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Spreading the Word About UI

Vandal alumni can be the university’s best advocates for recruitment. And now, there are even more ways to be involved. 

During his State of the University address in September 2014, University of Idaho President Chuck Staben outlined an ambitious vision: Increase enrollment at UI by 50 percent — about 5,000 students — by 2024.

Since then, UI has emerged as a leader in Idaho’s statewide initiative to increase college enrollment. Staben’s June 2015 proposal to the State Board of Education to create a new admissions system led to the initiation of Direct Admissions. High school students last October received letters announcing that, based on their GPAs, they were already conditionally admitted to Idaho’s public institutions.

To promote that effort, UI launched Enroll Idaho, a series of events held in nearly every county in November and January. The meetings invited students, parents and educators to talk about why going to college is a good investment, navigating the financial aid system and why UI is a great option.

The university has revamped admissions and recruitment materials, moved enrollment events to accommodate more students (Vandal Friday is now UIdaho Bound and was held on two Saturdays in April) and redesigned its website to be mobile-responsive and more user-friendly.

But attracting more students to UI isn’t a goal that the university can accomplish on its own. It’s an all-hands-on-deck call.

“UI is an excellent option for students — we have world-renowned researchers, state-of-the-art facilities and great outcomes for our graduates, especially in terms of finding a career and having a strong financial future,” Staben said. “A Vandal education offers a path toward a good job and a great life. And no one knows that better than our alumni.”

President Staben
President Chuck Staben

The Office of Alumni Relations and Office of Admissions know that alumni are often the best recruiters for the university. They are creating new initiatives and ways for UI supporters to help attract new students.

“Vandal alumni understand very well the amazing value of a University of Idaho education,” said Kathy Barnard ’81, executive director of Alumni Relations. “We graduate with what we need to succeed in the workplace and in life. We make a positive difference wherever we are. And, many of us want to share that experience and tradition with future Vandals.”

Tim Helmke, associate director of Alumni Relations, agrees.

 “What we’ve seen is there’s a whole group of alumni out there who want to help with recruitment, and that’s really their niche,” he said. “They don't just want to come to socials. They don't just want to donate. They want to help other students find their passion here like they found their passion here.”

 One current focus is the Vandals in Partnership (VIP) program, which connects alumni with in their area, as well as offers training and materials for alumni who want to be volunteer recruiters. The program offers several ways to participate:

  • Grow the Gold: Alumni fill out a card or online form ( to nominate a student for admission to UI. The nominated student will not have to pay an application fee at UI.
  • Meet the Vandals and other recruitment events: UI hosts events through the Pacific Northwest each year, and alumni can participate by helping attendees register, giving directions or even just sharing their UI experience with high school students and their parents.
  • VIP Luncheons: Alumni meet with UI administrators and staff to hear about recruitment efforts and changes at the university.
  • VIP Recruitment Partner: UI offers training and materials to help those who want to host recruitment events or meet with students at high schools and college fairs. 

Alumni involvement at all levels is crucial to UI’s success.

“When you’re at an event as an alumni volunteer — that speaks to the students and their families,” Helmke said. “We want students to experience that personal touch. That’s key. That’s the Idaho way.”

Alumni don't need to be well versed in UI's processes or programs, Helmke said, they just need to be willing to share their passion for the institution.

“Everybody has a story to tell,” Helmke said. “Success is defined in so many different ways. These students are just wanting to hear about the preparation the alumni had at UI, the quality of education, the student experience, how it prepared them and how it started their career paths.

“Everybody can share their story. Everybody is a success. We should celebrate that.”

Article by Savannah Tranchell, University Communications and Marketing

Executive Director Kathryn Barnard-La Pointe
Kathy Barnard, executive director of the Office of Alumni Relations


University Communications and Marketing

Phone: 111-111-6291

Fax: 111-111-5841

Email: [email protected]

Web: Communications and Marketing

U of I Media Contacts