the McClure Center. “In the case of South Central Idaho, these changes have been largely positive and going on for a generation.” The study found that increasing automation in response to labor shortages and narrow profit margins, along with changing immigration policies and continued integration of immigrants and their children, will influence community well-being in the future. The dairy industry will continue to be a driving force in the region going forward. The full McClure Center study is available at