| 03.21.2018

Parting with the president — Community reacts to Nellis’ pending departure


Before University of Idaho President M. Duane Nellis had unpacked his moving van in 2009, he was in downtown Moscow in the center of Friendship Square judging a “Most Patriotic Dog” contest with Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney. The contest was part of the City of Moscow Fourth of July celebrations and Chaney said that was how she knew Nellis would be a good fit for the community.
“I knew he was a keeper in that moment,” Chaney said. “I’m sad to hear they’re leaving and I think President Nellis has been an influential leader at the University of Idaho and really led it in a positive direction. We’ll miss him, and his wife Ruthie, of course.”
Nellis announced Friday in an email to students, faculty and staff that he was selected as the sole finalist for the presidency of Texas Tech University.
During their time in Moscow, the Nellises stayed connected to the community, a precedent Chaney said she hopes the next president will continue.
Lt. Dave Lehmitz of the Moscow Police Department frequently met with Nellis and said the department and the city will have to start over to build a new relationship with the next president.
“A lot of those pieces are still in place with the people that we have contact with but with the leader of an organization you have to establish those relationships again,” Lehmitz said.
Lehmitz said he hopes the
relationship between the university and the city remains as open as it has been in recent years.
“I just think it needs to be the same as it was before. We’ve had a great relationship in the past and I don’t foresee that changing in really any way,” Lehmitz said.
Lehmitz said he appreciated that Nellis consistently made an effort to make
his interactions with the city members very personable.
“Him and his wife are just really nice people, always very professional and just really nice people,” Lehmitz said. “One thing that he always told me, he always told me he really appreciated what I did.”
Moscow city council member Wayne Krauss said although he is disappointed Nellis is leaving, he was not overly surprised by the news.
“It seems like Moscow is a community where people come and enrich themselves but they continue to move on as their goals get higher. Moscow seems to be a springboard a lot of times for a lot of folks,” Krauss said.
Krauss said he and the other council members have gotten to know Nellis well during his four years in Moscow and said Nellis and his wife Ruthie have always been welcoming and open to the community, as well as supportive of all university entities.
“I think he’s made an awful lot of friends, and his wife Ruthie is a very warm, welcoming individual and I’m sad to see them go. I think they’ve represented the University of Idaho very well,” Krauss said. “He always invites the city and city officials to the first UI home football game to join him in his presidential box and I can remember last year he was really disappointed that we lost and even though he contained his disappoint, you could tell when we left that he was pretty sad that we hadn’t won.”
Krauss said he’d like to see the relationship between the community and the university continue as the search for Nellis’s replacement takes place.
“The cooperation between the University of Idaho and the City of Moscow has just been really, really good, we seem to be working toward the same goals which is betterment of the University of Idaho and better living conditions in the City of Moscow,” Krauss said. “I’d like to see it continue in the same manner that it has been where we keep working toward the same goals. A really good example of that is the new intermodal transit center.”
Chaney said the Nellis’s have been tremendous community members and said she wishes them the best on behalf of the City of Moscow, but she also sees great things ahead for UI and the community.
“They have been tremendous community members and we will certainly miss them but we have a really strong administrative team at the University of Idaho and I think people will carry the load well until such time as a new president can be selected,” Chaney said.
Kaitlyn Krasselt can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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