The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2017-09-08:
Going for the Gold

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September 8, 2017
Letter from the President
Dear Friends,
This weekend we have the special opportunity to honor a Vandal great. A three-time Olympic gold medalist comes back to Moscow Saturday as we dedicate the Kristin Armstrong Paradise Path. This new name for a well-loved bicycle path crossing the Moscow campus celebrates a legacy of excellence and offers a reminder to Vandals to always give it your best on the way to the finish line.
A quick reminder of Kristin Armstrong Savola's story: When the 2016 Summer Olympics rolled around, Kristin didn’t have to compete. She was retired, after all, having already won a pair of gold medals and two world championships in cycling. She has a family. She has philanthropic and professional commitments in the Boise community. But the spirit of competition called, and there she was, back on a bicycle, the oldest racer in the cycling time trials, battling a bloody nose, the rain and a shortened training period to charge from behind for victory. It was a thrill to see one of our own on the medal stand.
Kristin is a 1995 graduate of the University of Idaho. She was on the UI track team and completed a degree in exercise physiology an example of the diversity of disciplines in our newly renamed College of Education, Health and Human Sciences before starting the Olympic journey that took her to Athens and to gold medals in Beijing, London and Rio.
Last month, Kristin joined the USA Cycling program as an endurance performance director, part of a lifelong commitment to health, well-being and athletic excellence. Kristin has been a loyal and supportive Vandal throughout her post-graduation life, receiving our Distinguished Idahoan award in 2015 and serving as an advisor to the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. We are so proud to welcome her back.
The Palouse and North Idaho are excellent places for biking. It’s always a great weekend when I have the chance to take the Latah Trail from Moscow to Troy, working to improve my times, even as more practiced riders show me what’s possible. The Bill Chipman Trail out to Pullman is an enjoyable day trip for solo riders, student groups or families. Elsewhere in North Idaho, the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes and the Route of the Hiawatha Bike Trail offer glimpses of our beautiful state that can’t be found any other way. I’ve had the chance to participate in Ride Idaho several times, too, connecting with fellow Vandals along the way a nice way to get to know people, as well as our land.
It’s a fitting tribute to that bicycling culture and tradition that we imprint Kristin Armstrong’s name on a part of it. I know many students are looking to explore Idaho on their bicycle. As Vandals, they’re also exploring in a different sense what disciplines they’re excited about, what interests motivate them, what they want to contribute to the world. Seeing the Armstrong name so prominently on campus should be a good reminder to keep exploring to go for the gold.
Join us tomorrow for the dedication with Kristin in the afternoon at the Fan Zone, before we head over to cheer on our undefeated Vandal football team as they take on UNLV in the Dome. See you on there and on the trail!
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben

First-Time Donor Supports U&I Give Campaign

“My decision to come to U of I was a family decision,” said Vivi Gonzalez, a recent University of Idaho graduate and first-time donor. “The Vandal Friday experience reached out to me and my family on a very personal level. The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) program tailored the experience for Hispanic students. That meant a lot to me.” While attending UI, Gonzalez sought activities — ASUI, the Center for Volunteerism, the Movimiento Activista Social student organization, and a study abroad experience in Cuba — that helped her identify her passion for contributing to positive change. She continues to support meaningful student programming as an alumna, choosing to give to the new Weekend ASB initiative sponsored by the Alternative Service Break (ASB) program. Weekend ASB engages students who want to immerse themselves in service, but cannot commit, due to time or financial constraints, to a full winter or spring break trip. Learn more about U&I Give’s Alternative Service Break Weekend Trip and other U&I Give campaigns, contact or 208-885-5205.

UI Sees $38.7 Million in Donations in Biggest-ever Fundraising Year

The University of Idaho saw its most successful fundraising year in its 128-year history for fiscal year 2017, receiving more than $38.7 million in gifts and commitments. Coming from individual donors, corporations and nonprofit organizations, the donations support scholarships, research efforts and programs at UI, making higher education more accessible for Idaho students and strengthening UI’s place as Idaho’s leading research institution. The donations also support key building projects at the university, including the Idaho Arena. For the 2017-18 academic year, UI awarded more than $25 million in scholarship support to over 6,800 undergraduate students. About 4,700 of those students are from Idaho, receiving $12.8 million in scholarships. In addition to individual donors, corporations and nonprofits made nearly $15 million in gifts and commitments to the university. Idaho organizations that made financial gifts include Fatbeam, Idaho Wheat Commission, Idaho Potato Commission, Idaho Power, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, J.R. Simplot Co., Micron Technology and St. Luke’s Health System. Of the $38 million raised, $6.6 million is marked to support research in UI programs including cybersecurity, agricultural science and the humanities.

College of Education Changes Name to College of Education, Health and Human Services

The Idaho State Board of Education and University of Idaho leadership has approved a request to update the name of UI’s College of Education to be more reflective of the college’s programs and departments. The college is now known as the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. Adding health and human sciences highlights the programs offered by the college outside of teacher education, such as movement sciences, athletic training, tourism, dance, recreation, exercise science, counseling, rehabilitation and community health. Established as an independent unit of the university in 1920, the college serves more than 1,000 students each year in six bachelor’s degree programs, nine master’s degree programs and three doctorate programs. The college is Idaho’s premier institution for teacher preparation, as well as programs that promote a healthy active lifestyle. The College of Education, Health and Human Sciences’ name change further reflects the transformation the college has seen over the past year with the completion of a $19 million renovation to its building.