[Vision2020] Fwd: The Friday Letter: Presidential Update

Ron Force ronforce at gmail.com
Fri May 25 10:44:14 PDT 2018

This is a difficult letter to write. In a mutual decision reached with our
State Board, the upcoming academic year will be my last as president.
[image: Letter from the President]

May 25, 2018
Dear Friends,
This is a difficult letter to write. But I have always been upfront with
our Vandal family, and I know word travels fast. In a mutual decision
reached with our State Board of Education, the upcoming 2018-2019 academic
year will be my last as president of the University of Idaho.

The past four years have been personally very rewarding, and I am proud of
what we have accomplished together. I know that the road we’ve traveled has
not been without contention. My candidacy for another position in fall 2017
caused a distraction. We’ve had disagreements about the appropriate place
for our football program and other topics. Not every decision has been
popular, and some issues have been divisive.

Some may wonder whether this decision is related to recent, well-publicized
sexual misconduct issues in our Athletics Department. This decision is not
connected to our ongoing review of such issues; that review is proceeding,
and a report will be available soon.

While some may focus on the more divisive issues, we have made significant
progress together during these years in many key areas for the university.
We’ve achieved consecutive years of enrollment increases
countering a national trend in the opposite direction, and have had student
success efforts pay off with increases in retention — 82 percent last year.
We’ve grown our annual research expenditures from $95.6 million in
FY14 to $109.5
million in FY17
— the fuel behind innovation and discovery that makes an impact throughout
Idaho and beyond. We have also set U of I records for fundraising.

In the year ahead, I am focused on continuing our university’s progress
toward Strategic Plan goals and implementing key initiatives in support of
those goals. These are big wins that will long outlive my time here. For
instance, the ICCU Arena project
continues to be a top priority — a much-needed space for student-athlete
success and a showcase for Idaho wood construction. We have raised about
$35 million in this $45 million project, with notable support from Idaho
Central Credit Union, our student government, our alumni association, the U
of I Foundation and others. Let’s work together to finish the fundraising
and break ground this year to take this project over the finish line.

I also want to continue to improve our state’s college-going culture. The
Direct Admissions program and other State Board of Education collaborations
like Apply Idaho have laid the groundwork for bringing more Idaho students
into the life-changing educational experience
we offer at U of I. Higher education offers a way forward for our state’s
citizens, who want to grow and learn and excel in the fast-changing, global
economy. The outstanding success of our graduates — with unmatched career
outcomes in our state — testifies to the importance of bringing more people
into that experience. Let’s make sure we’re fighting for each and every
student to grow and thrive at our university.

Innovation is another area of continued focus. Whether among our
interdisciplinary teams at the Integrated Research and Innovation Center,
at our Rock Creek Ranch rangeland research project, or in the humanities
and social sciences, we have applied Vandal excellence to searching for
solutions to critical problems and complex issues. One important initiative
is the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE)
the largest and most advanced research dairy in the country. We have a
chance to apply our land-grant strengths to this interdisciplinary project
in service to the largest agricultural industry in the state. It is vital
we move this project forward.

We achieve excellence through a united effort. In the coming year, we must
stay focused on achieving collaborative success, and on continuing to serve
land-grant ideals in our educational, research and outreach missions to the
state of Idaho and beyond. I am committed to offering stable leadership as
we carry out this important work.

It is an honor and a privilege to be the president of the University of
Idaho, and to have helped write a chapter in the nearly 130-year history of
this university. Transitions like this are rarely easy. Thank you for your
understanding, and for your support of the University of Idaho as we write
our next chapters. Go Vandals!
[image: Chuck Staben]
Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
[image: Facebook]
[image: Twitter]
[image: UI Pres.]
UI Pres.
[image: LinkedIn]
[image: Instagram]
[image: YouTube]
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