The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2017-09-01:
A Culture of Safety at UI

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The Friday Letter
Sept. 1, 2017
Letter from the President
Dear Friends,
This year, like most years, I joined faculty and staff in helping students and families move in to the residence halls in Moscow. For any parent, it’s a time filled with excitement and pride. You want your child to dive into academic life, take on new challenges, and expand his or her world. That exploration can come with concerns. It’s natural: You want your child to be safe.
Let me state clearly up front: No college campus is immune to accidents or unfortunate events. These are large, multifaceted institutions. That said, we work very hard to cultivate a culture of safety, starting from the time students arrive on campus. All new full-time students are required to complete the interactive “Think About It” orientation, which examines relationships, substance abuse and violence. That bolsters the discussions students have with Student Life leaders on campus.
We also focus on safety during our annual Safety Week, which starts Sunday, Sept. 10. The week promotes a culture of safety and asks the Vandal family to proactively look out for one another. The annual “Take Back the Night” rally, a partnership between the Women's Center and the Violence Prevention Programs at UI, is Sept. 14. Mary Beth is looking forward to attending again and raising awareness about interpersonal violence and support for those affected. The annual Katy Benoit Safety Forum also takes place on Sept. 14.
Our Violence Prevention Programs include the “Green Dot” campaign, which offers bystander intervention training. The “I Got Your Back” campaign, a series of trainings, events and resources, amplifies that message throughout the year: speak out, get involved, look out for one another. Last year the Women's Center was awarded a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice for a multi-year Campus Violence Prevention Project; our Vandal Athletics program is joining that effort to engage male student-athletes, coaches and administrators in addressing interpersonal violence  and sexual assault. I am proud of this institution-wide commitment. In addition, this year a number of campus entities — the UI Counseling & Testing Center, Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Campus RecreationVandal Health Education and To Write Love On Her Arms WSU — have come together to host the second annual “We Got Your Back” Suicide Awareness 5K on Sept. 12.
Proactive involvement when others are facing danger or other challenges is central to our approach as a campus community. We look out for each other. We educate ourselves and others. We speak up, we get involved. We are a Vandal family.
Despite our best efforts, we may face a difficult situation. I hope we will approach any problems in the same spirit with which we prepare for safety — as a Vandal family committed to the safety and well-being of each other. That is how we honor the promise we make at move-in day and every day at UI.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben

Gift Supports WWAMI Facility Remodel

Drs. Barbara ’85 and Anthony "Tony" Tesnohlidek ’85, surgeon and anesthesiologist, respectively, provided a transformational leadership gift for the WWAMI medical education program facility near the University of Idaho campus in Moscow. “The WWAMI program is dedicated to providing high-quality instruction,” explained Tony. “We have been practicing medicine in southwestern Idaho for the past 23 years and feel a need to give back to the program that contributed so much to our professional development.” The $7 million WWAMI facility remodel is scheduled for completion in early 2018. The remodel will result in a technology-rich center with updated simulation and anatomy labs that facilitate collaborative learning. “Offering students the best medical education and facilities will ensure these future doctors will be prepared for an exceptional medical experience," said Jeff Seegmiller, director of the WWAMI Medical Education Program. “We are very grateful to the Tesnohlideks for their generosity and support.” For information on giving to the University of Idaho WWAMI program, contact Jim Zuba at 208-885-4142 or

UI Moves Up in Washington Monthly Rankings

The University of Idaho has moved up 17 spots from last year to rank No. 67 among the top national universities in the country, according to the 2017 Washington Monthly College Guide and Rankings. No other Idaho institution ranked among the top 100. The annual report “measures schools based on what they are doing for the country," focusing their metrics on improving social mobility, producing research, and promoting public service. UI was also named to the Washington Monthly’s separate “Best Bang for Your Buck - West” list of “colleges that are doing the best job of helping non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices.” That ranking is based on factors including net price, graduation rates and financial success after graduation.

UI Library Associate Dean Named Librarian of the Year

Ben Hunter, associate dean of University Libraries at the University of Idaho, has been named the 2017 Idaho Library Association (ILA) Librarian of the Year. The annual award recognizes an outstanding member of the library profession who has made significant contributions to their library and communities. “Librarianship is a profession dedicated to helping, educating and assisting people as they navigate an increasingly complex world of data, information and media,” Hunter said. “I love being able to make a difference in people’s lives.” To qualify for ILA’s Librarian of the Year, nominees must have a strong commitment to Idaho libraries; demonstrate leadership qualities in librarianship values, cooperative and collaborative activities; participate in mentoring and in-service training for librarians; and participate in a special library service project. Recent UI Library-specific projects that Hunter participated in include co-managing the library’s $1.3 million first-floor remodel, developing a comprehensive library student worker training program, and the reorganization of library services to support researchers and increase the impact on overall student success at the university.

UI Awards More Than $25 Million in Scholarships for Academic Year

The University of Idaho is pleased to announce it has awarded more than $25 million in scholarship support to students for the 2017-18 academic year. The funds were awarded to over 6,800 undergraduate students from 49 states. More than 4,700 of the scholarship recipients are from Idaho, receiving over $12.8 million in support. “The University of Idaho is committed to making education affordable for all students, from Idaho and around the nation. Scholarship support is a huge part of that commitment,” said Dan Davenport, director of Student Financial Aid Services. “We understand that a college degree is something worth investing in — and we believe our students are worth investing in, too.” The scholarships are a combination of merit, need-based and outstanding achievement awards. Many of the scholarships are funded privately by the University of Idaho Foundation Inc., through the generosity of donors and alumni. For more information about scholarships at UI, go to The lists of scholarship recipients by state is available at