October 22, 2009
Dear Friend of Idaho State University,
At Idaho State University, we aren't just an institution. We are part of a larger community.
And, when tragedy occurs, I am always proud and in awe of how our students, faculty and staff step up as a part of the community and help others in need.
On the evening of Oct. 12, after taking top honors at the ISU Marching Band Invitational, members of the American Fork High School band were in a tragic accident that took the life of one of their leaders, woodwind instructor Heather Christensen. Dozens more were injured, and a night that began with happiness and celebration ended with confusion and sadness.
The American Fork High School band should be commended for their strength — even while mourning their beloved teacher, they voted to continue their performance schedule in her honor.
Since that night I have heard from parents of the students thanking the entire community for their compassion and generosity, including ISU employees who made sure that families who were physically and emotionally exhausted had a place to stay that night.
While it makes me proud to hear that members of the ISU community went out of their way to help others, I wasn't surprised.
Every day, our students, faculty and staff work beyond the parameters of their job, helping others and making our communities a better place.
Students of the Student Academy of Audiology/National Future Doctors of Audiology Club at ISU recently raised funds to help a Blackfoot man use a cochlear implant that will miraculously give him the ability to hear.
Nursing professor and associate dean Carol Ashton has worked for 13 years on the Navajo Nation Indian reservation through the Adopt-an-Elder program. She and her colleagues developed a home health program called Homebound, which offers health services to the elderly in remote areas of the reservation.
Recently, a group of 10 nursing students and their instructor, Kim Jardine-Dickerson, offered a crisis intervention training workshop in Salmon. There, they impressed Salmon's Crisis Center Executive Director Denise Bender with their knowledge and insight. In a letter to school administration, Bender said the students gave her "hope for a healthier community."
Business officers Lynn Roberts and Scott Turner saw that veterans attending the University sometimes needed more assistance, and spearheaded the effort to establish the Veterans Sanctuary, a program designed specifically to help veterans.
Institute of Rural Health's Ann D. Kirkwood was recently honored with a Voice Award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for exemplary service in the mental health field. Kirkwood is the director of Better Todays. Better Tomorrows. (B2T2), a program funded by the State of Idaho that is designed to educate school employees and the larger community on the signs and symptoms of trauma and mental illnesses in youth, and to identify barriers to treatment.
Linda Smith, director of the Associate Degree Registered Nurse Program at the College of Technology, was recently given an Idaho State Journal Business Award for her work with her students. Smith established the program she now directs, and is known not only for her students' high pass rate on national program exams, but for the dedication she shows to her students, helping remove potential roadblocks to their success.
The Idaho State University Community Service Center taught children the importance of giving last June when they helped elementary-aged students from the Early Learning Center host a door-to-door food drive in the community. The group also hosts an annual toiletries drive to offer needed items to the homeless in Southeast Idaho.
There are countless more stories like these, and even more instances where our faculty and staff have done small things that make a big difference — helping lost students find their classes, going the extra mile to make sure those who come to the university get the tools they need to succeed.
I'm proud of the ISU community, and the greater community where we live. It's the people, who often work selflessly to help others, who make ISU great.
Arthur C. Vailas, Ph.D.
President, Idaho State University