The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2017-08-18:
Kicking Off a New Year at the University of Idaho

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The Friday Letter
August 18, 2017
Letter from the President
Dear Friends,
Yesterday we welcomed new and returning Vandals at Convocation. David Vobora — former NFL linebacker, Vandal football great, and College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences alumnus — gave an inspirational address. "Don’t marginalize your own capabilities as a leader," he said. "Don't take complacency. Don’t rest on your own intelligence or capabilities." I can’t think of a better message to start our academic year.
Convocation is our academic kickoff, but next Friday we can come together for another kind of kickoff as our Vandal soccer team — the reigning Big Sky champions two years running — takes on Boise State University here in Moscow. Vandal soccer has a new home in the Kibbie Dome, and the indoor field is unique in all of NCAA soccer. I’m excited about continuing the tradition of Vandal soccer success and building a vibrant culture around this team in this venue.
With the potential for large and loud crowds, the Dome offers a distinct competitive advantage. I hope the Vandal family will join us in Moscow to make the most of that advantage. We will have a free and family-friendly Fan Zone experience starting at 4 p.m. in the west end of the upper Kibbie parking lot with food, music and special giveaways. Join the fun and meet other Vandals — and as a special offer open to Vandals and the broader community, at the pre-soccer Fan Zone you can pick up free tickets to the Aug. 31 football game when the Vandals take on Sacramento State. The first 2,000 attendees will also receive their very own Vandal vuvuzela (say that one 10 times fast…).
Why the Dome? A couple reasons. With Guy Wicks field prone to flooding, we needed to do something to make sure we never had important games washed away. Our football field was due for replacement, and we saw a chance to do something special. The Kibbie Dome offers a brand-new field, space for crowds, availability of concessions and a vibrant atmosphere. Coach Derek Pittman and our student-athletes on the soccer team are excited about the move and ready to compete for more championships on the turf.
I hope as many of you as possible join us to see the kick off to that journey. (The match will also be live-streamed for those rooting from afar.) Come out and contribute to a fun and festive environment as we take on the squad from down south. Welcome to fall 2017 — see you at the match!
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben

VSF Gala Breaks Record for Scholarship Support

Over $170,000 was raised in a record-breaking show of support for student-athlete scholarships at this year’s 28th annual Vandal Scholarship Fund (VSF) Gala in Boise. This success would not be possible without the continuing support of Mark Tidd, TitleOne CEO and former UI student-athlete, and the TitleOne Corporation, the presenting sponsor of this signature event for the past five years. Their contribution of $50,000 takes the event to new heights and inspires others to give back. “Receiving an athletic scholarship at the University of Idaho changed my life,” Tidd said. “I wouldn’t have been able to afford to go to school otherwise.” Mark’s commitment means the VSF will continue to change the lives of Vandal student-athletes. For more information about making a difference through the Vandal Scholarship Fund, please contact Samantha Parrott at or 208-364-4566.

UI Named Best College in Idaho

For another year, the University of Idaho was named Money’s “Best College” in Idaho. It is the only public institution in Idaho on the list, joining peer institutions among other land-grant and national research universities. The ranking cites the high early-career earnings realized by Vandal alumni, based on PayScale earnings data, and notes that “UI offers students ample opportunities for hands-on research in fields including biotechnology, water, transportation, aquaculture and microelectronics.” The university was also named one of Money’s “Best Colleges for Your Money 2017” based on a combination of educational quality, affordability and alumni success. UI was also the only public institution in Idaho to make Money’s "Best Colleges for Your Money 2017" list.

UI Physicist Receives $6 Million NSF Grant

A University of Idaho project examining changes in the amino acids that are the building blocks of life and how they lead to changes in living things was awarded a $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant, awarded to Associate Professor F. Marty Ytreberg in the Department of Physics in UI’s College of Science, is among eight projects totaling $41.7 million awarded through the NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Program. Ytreberg’s project, "Using biophysical protein models to map genetic variation to phenotypes,” will use computer simulations, mathematical modeling and experiments to determine how amino acid changes modify the way that proteins interact with other molecules. Ytreberg’s project includes a team of scientists and students at UI, the University of Vermont and Brown University. The results, expected to be released on an ongoing basis beginning in spring 2018, will be shared with the public via interactive animations, a website for dissemination of results and presentations for diverse audiences in all three states.