The Friday Letter Archive

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


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Friday Letter 2017-09-22:
Apply Idaho, a Great Next Step for Idaho's "Go-On" Campaign

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September 22, 2017
Letter from the President
Dear Friends,
For the past several years the University of Idaho has worked closely with the Idaho State Board of Education to remake the way our state’s students “go on” from high school to college. Idaho’s low college-going rate represents enormous untapped potential — a pool of enterprising talent needed for the state’s growing 21st century economy. We are trying to lower each and every hurdle to get more students to the starting gate of a college education.
The State Board is introducing the next evolution of that effort, the Apply Idaho common application. This tool allows students to apply for Idaho public colleges and universities, including UI, through one central pathway. A minimum of information is required from the student at the time of completion, and there are just four simple steps. You don’t have to know your major, and you don’t have to pay an application fee. The program even has a tool to do a quick check for scholarships (UI follows that up with comprehensive scholarship information).
Apply Idaho builds on the simplicity introduced by the Direct Admissions program. That program lets public high school students know that they are qualified based on their academic achievement and have been admitted. This year's letters to parents and students will soon be arriving in mailboxes, a vote of confidence in our young people, telling them we know they can achieve at the next level because they’ve already shown they are qualified and prepared.
Of course, UI is a multifaceted institution, and students come to us as transfers, as adult learners, as graduate students, as out-of-state students and as international students. We are a comprehensive, national research university, and we hold the door open for students of all types and from all places and backgrounds, believing that we offer an unparalleled experience and essential preparation for each student. With that context, bringing more Idaho undergraduates to college has been a driving focus, and will continue to be. I hope our alumni and friends will continue to get the word out about programs that can impact the future of our young people in Idaho and beyond.
There is no one silver bullet to bringing more people into the higher education experience. On the level of policy and practices, we have to continue to think critically about our existing ways of doing things, experiment judiciously with new ideas, and wisely implement solutions. We also have to continue to communicate the value of postsecondary education. You’re going to keep hearing me tout success stories, talk about return on investment, and advocate for solutions that help Idaho’s higher education pipeline.
Lastly, a word about financial aid, another step future Vandals will need to take. Last year, UI allowed students and families to complete the FAFSA in October to apply for aid for the following fall. We moved our financial aid priority date to December, letting more students learn their scholarship and aid package sooner. We felt then, as we do now, that going to college is a big decision — you should have all the financial facts as early as possible. We are very confident that the facts speak well for UI, based on price and based on the $25 million in annual financial aid we award — a life-changing educational experience at a leading research university, for an affordable price.
That’s a value proposition we truly believe in here at UI. I am glad that the application and admissions process for students to access that excellence now has one more hurdle lowered.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben

Generous Endowment Supports Science Excellence

Charlotte Hill ’77 and Carol Lisek recently made a $300,000 commitment to the Departments of Chemistry, Biological Sciences, and Animal and Veterinary Science. The establishment of the Charlotte Hill and Carol Lisek Science Excellence Endowment will provide invaluable support to students and faculty through unrestricted funds to be used at the discretion of department chairs. Hill earned bachelor's degrees in microbiology and chemistry at Idaho and an M.B.A. at Washington University. She recently retired as president and CEO of Signet Scientific, a process control instrumentation company, and received the university’s Alumni Association Silver and Gold Award in 2013. Lisek earned a doctorate in chemistry from Johns Hopkins and a D.M.A. in early music performance from USC. She worked in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, and now performs as a contralto soloist and is an adjunct professor of voice at Claremont Graduate University. “We are very grateful to Ms. Hill and Dr. Lisek for their generous investment, which will help us maintain and strengthen quality programs at the University of Idaho,” said Ginger Carney, dean of the College of Science. For more information about giving to the College of Science, please contact Eric Bennett at or 208-885-9106.

Big Sky Basketball Tournament Moving to Boise

The Big Sky Conference announced this week a three-year agreement to move the conference’s men’s and women’s basketball championships to Boise in 2019. Tournaments will be held at the 5,300-seat CenturyLink Arena downtown. “Obviously I'm very excited for it to be in Boise because that's where the University of Idaho's biggest alumni base is,” said Don Verlin, UI head men's basketball coach.  “I'm just excited for the state of Idaho and the city of Boise that we can be able to host this event.” Women’s basketball coach Jon Newlee said, “There is a huge population of Vandal alumni and fans down there. I know they are just going to come out and support us like crazy.” UI men and women will play a game in Boise this season as well, with a December 21 doubleheader at CenturyLink Arena that sees the women take on Eastern Oregon at 5 p.m. Mountain and the men follow against UC Irvine. The 2018 tournament will take place March 11-16 in Reno to complete that three-year agreement. Idaho is one of three Big Sky schools to have its men's and women's teams earn at least one victory in both seasons the tournament has been in Reno.

Sandpoint Native Helping to Engineer a Better Tendon

Career-ending Achilles tendon tears in professional athletes. A decline in an aging population’s quality of life due to injured rotator cuffs. Outdoors enthusiasts made immobile because of tendon tears in their knees. In the near future, the debilitating nature of these injuries could be a thing of the past, as a team of faculty and students in the University of Idaho’s Department of Biological Engineering is focusing on revolutionary research to engineer regenerative tendon tissue.