Legislative Breakfast 2012

Follow University of Idaho students at the Legislative Breakfast in Boise

The Numbers are In

Our 2012 Legislative Breakfast was a great success.

The 35 students we brought down from Moscow were able to meet with 82 of the 105 Idaho legislators. That means that 78 percent of state representatives and senators met with University of Idaho students to learn more about CEC, financial aid, and other UI and higher education priorities.

In addition, 64 legislators, or 61 percent, went up to the fourth floor of the state Capitol to view displays and information about the university and meet deans or representatives.

Congratulations, everyone, on a very successful trip!

Students pose in front of the Capitol with President Nellis, university representatives and Joe Vandal after a successful morning at the 2012 Legislative Breakfast



Happy University of Idaho Higher Education Day!

Another proud moment for Vandals was in the Office of the Governor this morning, as Idaho Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter signed a proclamation declaring Jan. 25, 2012, University of Idaho Higher Education Day. Otter’s office was crowded with members of the president’s cabinet, university faculty and staff, representatives, senators, Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney, and more.

Students from the Legislative Breakfast also made up a big part of the crowd–when Otter looked at the crowd, he exclaimed, “Well, the whole student body is here!”

Joe Vandal also made an appearance at the event, prompting Otter and President Nellis to “Throw the V.”

Before we left the Capitol for the day, we assembled on the steps for one last picture with Joe:

We’re looking forward to tonight’s events. First, Marty Peterson, former special assistant to the president for state governmental affairs, will be honored. Our group will then head over to the annual Silver and Gold event, which honors exceptional University of Idaho alumni in the Boise area.

CEC is Top Priority: President Nellis + JFAC

This morning President M. Duane Nellis gave a presentation to the Idaho Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. Several interested students, university employees, community members and others crowded the chamber and external viewing rooms to hear Nellis speak about the future of funding for our University of Idaho.

Much of his presentation echoed his appearance at Tuesday’s House Education Committee Meeting (which you can read about here), but the questions the committee asked gave insight to Nellis’ priorities for the university.

“I’m a person who likes to turn challenges into opportunities,” Nellis said when asked how the university has handled recent budget cuts, again using examples of program elimination or combination and redirecting financial aid.

Nellis made it clear that CEC, or change in employee compensation, will be the university’s top priority for this year’s legislative session, both during his presentation and through answering the committee’s questions. Nellis explained that CEC allows the university to properly compensate university faculty and staff, many who have not seen a raise in four or more years.

In closing, Nellis reaffirmed the University of Idaho’s position as a leader for the state in higher education.

“We serve our entire state,” Nellis said. “We’re woven into the fabric of our state since territorial days.”

Ready to Go

Good morning! Our team of students arrived bright and early this morning at the State Capitol well prepared and ready to meet with their legislators. Right now we’re getting ready to watch President Nellis present to JFAC, the Joint Finance-Action Committee

Our student team for Legislative Breakfast, all ready to go before the big day.

Meet the Vandals: New Student + Recruiting Event

This  evening was full of many fun, signature events, but none were as school-spirited as Meet the Vandals. This informational event for prospective and accepted students was hosted by our university’s talented and hardworking Office of Admissions. It featured a welcome by President Nellis, sessions about financial aid, Vandal Friday registration, admission application help, and of course, photos with our mascot Joe Vandal.

The event was well-attended by current students, parents, deans, Provost and Executive Vice President Doug Baker, and many future Vandals. We brought a handful of students in Boise for Legislative Breakfast to the event to speak with prospective students. It is always fun to talk to new or prospective students, and we look forward to seeing these faces around our Moscow campus.

President M. Duane Nellis greets the crowd at Boise recruiting event Meet the Vandals

State Capitol Tour with Joe Stegner

Our Legislative Breakfast group was able to get a tour of the State Capitol building from Joe Stegner this evening. We were lucky in this as Stegner has had a career full of first-hand experience in the building. Before he began his new position as UI’s Special Assistant to the President for State Governmental Relations last month, Stegner served in the Idaho state Senate for seven terms. Here is a look in photos at our capitol tour:

Have you ever visited our State Capitol building?

University of Idaho, Boise at the Idaho Water Center

Thirty-three more Vandals arrived in Boise this afternoon. It is so great to see such a large group of student in our state capital ready to lobby for a fully funded education at the University of Idaho.

Their first stop in Boise was at the University of Idaho, Boise headquarters, or the Idaho Water Center. Dr. Trudy Anderson, Associate Vice President and CEO, gave us a warm welcome. Anderson and her staff not only served us lunch, but gave us a detailed presentation about the Boise campus featuring several staff and faculty members as well as graduate students. We learned about several of the programs offered on our Boise campus, including our medical education program, WWAMI (learn more here), the College of Education and the College of Law.

Students were then treated to presentations about three of University of Idaho, Boise’s focuses. Michael Greenlee, associate law librarian, showed us the Idaho State Law Library. The library’s 30,000 volume collection (in addition to the 100,000 volumes located at the Idaho Supreme Court) caters to UI’s third-year law students who spend their final semester at our Boise campus.

Associate Professor and Director Sherry McKibben then showed students what goes on behind the scenes at the Idaho Urban Research Design Center. This program, in its twelfth year, feels right at home in its southern Idaho “urban environment.” McKibben explained that locating this graduate program in the state capital regularly gives students an advantage when searching for internships and job opportunities because of the many projects that are centered around urban design or high performance buildings.

The last stop on our tour was the Stream Lab, home to ecohydraulics and the famous flume. Ralph Budwig, director of engineering for the Boise campus and director of the Center for Ecohydraulics. The sediment flume allows researchers at the center to research streams and rivers in a controlled environment. We were lucky to be able to see it in action with the water flowing at about 3.5 cubic feet per second–though it can run as high as 35 cubic feet per second.

If you are interested in spending your time as a graduate student at the University of Idaho, Boise, I encourage you to read more about their research, programs, students, alumni and prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for High Research Activity at www.uidaho.edu/boise.

UI Legislative Breakfast participants pose in front of the University of Idaho, Boise flume

Thank you again to the kind staff at UI’s Boise campus for the kind welcome and informational tour!

Bruno Bennett, Student Lobbyist

Student blogger Hannah Blankenship and ASUI Student Lobbyist Bruno Bennett pose in front of the office of the governor this week in Boise.

One of the many unique facets about the University of Idaho is its serious dedication to the student voice.  At the beginning of each legislative session, Associated Students University of Idaho (or ASUI, the student body government), hires an undergraduate student lobbyist to work at the state legislature.

This January, Bruno Bennett, a junior studying political science and business management, is fulfilling this role. He moved to Boise for the semester and will represent Vandals while the legislature is in session.

In addition to being a huge help in planning legislative breakfast, Bennett will assist ASUI by making our student body government be more accessible in Boise.

“Bruno is extremely charismatic and not afraid to approach legislators,” Samantha Perez, ASUI president, said. “He is an excellent liaison for us.”

You can read more about Bennett in the University of Idaho’s student newspaper, The Argonauthere and here.

House Education Committee

This morning brought a proud moment for Vandals as University of Idaho President M. Duane Nellis and ASUI President Samantha Perez presented to the Idaho House Education Committee.

President Nellis began his presentation by reflecting on a proud moment in Vandal history, the Morrill Act, which was responsible for the creation of land-grant institutions 150 years ago. Nellis told the committee that he would share information about UI, the “important statewide network that benefits the state each day,” before beginning a well-received presentation.

Nellis’ speech touched on several of  UI’s innovative programs and the proud graduates who contribute to our state through our judicial system, the business or medical communities, or more.

“It’s not just about us,” Nellis said, turning his focus towards the state as a whole, “but about higher education in general.”

He noted that for every $1 the state legislature spends on higher education at the University of Idaho, the state sees a $9 return. One of the primary ways UI demonstrates this is through its research efforts. Nellis noted that he takes “great pride” in the amount of research done at the university. As an example of the 70 percent of undergraduates who participate in research, he cited a recent project where engineering majors created a device now used by airplane giant Boeing.

Outreach and public service is another point of pride for many Vandals, including President Nellis. UI students performed more than 150,000 hours of community service last year through days of service, class projects, alternative service breaks and more.

“What a profound difference that’s making in our Idaho communities,” Nellis said.

Nellis then moved on to three of his focus areas: retention, graduation rates and research. He reported that UI students are exceeding in all three areas. The rate of UI freshman who return for their sophomore year is 80 percent, and our graduation rates are almost twice that of other institutions in the state. UI research expenditures are almost $100 million, or 73 percent of the total spent by the state.

“Our bottom line is that this research touches every aspect of our state,” Nellis said. “We’re above many of our peers nationally, and we’re very proud of that.”

Nellis closed his presentation by touching on the $30 million in budget cuts that have affected the university. As many Vandals know, most of the UI faculty haven’t had raises in four or more years.

“We’re doing more with less,” Nellis said.

The questions, comments and praise that followed his presentation by Idaho representatives were all positive.

“Thank you for that stimulating and exciting report,” Vice Chairman Shirley said. “I’m excited by the programs you provide.”

Perez was able to give a short report to the committee before they headed upstairs. She explained why, as a high school senior, she decided why the University of Idaho was right for her, citing UI signature programs like ASB (alternative service break) and opportunities in student government.

“It truly is the Vandal family,” Perez said.

We are now off to the University of Idaho, Boise campus, also known as the Idaho Water Center, to meet the rest of our student representatives for a tour of the facilities.

Go Vandals!


A Big Meeting with Lt. Gov. Little

This afternoon we were lucky enough to schedule a meeting with Brad Little, Idaho’s lieutenant governor. Little offered valuable advice about how to work effectively with the state legislature.

Samantha Perez and Bruno Bennett began by presenting information about a few of our key issues we’ll be lobbying for this week. Little listened carefully before asking some tough questions–for example, why is higher education more important than other issues facing the state? While these were initially tough to hear, they fostered quality discussion and ultimately prepared us for the kind of feedback we may face before the legislature later this week.

Though Little initially seemed skeptical of increasing spending on higher education, later conversation revealed that he is indeed a thoughtful advocate for (and alumni of!) the University of Idaho.

When the discussion turned to UI’s research and development expenditures, which are more than four times that of ISU and BSU (as seen here and here), Little agreed that “UI is clearly on the forefront.”

Little was also able to relate to one of our most important issues, change in employee compensation (CEC). This is an imperative issue for many Vandals because the vast majority of UI’s faculty and staff have not had raises in four or more years. By lobbying the state legislature for more funding, we hope to be able to give UI employees what they are worth.

“If we’re going to invest in education, we have to attract and retain the best,” Little said.

We look forward to greeting Lt. Gov. Little on the fourth floor rotunda for Legislative Breakfast on Wednesday.

Go Vandals!