The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2017-03-31:
Investing in a UI Computer Science Degree

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 Some images, links, and functionality may be broken or out of date.

March 31, 2017
Letter from the President
Dear Friends,
A strong component of UI’s service to Idaho is preparing students for good jobs that anchor great lives. In North Idaho, that mission goes hand-in-hand with supporting economic development. Recognizing an opportunity to support this imperative, the Idaho legislature has followed through on an investment in a four-year computer science degree in Coeur d’Alene, funding the fourth year of the program this spring. This investment in our state’s students reflects the belief that the increasingly technology-focused economy of the region will thrive with a stable source of highly skilled and motivated graduates.
The UI Coeur d’Alene computer science program partners with North Idaho College. Students take their first two years toward the degree at NIC, then seamlessly transfer to complete the third- and fourth-year curriculum at the University of Idaho, earning a Bachelor of Science in computer science through our College of Engineering. We have upward of 80 students already in this pipeline and invested in faculty last year to begin the program. Idaho’s investment in a fourth-year program this spring means more teaching resources for fall 2017 to accommodate our students. It also allows the program to seek ABET accreditation, a standard of excellence for computer science programs and an assurance of quality for students and our state.
An exciting component of the computer science curriculum is the cooperative education track, developed in partnership with the STEM Action Center with support from the STEM legislative caucus. The track emphasizes internships with local industry. Students will divide their program between focused internships with specific educational goals that reinforce coursework and with semesters in the classroom. That means students will graduate with industry applicable skills, on-the-job experience, and a built-in network of employer connections. Cooperative education offers a win-win for students and industry – experience for students on their way to a great job, and support and resources for industries as they innovate and expand.
The computer science degree is an important enhancement to UI offerings in the Coeur d’Alene area. Our University Research Park in Post Falls supports economic and community development with an emphasis on growth and sustainability. It is home to UI’s Cybersecurity Training and Operations Center, training up to 350 people through 2018 to work in the information technology sector in North Idaho and eastern Washington. We’re connecting in the community with activities such as our robotics workshops, our Dign’IT summer coding camps for young people, and our partnership with Gizmo-CDA, the community makerspace. We continue to offer a range of bachelor’s and advanced degree options, in everything from education to executive MBAs. We’re proud of the success we’ve had, and appreciate the role of businesses, community organizations, and city and state leaders in partnering with UI to make those achievements possible.
This is an exciting time for Vandal country in North Idaho. Technology is key to a strong economy and a prosperous future for our region, and UI is helping lay the groundwork for that success.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben

Honoring Friends and Family at UI

Shortly after returning from service overseas in the early 1970s, Larry J. Baxter ’66 invested in property near Cascade, Idaho. Now a long-time resident of Vermont, Baxter decided to make a gift of this property to the UI to, in his words, “repay my school for the benefits it gave me.” He also wanted to honor two special individuals close to him: his late father, Lawrence H. Baxter, and First Lieutenant Kay Kimura, USMC, a close friend and classmate from Nampa Senior High School who lost his life in Vietnam. “If my gift to the University can keep alive their memories and provide assistance to coming generations of students who seek their own University of Idaho experiences, I will have repaid some small portion of UI’s gift to me,” said Baxter. To learn more about making a gift of real estate, contact Clark Hyvonen, at 208-885-9026 or

Vandals In Focus Showcases Student Research

The 2017 edition of Vandals in Focus is now available in print and online at The publication is a project sponsored by the UI Office of Undergraduate Research that brings together a team of student writers and photographers to tell the stories of their fellow students and their work in research, scholarship and creative activity. Vandals in Focus features student stories from every college, as well as profiles of faculty mentors. “Hands-on research experiences allow students to develop as scholars and innovators while gaining experience they can apply to life after college,” President Staben said in his introductory message in the report. “Students at UI don’t just receive knowledge — they help unlock and unleash it. I am proud to see that Vandal tradition showcased here.”

UI Students Earn National Science Foundation Fellowships

Three University of Idaho students have earned prestigious fellowships from the National Science Foundation. The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program provides a three-year stipend of $34,000, as well as $12,000 education allowance for tuition and fees, for the recipients to pursue their graduate degrees. Benjamin Anzis, a senior from Marshalltown, Iowa, is studying mathematics in the College of Science. Anzis will use his award to pursue his doctorate in algebraic geometry. Isaac Curtis, from Potlatch, Idaho, is a master’s student studying materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering and will use his NSF award to pursue his doctorate at UI. Emily White, of Hawthorne, California, is pursuing her doctorate in geology in the College of Science. In addition to the three recipients, six UI graduate students earned honorable mentions from the fellowship program, including Austin Anderson, Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences, College of Natural Resources; Ian Gilman, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science; Grahm Johnson, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science; Sebastian Mortimer, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science; and Megan Ruffley, Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, College of Science. In the past 10 years, 16 UI students have received the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.