| 03.20.2018

Presidential candidates announced


The University of Idaho hopes to select its next president by the end of the semester, after announcing the finalists for the position earlier this week. Don Soltman, Idaho State Board of Education president and member of the search committee said a final candidate will be chosen by mid-November, and could start anytime between Jan 1, and July 1 depending on contractual obligations.

The five finalists were chosen from a pool of 70 applicants and will be on every UI campus in the state for open forums throughout October.

Laurie Stenberg-Nichols — Provost and vice president for academic affairs at South Dakota State University

Serves as chief academic officer for South Dakota State University — the flagship and land-grant university of South Dakota.

Duties include providing leadership to academic programs, developing curricula and academic policies. Faculty affairs, student success, campus operations and the academic budget are also included.

B.S. in Home Economics Education, M.A. in Vocational and Adult Education, Ph.D. in Family and Consumer Sciences Education

Open forum date TBD

James Applegate — Consultant for higher education and philanthropy 

Advises national, state, and regional education and philanthropic organizations to increase effectiveness of programs to improve college access and success

Former vice president for strategic impact for the Lumina Foundation

B.A. in Communication and American Studies, M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication

Open forum date TBD


Donald Birx — Chancellor and professor at Penn State Erie

Former vice chancellor and president for research in the University of Houston System in Houston, Texas, and former interim vice provost and president for research at New Mexico State University.

Co-founded the Center for Life-Long Learning that focuses on education of non-traditional students to increase diversity and access for disadvantaged students.

B.S., Engineering Physics, M.S. in Bio-Physics, M.B.A. in Finance, Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering

Will be on campus at 9 a.m., Oct. 8 for an open forum in the Administration Auditorium. A Community open forum will take place at 3:30 p.m., location TBD.


Jack Payne — Senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, administrative head for the Institute of Food and Agricultural Science at the University of Florida

Played major role in the university’s recent $1.7 billion capital campaign.

Created interdisciplinary centers to help lead strategic change within the university’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Science, and led efforts that resulted in record-making contracts and grants.

B.A. in Biology from Temple University, M.S. in Aquatic Ecology, Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology

Will be on campus at 9 a.m., Oct. 15 for an open forum in the Administration Auditorium. A Community open forum will take place at 3:30 p.m., location TBD.


Chuck Staben — Provost and vice president for academic affairs at University of South Dakota

Overall budget responsibility of approximately $40 million of state and tuition funds and recently collaborated with the university’s VP-Finance to develop a Responsibility Centered Management budget approach.

Doubled extramural research awards in academic affairs and established educational site at Crazy Horse Memorial focused on Native American students.

B.S. in Biochemistry, Ph.D. in Biochemistry

Open forum date TBD


The search for the next University of Idaho president began in April after former UI president M. Duane Nellis departed for the presidency at Texas Tech University.

Don Soltman, SBOE president and member of the search committee, said the finalists were selected based on criteria laid out in the position profile developed by the SBOE.

The profile specified desirable candidates should possess significant senior level administrative and academic experience, a proactive commitment to student-centered learning, student needs and intercollegiate athletics and demonstrated experience and success in institutionalizing diversity.

“We were looking for those candidates that fit that profile that we developed,” Soltman said. “Well of the finalists we have four men, one woman. We got a woman in there, that’s a good thing. You’re bound to select your finalists out of the applicant pool and in all honesty the pool of people that are out there age-wise, experience-wise and wanting to come to Moscow.”

In terms of leadership characteristics the board specified qualified candidates would have excellent honor and character, are open and receptive with a sense of humor, cares about others and is a creative visionary.

“There were applicants that I think anyone looking at the entire pool would say there was diversity in the applicant pool,” said Marilyn Whitney, chief communications and legislative officer for the SBOE.

UI paired with AGB Search — a search firm that specializes in searches for governing boards for universities and colleges across the nation.

The position was open through Aug. 15 and was open to all qualified applicants. In addition, candidates could also be nominated and asked to submit an application. Many candidates were actively sought by AGB Search.

“The board had an opportunity … AGB search had set up an online website where the search committee members could go and review the applicants,” Soltman said.

The total cost for AGB’s sevices was $70,000 plus travel expenses for the two consultants to visit Idaho, Whitney said.

The search committee is made up of several SBOE members, UI administrators, former ASUI president Hannah Davis and Shirley Ringo, Latah Country representative in the state legislature.

“I know that (Davis) and (Interim President Don Burnett) would give many thanks to the committee,” Whitney said. “It was 16 very busy people who volunteered a great deal of their time to reviewing 70 applications and then the days and hours that they spent working on the profile and also doing the interviews. That group worked really hard and did a tremendous job.”

Kaitlyn Krasselt can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu 


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