Chuck Staben, the fourth of five finalists in the search for the next University of Idaho president visited the Moscow campus on Thursday to speak about improving research efforts, student affairs and faculty satisfaction at UI.
He began his open forum causing laughter throughout the roughly 50-person audience in the Administration Building Auditorium, by recognizing the quirky characteristics of Idaho and connecting them to the interests of his family.
Receiving his bachelors degree and Ph.D. in biochemistry, Staben referred to himself as a “numbers guy” and “kind of geeky” when he recognized Idaho’s low rankings in various capacities compared to other states.
Staben said Idaho is ranked 50th in National Institutes of Health funding, 50th in per capita income, 49th in academic research and development and 48th in postsecondary entry after high school graduation. He said Idaho’s numbers could improve dramatically, if UI allocated more time and energy into those areas.
Staben is currently the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of South Dakota and said he would use the same successful measures at UI that allowed him to contribute to USD’s increases in enrollment, retention, graduation numbers, honors programs and research dollars.
“We need more students, more graduates, more research and greater engagement,” Staben said.
What’s typically a selling point for most interested in UI — that it’s a land-grant university — is not what attracted Staben to the university. Instead, Staben likes that UI is a research university and sees a lot of potential in the programs and collaborations UI has with research initiatives — both in the state and nationally.
Staben has over 20 research publications and said UI would greatly benefit from his expertise in research projects. He noted the excellence of UI’s research park located in Post Falls, Idaho.
Staben said he is a champion of diversity in educational institutions. He said he has tripled the number of USD students who study abroad while allocating more resources to the promotion of international students coming to USD — a tactic he plans to use at UI if selected as the next president.
In addition to concentrating on increasing international students, Staben said he also has a focus on adult learners and non-traditional students because they require more flexibility because their learning habits differ from students fresh out of high school.
Addressing safety concerns, Staben said concerns that are currently associated with being “women’s issues” need to also become “men’s issues” because often times men are the perpetrators in violent acts. Staben said he supports an all-inclusive program to increase the safety at UI and hopes to contribute like-minded programs in the future.
Staben addressed UI’s reputation for having a high presidential turnover rate and said UI would be a good fit for both himself and the university, because he is looking for one last job where he can leave an impact before retirement.
The final finalist in the presidential search — Laurie Stenberg Nichols, the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs for South Dakota State University — will visit the Moscow campus on Tuesday.
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