C of I Newsletter

2012. 06. 22

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Alumnus Eric Grunke '01 named Marine Corps Aviator of the Year

Maj. J. Eric Grunke '01

Flying in the darkness toward Libya’s coastline on March 22, 2011, Maj. Eric Grunke ’01 raced to save a brother in arms.

On the ground below, an Air Force pilot whispered to Grunke from a hiding place near his crashed F-15.

“Tell my wife I love her.”

It was day three of Operation Odyssey Dawn, an international effort to protect the Libyan people from Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s regime, and the pilot was being pursued by several vehicles near the city of Benghazi. As the Libyan troops closed in, Grunke dropped two bombs from his Harrier, destroying their targets and causing the other pursuers to retreat.

Thanks largely to those heroic actions, Grunke recently was named Marine Corps Aviator of the Year.

“I never thought I’d be in the same category as a person like John Glenn, who was first recipient of the award,” Grunke said. “I was not alone that night. It was a team effort, everyone from my wingman who flew right next to me and looked out for surface threats to the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft pilots who flew out to pick up the pilot. I was so happy to be a part of that.”

From College to the Corps

Grunke’s connections to The College of Idaho and the military are extensive. Both of his parents, a sister and his wife are alumni of the College, while his father served in the Navy Reserve and brother served in the Marine Corps Reserve.

While the Weiser native started as a pre-med student, his thoughts soon turned to flying and he discovered the Marine Corps would guarantee him a spot in its pilot training program. So Grunke attended officer training at Quantico Marine Corps Base during his summers and went on active duty after graduating from the C of I in 2001.

Throughout his time in the Marine Corps, Grunke said his experiences at the C of I have been invaluable.

“I was part of a tight knit community at The College of Idaho, and being a pilot is like that … the sense of camaraderie is similar,” Grunke said. “The diversity, being a music minor and biology major, that broad background has been really helpful as a Marine officer.”

Protecting Libya’s People

Before participating in Operation Odyssey Dawn, Grunke’s unit had been deployed on a humanitarian aid mission to Pakistan.

“We were following along what was happening with the Arab Spring, but we weren’t sure whether we’d get involved,” he said.

The situation escalated, however, and on March 19, Grunke’s squadron was called into action, tasked with destroying tanks and other military targets that Gadhafi was using to attack his own people.

Grunke is proud of what he and his fellow Marines accomplished during two weeks of operations in Libya. On the first night of operations, one of the major roads into Benghazi – a flashpoint for the Libyan uprising – was completely blocked off by troops loyal to Gadhafi.

“By night four after we had been pounding him, the road was open and there was civilian traffic going both ways,” Grunke said. “I witnessed a really tangible result from that mission to support the rebels. I could see the difference and I’ll always remember how important that was.”

The College of Idaho loses a legend

R.C. Owens

The College of Idaho lost one of its most beloved alumni when R.C. Owens '58 passed away on June 17. Owens was a pioneering star athlete at the College who went on to NFL fame with the San Francisco 49ers. He was 78 years old.

Owens was a three-sport star at the C of I, excelling in football, basketball and track. He also was a part of the cheerleading squad when an injury kept him out of his senior football season. On the basketball court, Owens notched a double-double in every game he ever played, led the nation in rebounding and was part of the Coyotes famous 1954-55 team alongside future NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor.

After college, Owens was drafted by both the 49ers and the Minneapolis Lakers of the NBA. He chose to play professional football and became famous for his "Alley-Oop" catches, where he would use his 6-foot-3 frame and famed leaping ability to soar above defenders for game-winning catches. The term "Alley-Oop" later became widely used for the lob pass-slam dunk play in basketball. Owens is a member of multiple sports hall of fames, including The College of Idaho Hall of Fame and the San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame.

When his playing career was over, Owens joined the 49ers front office. He served as director of training camp and, later, alumni relations. His passing was chronicled by many national and local media outlets, including the Idaho Press-Tribune, the Idaho Statesman, KTVB Channel 7 News, USA Today, the New York Times, ESPN, the Kansas City Star, the San Francisco Examiner, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, Comcast Sportsnet and the Vallejo Times-Herald.

The C of I extends its heartfelt condolences to the Owens family.

C of I students promote peace through soccer in Brazil

Peace Me the Ball

The 'Peace Me the Ball' project has given C of I student Mauricio Santiago an opportunity to work with children from his hometown of Lauro Freitas, Brazil.

As native South Americans, College of Idaho juniors Mauricio Santiago and Luis Reyes know firsthand how poverty impacts their homeland. Santiago and Reyes also know of their culture’s deep love of soccer, an affection they plan to use to help impoverished children this summer through their Davis Project for Peace, “Peace Me the Ball.”

The two students will travel to Santiago’s hometown of Lauro Freitas, Brazil thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Davis Foundation. From July 30 to August 25, the students will coach soccer and help teach children – including homeless street kids, public school students and residents of the local SOS Children’s Village– about the dangers of drugs and delinquency through conflict resolution seminars and other activities aimed at developing tolerance, respect, humility and honesty.

“Luis and I really care about our Latin American communities,” said Santiago, who is majoring in business, language and culture at the C of I. “Most of these kids are homeless, and it’s hard to see those situations. We want to use soccer to educate kids and get them to use their talents for the best. Luis and I were able to get scholarships and go to college, so hopefully we can get inspire some of these kids to go back to school and show them that there is always hope.”

Like many Latin American boys, Santiago and Reyes played soccer growing up. They met while attending an international high school in Costa Rica and both came to the C of I as Davis United World College Scholars. Their inspiration for “Peace Me the Ball” came while watching a group of shoeless boys kick an old ball around on the dusty streets of Havana on a recent visit to Cuba.

“We just thought about how people are investing in our education in the U.S. and how there are a million boys just like us back home who will not have that chance,” said Reyes, a native of Lima, Peru who is studying anthropology, sociology and political economy at C of I. “At that point, we agreed we should use the resources and opportunities we had if it could help even a small number of people. That’s when we decided to submit a Davis Project for Peace proposal.”

In preparation for their trip to Brazil, Santiago and Reyes created a project Facebook page and organized two on-campus fundraisers: a PlayStation tournament and a 7-on-7 soccer tournament. They also received support from professors, the International Student Organization and community members. The soccer equipment purchased with the extra funds will be left in Brazil at the end of the project in hopes that “Peace Me the Ball” will grow and be replicated throughout Latin America, similar to programs such as “Girls on the Run” here in the United States. Photos from the fundraisers are available on the C of I Flickr page.

“It’s wonderful to see the passion that students put into these Davis Projects for Peace,” said Rob Dayley, a professor of political economy who also advises the Davis United World College Scholars program at the C of I. “Mauricio and Luis are wholly dedicated to their idea and its merits. Soccer is a great hook to bring kids together to teach important life skills. I know Mauricio and Luis will become great role models to the young boys in Brazil who benefit from their efforts.”

The College of Idaho now has had a Davis Project for Peace funded in each of the last five years. Students previously completed projects in Malawi, Tanzania, Egypt and Ecuador. To learn more about Davis Projects for Peace, visit www.davisprojectsforpeace.org.

All donations to “Peace Me the Ball” are welcome and tax deductible. To donate, call (208) 559-4457 or email [email protected].

College seeks alumni giving record

By June 30, The College of Idaho looks to set another alumni giving record and achieve the highest giving percentage of any college in the Pacific Northwest. Alumni and friends of the College have until June 30 to make a tax-deductible gift that will count toward the 2011-2012 fiscal year. To make a quick and easy online gift, please visit www.collegeofidaho.edu/makeagift.

Last year, a record 36 percent of the College’s alumni made a gift. The more than 2,400 gifts totaled nearly $1 million and pushed the C of I to No. 2 in giving amongst Pacific Northwest schools, trailing only Whitman College at 41 percent.

“We are so grateful that our alumni have responded so generously in recent years,” said Michael Vandervelden, vice president for college relations. “It is remarkable to see the love and support our alumni have for the College, and we hope even more will join us this year as we look to overtake Whitman for the No. 1 spot.”

The C of I has more than doubled its alumni giving rate since 2007 in spite of a challenging national economic climate. While giving to higher education has decreased nationwide, the College’s giving percentage has climbed into the top 10 percent of all colleges in the United States. Boone Fund director Tara Wensel and the student Coyote Callers recently capped another successful year, raising $120,000 for the College’s unrestricted annual fund through the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 Phonathons.

C of I writer Rember releases new book of stories

College of Idaho writer-at-large and former writing and literature professor John Rember has published a new book of stories entitled Sudden Death, Over Time, which hit shelves last week. Rember describes the book as a collection of "dark, seductive and broodingly ironic" short stories that emerge from the uncertainty, failing infrastructures and moral ambiguity of our modern time.

“I'd like to see this book get out into the world,” Rember said. “It will make a good gift for any friend who has a dark sense of humor about higher education, or relations between men and women, or getting older, or making meaning in a world hostile to meaning, or the Law of Unintended Consequences.

“If you don't have a dark sense of humor about any of these things, this book will give you one.”

The 146-page, paperback book is available for $14 plus shipping. Rember encourages readers to buy directly from the publisher, Wordcraft of Oregon, at www.wordcraftoforegon.com. The book also is being distributed by Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Ingram’s.

Sudden Death, Over Time has drawn positive reviews from critics and fellow writers, including author Tim Sandlin.

“John Rember tears your heart out and replaces it with his own,” Sandlin said. “No one I know of comes close to his mastery of the short story. Read him and weep.”

You can watch Rember give a reading entitled "Vietnam is Our Future" based on his recent trip to the country on the C of I YouTube channel.


Summer 2012

College Events Calendar

July 14

Third annual Alumni and Friends Willamette Valley Wine Tour (Portland, Ore.) RSVP by emailing [email protected]

July 23

Must See Monday admission event, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., C of I campus. Click to register

July 28

C of I Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Friends Night with the Boise Hawks, 6 p.m., Memorial Stadium (Boise)

August 13

Must See Monday admission event, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., C of I campus. Click to register


The College of Idaho extends its condolences to the family of Helen Lowell '26, who recently passed away at her home in Roswell. Lowell, a longtime Idaho school teacher, had been the College's oldest alumna at 106 years old. Her life was the subject this Idaho Press-Tribune article. A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, June 23 at Sterry Memorial Presbyterian Church in Roswell.

C of I alumnus Dr. Kent Holsinger ’78 was featured by UConn Today at the University of Connecticut, where he recently was named a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the university’s highest faculty honor. Holsinger majored in biology at the C of I.

C of I sports information director Mike Safford has begun his eighth season as the radio voice of the Boise Hawks minor league baseball team. Safford maintains an award-winning blog, "On the Mike," and also hosts a pre-game show, including Tuesday and Friday shows discussing "Business, Baseball and Politics" with C of I Professor Jasper LiCalzi on KTIK 1350 AM.

College of Idaho students Ryan Gibson and Kendra Knighten have begun blogging from their summer internship studying international development in Bangladesh. The students also were featured in the Boise Weekly Q & A feature, "Citizen."

C of I alumnus Mike Zollman ’88 has been named a Vice President at Hill International, a construction risk management firm. Zollman joins the company’s Construction Claims Group. He has more than 20 years of experience in construction claims and project management oversight. Zollman studied accounting at the C of I and also earned a law degree from Pepperdine University.

A picture from The College of Idaho's 2011 Winter Wilderness Experience recently was featured as "Photo of the Week" by the ski blog "Free Heel Granola." Stay tuned: a follow-up interview with C of I professor and WWE director Scott Knickerbocker could be in the works!

Check out photos from the C of I Alumni and Friends Summer Picnic on the C of I Flickr page. Big thanks go out to the more than 100 alumni and family members who joined us at Municipal Park and made the event a success! 

College of Idaho alumni siblings Jeremy Johnson ’05 and Rachel Johnson ’03 are members of the Nashville country/folk band The Barrel Jumpers, which will record its first studio album this year after raising more than $8,000 from supporters through the project funding platform Kickstarter. Visit The Barrel Jumpers’ Facebook page to meet the band members and listen to some sample tracks.

C of I alumnus Stan Zatica ’76 has been named to the board of the Cenarrusa Foundation for Basque Culture in Boise. Zatica studied business administration, marketing and management at the C of I and currently is the owner of Paul’s Markets in Homedale, Nampa, Caldwell, McCall, Kuna and Boise.

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