The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2017-04-14:
Public Investments in Excellence this Legislative Season

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April 14, 2017
Letter from the President
Dear Friends,
As the state’s leading public research university, the University of Idaho benefits from robust investment by our state. This spring we are pleased with the investments Gov. Otter and the Idaho Legislature have made in the excellence of our programs and facilities. A number of projects bear special mention:
  • Fourth-year computer science degree in Coeur d’Alene. As described in a recent Friday Letter, this partnership with North Idaho College allows students to complete all four years of a computer science degree in Coeur d’Alene. This is an investment in students who want to find a place in the increasingly technology-focused economy of North Idaho.
  • UI Library investment: The legislature supported significant new funding for the University of Idaho Library. This will allow us to add two full-time positions and make other needed technology improvements. Our Library is a hub for student academic work and for research and scholarship, and for the development of new ideas and solutions that benefit society. Expanding our Library’s capacity means enhancing a valuable resource for our university community and our state.
  • Change in Employee Compensation. A 3 percent compensation increase approved by the legislature means the university will keep pace in our ability to recruit and retain talented faculty and staff. We must remain competitive in order to serve students and the state with our best teaching, research and scholarship, and outreach.
Two investments from the Permanent Building Fund also stand out:
  • The Center for Agrculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE). A $10 million appropriation will help the University of Idaho create a new center for research and education connected to food production and processing. We will have project details soon. This is an exciting project that supports the growth and increased sustainability of key Idaho industries, such as dairy and processing.
  • Idaho WWAMI building renovation. The Idaho WWAMI program our state’s medical education partnership with the top-ranked University of Washington School of Medicine has doubled in student size over the past five years. Permanent Building Fund support will allow us to renovate the Idaho WWAMI building on our Moscow campus and add clinical and anatomy laboratory space.
Several other budgetary items also are important: continued support of the Agricultural Research and Extension System; our Idaho Geological Survey and Forest Utilization Research programs; and maintenance and operations costs for facilities. The Idaho WWAMI program will also see important funding to continue preparing the highly skilled medical practitioners of the future physicians and other professionals who will serve communities right here in Idaho.
We appreciate the support of the governor and the legislature this session. Investment in the state’s land-grant research university pays off in a better-prepared, more prosperous Idaho for us all.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben

A Story of Service and Support: The Fazios

It was October 1976 when Jim and Dawn Fazio made their first gift of $25 to the University of Idaho. Jim was a new assistant professor in the College of Natural Resources, and Dawn was pursuing a teaching certificate to complement her master’s degree and interest in environmental education. Now, almost 41 years and 35 years of cumulative giving later, Jim, professor emeritus in CNR and a freelance writer, and Dawn, local business owner and longtime chair of the Moscow school district’s Board of Trustees, continue their loyal support of UI and Idaho education. “A person ought to be supportive of the institution that supported him and so many students over the years,” Jim said. “Education is the foundation of a strong nation.” The Fazios have championed a wide variety of university initiatives — from the Douglas L. Gilbert Scholarship that supports conservation communication, to the Library Dean’s Excellence Renovation Fund that resulted in a group study room dedication in their name. “Jim and Dawn have contributed to bettering the lives of so many students and faculty in their 43-year association with the UI,” said Nick Sanyal, colleague and professor in CNR. Read more about the Fazios on the Loyal Donor website.

UI Named Idaho's Best College for Getting a Job

The University of Idaho was recently named the “Best College for Getting a Job” in the state of Idaho by career website Zippia. The list focused primarily on job placement ratings — the number of graduates who are employed 10 years after their degree. The University of Idaho earned the highest job-placement ranking of institutions in the state by virtue of its 88 percent rating. According to Zippia, “Not all schools are equal in this, and some colleges are vastly more supportive of their students’ post-graduation concerns than others.” The ranking system was based on data drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or IPEDS. The ranking also highlights the earnings by Vandal graduates — the top earnings among graduates of any public institution in the state, according to the 2016-2017 PayScale College Salary Report.

Researchers Examine River Structure Link to Greenhouse Gases

Vehicle exhaust, fossil fuel emissions and other pollutants are familiar contributors to climate change. But more innocuous natural resources, like rivers and streams, contribute as well. A research team led by the University of Idaho has found that the form and structure of rivers and streams is an important factor in greenhouse gas emissions — and small rivers produce more than big ones. Civil engineering Associate Professor Daniele Tonina and postdoctoral researcher Alessandra Marzadri at the University of Idaho, along with their partners at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and the University of Trento in Trento, Italy, have used these findings to develop a new model to predict emissions at a global level. Their work was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “We developed a model that can be used at large continental and even global scale,” Tonina said. “The new model provides the needed feedback to help quantify human impact on climate change at the global scale, and it could be used by agencies to provide scientific basis and data to help climate-related decisions in different parts of the world.”

UI Celebrates Innovation Month

The University of Idaho celebrates Innovation Month each April with multiple interdisciplinary events to honor the creative and scholarly achievements of faculty, staff and students. The university community and the public are welcome to attend several of the events. Innovation Month events include the Visualizing Science Exhibit, bringing together teams of outstanding UI artists, designers and scientists to create visual interpretations of important scientific issues; Idaho Pitch, giving innovators and entrepreneurs from across the university the opportunity to practice their presentation skills in front of business and professional judges; the Business Plan Competition, offering students a chance to experience the real-world process of launching a business; the Undergraduate Research Symposium, celebrating the research and scholarly work in all disciplines by undergraduates; and the annual Engineering Design EXPO, showcasing senior engineering capstone projects.