In continuing the search for the next University of Idaho president, James Applegate, consultant and philanthropist for higher education and former vice president of strategic impact for the Lumina Foundation is on campus today as the third of five finalists for the position.
Applegate is visiting UI campuses across the state this week and will host an open forum on the Moscow campus at 9 a.m. in the Administration Auditorium and at 3:30 p.m. at the 1912 Center today.
During the last five years, Applegate worked as a member of the executive team at the Lumina Foundation — the largest foundation in the United States dedicated to improving higher education.
Holiday Hart McKiernan, Lumina Foundation chief of staff and general counsel worked closely with Applegate at Lumina and said his effort to meet the foundation’s goal of having 60 percent of Americans hold quality degrees by 2025 was unparalleled.
“(Applegate) is passionate about higher education,” McKiernan said. “At the very core of what he believes and what matters to him is that higher education is a life-changing event and that it’s absolutely essential that he provides meaningful education experiences for students. He has been a strong contributor for Lumina’s vision, but he’s also been a champion and an advocate for it.”
From 1993-1999 Applegate was the chair of the communication department at the University of Kentucky. McKiernan said his experience and degrees in communication would be beneficial to any institution.
“He would be a very good witness or testifier before legislators — he actually did that in his roll at Lumina,” McKiernan said. “I think from the perspective of being able to advance the University of Idaho effectively before the legislature — he would be excellent in that roll because he is one of the best communicators I have ever been around.”
Prior to working at the Lumina Foundation, Applegate was the vice president for academic affairs and senior fellow for the Council of Postsecondary Education in Frankfurt, Ky.
Ron Carson, senior fellow and legislative liaison for the Council of Post Secondary Education, said Applegate has a legacy in the Southeast for making strides in refining the education system in the state of Kentucky.
“We’ve been fortunate to have outstanding academic leaders in this agency over the years,” Carson said. “I would say that Applegate is right there at the top.”
In addition to his professional careers in education, Applegate has been a consultant and philanthropist for higher education for several institutions. In November 2012 he gave a speech at the Complete College Ohio Conference where he addressed a root problem in the U.S. education system.
“Dramatically increasing college attainment levels of our workforce in this country is one of the most important challenges that we face,” Applegate said. “It is one we must meet if our children and grandchildren are going to have anything like lives many of us have been privileged to have in the last 50 years.”
The final two candidates in the search for the next UI president will be on campus within the next week. The Board of Regents will select one of the five finalists to be the next UI president by the end of the semester. The selected person will begin the position sometime on or before July 1 depending on current contractual obligations.
Amber Emery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org