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The Friday Letter

The Friday Letter is U of I’s long-running, weekly message straight from the president to members of the Vandal family. Each week during the academic year, and with breaks for holidays, the president offers an update on Vandal teaching and learning, research and scholarship, and notable initiatives and priorities. Alumni and friends are welcome to join students, faculty and staff in receiving the newsletter. To subscribe, contact Executive Communications Manager Brian Keenan at [email protected].

Letter from the President
Oct. 12, 2018
Dear Friends,
One of the University of Idaho’s greatest strengths is our Vandal alumni, a constant since 1899 when the university’s 17 alumni to that date formed the Idaho Alumni Association. In the nearly 120 years since, we’ve added more than 100,000 graduates to a close-knit group that offers camaraderie and common bonds around a shared love for the institution. For students, alumni mean a powerful network that will be there to help a fellow Vandal on his or her way up. And for the university, we draw upon our alumni for counsel and support, through good times and bad. This week I spoke with Kathy Barnard ’81, our assistant vice president for alumni relations and advancement communications. She’s led our alumni office with enthusiasm and innovation since returning to her alma mater in 2016.
President Chuck Staben: Next weekend is Homecoming. What does that mean for Vandals returning to U of I?
Kathy Barnard: Homecoming is like the largest and best family reunion you can imagine. Vandals from all over the country migrate back to Moscow at a time when the campus is arguably at its most beautiful. They reconnect with their roommates, pledge classes, classmates, faculty and staff. They show their Vandal pride, buy their mom an “I” Mum corsage, sing the fight song loud and proud, and enjoy everyone else doing the same thing. There’s a parade, which this year will feature Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee and former Vandal player Jerry Kramer as the grand marshal. There are parties, tailgating, the Vandal Marching Band and football. It’s a time to “come home” to a place where many of us grew into who we are today. It's truly a beautiful thing.
CS: You’ve helped spur some different ways of engaging our alumni over the past couple years. What new or innovative programs should alumni know about?
KB: In addition to more traditional activities, the Office of Alumni Relations team — which, by the way, is amazing — and I have worked to broaden programming to better reflect the wide range of interests of the Vandal Family. We initiated the Vandal Book Club, an online space to discuss books with fellow alumni. We formed Vandals Uncorked!, a club that highlights the growing number of Vandals in the wine industry and delivers four bottles of delicious Vandal-influenced wines to your door twice a year. We just launched  a version of Monopoly that includes iconic Vandal places.
We also have added events to highlight the beautiful state in which we live. About 100 Vandals floated the Salmon River last July, with a Vandal-owned outfitter for Vandal Rafting Day. Vandal Ski Day happens over Presidents Day Weekend in McCall, and again, is an opportunity to have some fun, enjoy lunch on the mountain and visit with fellow Vandals. So, yes, we’re trying to mix it up and keep it fun. 
CS: Where can our alumni help us achieve our goals? How do they get involved in initiatives like enrollment growth?
KB: Vandal alumni are a passionate, talented, motivated workforce that we can and should tap into more. They serve on advisory boards at the college and institutional level. They help to mentor current students and young alumni – and often end up hiring them. Alumni volunteer to serve in our 17 chapters. They identify and help to recruit potential new Vandals; they help to staff “Meet the Vandals” and other recruiting events. They are our most loyal and generous donors. And, many of them would like to get even more involved. 
CS: Sometimes, newer college graduates don’t engage in the alumni community right away. What are advantages for our younger alumni in getting involved with the alumni association?
KB: There’s a reason other institutions talk in terms of being a “nation,” and we talk about the Vandal “family.” Almost anywhere they land, young alumni will find a group of Vandals ready and able to help them get started. There are formal chapters in all of the major cities in Idaho, plus Portland, Spokane, Seattle, Denver, Phoenix, Sacramento, New York and Washington, D.C., and informal groups in many other places. These provide built-in networks for young alums for career and professional development, as well as a ready-made community who knows what you’re talking about when you mention Hello Walk.
CS: What has it meant to you, personally, to lead the university, your alma mater, in this role?
KB: First of all, it is a great honor. What better way to spend your working days than serving a group of people you know are well-educated, hardworking and good-hearted? The Vandal Family is amazing, and it is wonderful to be charged with finding ways to keep them connected to each other and to the university. I have met and made some wonderful new friends.
Secondly, serving in this capacity is a way to give back to an institution that has given me so much. I received a quality education at the U of I, as did my husband, son, daughter and son-in-law. We all have felt well-prepared to pursue our professional passions and have made friends for a lifetime.
CS: What are you excited about in the future for the Office of Alumni Relations? What should Vandals know?
KB: I am most excited about growing and galvanizing Vandal alumni chapters around the country, and hopefully not too far into the future, around the globe.
Vandals should know the Office of Alumni Relations is a resource for them to connect and engage and volunteer, and that we are here to help in any way we can. They should know that the best way to stay in touch with and informed about their alma mater is to read what we send them, subscribe to The Friday Letter and Vandal Vibe, and follow our social media channels.
Vandals should also know that the education current students are receiving today is as hands-on, relevant and rigorous today as it was when they went to school. The Vandal Family is strong and growing. Go Vandals!

CS: Thank you, Kathy, for your passion and hard work on behalf of our alumni family. I agree – Go Vandals!
Chuck Staben
Chuck Staben
Latest News from U of I

College of Law Class of 1978 Gives Back

In honor of their 40th reunion, the University of Idaho College of Law Class of 1978 reconnected for a weekend of fun. They reflected upon their individual and collective law school experiences and shared the significant role their time at U of I has had on their careers, and more importantly, their lives. To mark the occasion, the class established an endowment to provide an annual scholarship award for College of Law students. The fund will allow the College of Law to provide student scholarships to students who are historically underrepresented among the student body and demonstrate financial need. If you would like to learn more about organizing a College of Law class reunion or giving to the College of Law, contact Michele Bartlett at 111-364-4044 or [email protected]. Mark your calendars with upcoming College of Law events, including the Bellwood Memorial Lecture, Oct. 23 in Boise and Oct. 24 in Moscow.

Higher Education Is the Road to Idaho's Future

Guest column by President Chuck Staben originally  “See it, and you can be it.” That’s the inspiring message you’ll hear often from Jerome High School and University of Idaho alumna Michelle Aragon. Michelle, now a vice president in marketing at a global firm in New York City, recently joined myself and others on a trip to Jerome. We wanted a firsthand look at U of I’s Caminos al Futuro project, a focused effort to improve college-going in the community, especially among Hispanic youth.
This is a beautiful part of Idaho — clear blue skies, fields with growing crops, abundant silos and dairies and other signs of agriculture-based prosperity. But we’re working to make sure the view in communities like Jerome includes college education. Hispanics make up Idaho’s most rapidly growing demographic segment, but educational attainment still lags.

2018 Research Report Reflects Growth and Investment

The Office of Research and Economic Development announces the publication of the University of Idaho's 2018 Research Report. The publication includes a "by the numbers" breakdown of U of I's sponsored research activity, research expenditures and technology commercialization successes. The report also includes a message from Janet Nelson, vice president for research and economic development, and six stories that reflect the university's work for innovation and discovery, its commitment to faculty success, and its drive to advance Idaho’s economy and support the aspirations of its citizens.

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MS 3151
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