The Friday Letter Archive

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Friday Letter 2017-10-27:
Enrollment Increases Again at U of I

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The Friday Letter
Oct. 27, 2017
Letter from the President
Dear Friends,
How do we, as a society, help put people on a path to success in a competitive world? How do build a more vibrant economy and healthier communities? The University of Idaho believes that higher education offers the best pathway for a bright future. That’s why the university has been out in front of efforts to change the state’s college-going culture and promote post-secondary participation for several years. This fall, thanks to a university-wide effort, we have again seen positive results and an increase in enrollment.
Overall enrollment at U of I has grown 2.4 percent for fall 2017, topping 12,000 students for the first time in five years. That increase includes notable gains in key areas, including a 3.9 percent increase in total resident enrollment, a 7.3 percent uptick in international student enrollment, and an increase in underrepresented populations, including Hispanic and Native American student enrollment. International and underrepresented student enrollment are important measures of how our global research university cultivates a valued and diverse community.
This fall we’ve also seen a significant, 23 percent increase in participation in dual-credit courses in our K-12 system. College students aren’t born, they are made: We can reach Idaho students with an experience that helps them develop as thinkers and leaders while they are in high school. They emerge prepared to succeed in college, contributing right away to the classroom culture and using their accumulated credits to graduate on time. The U of I’s commitment to this statewide priority continues to pay off.
Lastly, a comprehensive understanding of enrollment acknowledges the importance of retention, the rate at which students continue on from year to year toward graduation. This fall our freshman-to-sophomore retention rate stands at 82 percent, a 5 percent gain over last year, on par with the national average and the highest rate among Idaho public institutions. The U of I is continuing to invest in approaches that foster retention such as our Student Success Initiative launched in January 2017 and success through graduation and into a career.
An educated citizenry is key to the university’s land-grant mission and to the aspirations of the state of Idaho. Challenges remain in areas such as growing new resident student populations, but the university is well-positioned to take on those challenges, thanks to the hard work of the entire Vandal community, from our teaching ranks to our recruiting teams to our advising staff. That university-wide dedication means that more students from Idaho and beyond come to know the U of I story as one of the best values in higher education a life-changing educational experience, at an affordable price, that prepares learners for lifelong success.
Chuck Staben
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben

University Gala Celebrates Donor Generosity and Impact

The generosity of University of Idaho donors will be celebrated tonight at the annual University Gala. U of I will induct and recognize new 1889 Society members alumni, friends and partners with lifetime contributions totaling $1 million and more  as well as 35 new Silver and Gold Society members alumni, friends and partners with lifetime giving of $100,000 to $999,999. The 2017 1889 Society inductees include Amy Ash Pohl, Caroline M. and Thomas E. Bitterwolf, Albert Hermann Suttmann, James E. and Kathryn A. Whistler, Fatbeam, LLC, the Idaho Beef Council and the National 4-H Council. The new 1889 Society and Silver and Gold Society members have been added to the university’s Legacy of Giving donor recognition display in the Administration Building foyer. The university is grateful to the 10,046 donors who contributed almost $39 million in the last fiscal year. That generosity allows outstanding programs and one-of-a-kind opportunities to continue to inspire new generations of Vandals. For more information on giving to U of I, visit the Give to Idaho website.

Idaho Treasure Award to Honor D. Nels Reese

This November, the University of Idaho will honor alumnus and preservation advocate D. Nels Reese with the 2017 Idaho Treasure Award. Awarded by the UI Retirees Association, the Idaho Treasure Award recognizes retired university faculty and staff and their family members for contributions of leadership and service to the university. A native of Boise, Reese graduated from U of I in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. He went on to receive a master’s in urban planning from City College of New York. His resume includes eight years spent in the Army National Guard, five years as art director for Army in Europe magazine while living in Heidelberg Germany, and seven years as director of facilities at U of I. Reese taught architecture at U of I for more than 20 years. His focus was primarily on urban design and planning and he led his students on numerous field trips, including to New York, to see architecture at work. A longtime public servant, Reese was appointed to Moscow’s Planning and Zoning Commission in 1996, a post he still holds today.

Fall Issue of Here We Have Idaho Magazine Available

The fall issue of Here We Have Idaho magazine was recently delivered to mailboxes across the country, and is also available online at This issue celebrates the successes of our students who have had to overcome personal obstacles to achieve their dreams, and the things that the University of Idaho is doing to remove those obstacles where we can. Did your magazine go astray, or do you need to update your information? Fill out the form at

Keeping Culture Alive in the Classroom

As a young girl in elementary school, JayLynn Rogers was proud to count to 10 in her native language. But as an Iñupiaq Eskimo in Alaska, Rogers grew up in classrooms filled with mostly white students and white teachers, and that pride in her language wasn’t always shared. Being discouraged from speaking her native tongue was one of many experiences that spurred her desire to teach music education to Alaska Native students in the villages that make up the 49th state. “Growing up, I didn’t have role models who were Native,” said Rogers, 19, a sophomore music education major in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) at the University of Idaho. She wants to better herself so she can be the best example possible for her fellow indigenous students. Jessica Matsaw has a similar goal. A senior finishing her bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in psychology in CLASS, Matsaw wants to take what she’s learned at U of I and apply it as a teacher on the Fort Hall Reservation in southeastern Idaho. Rogers and Matsaw are among a small group of Native American students at UI who are learning the best ways to serve Native communities through a cultural lens as part of the Indigenous Knowledge for Effective Education Program (IKEEP), run through the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences (CEHHS).

Students Travel to Bolivia to Assist Community

From The Argonaut: Claire Majors, a University of Idaho mechanical engineering senior, spent 10 days in Bolivia over the summer to help install a gravity feed water supply system for a local village as part of the UI Humanitarian Engineering Corps (UI-HEC). “I could feel the altitude immediately my heart rate went up,” Majors said. “At first, I wasn’t sure it was because I was excited, or because the altitude was so high definitely the altitude a little bit of excitement too.” UI-HEC is a student-led, non-profit organization which partners with communities worldwide to help with community driven designs to improve access to basic human needs, UI-HEC President Monica Erickson said. The main project for UI-HEC is installing a water pump in Carani, Bolivia, which Majors worked on. The group works in partnership with the city to help build the water system. This helps avoid giving a western solution to a South American problem, Erickson said. The team’s goals are to help the community of Carani obtain water closer to their homes, empower them to meet their needs and build together, Erickson said. Read more.