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University of Idaho president to leave in 2019

Education

The State Board of Education and Chuck Staben have mutually agreed that the 2018-19 academic year will be Staben’s last as University of Idaho president.

Staben has been the U of I’s president since 2014, but he will leave next spring, when his contract expires. Meanwhile, the State Board is developing a request for proposal for a firm to lead the search to find new presidents at the U of I and Boise State University.

The State Board announced Staben’s departure in a brief news release issued late Friday morning.

“The board and President Staben agree this is the proper course to take,” said State Board President Linda Clark.  “I thank him for his service and I wish him the best.”

Shortly after the State Board’s announcement, Staben issued a letter to the U of I community, in which he said his time as president “has not been without contention.” He said his departure is unrelated to an ongoing sexual misconduct investigation in the U of I’s athletics department; Athletic Director Rob Spear has been placed on paid administrative leave while the investigation continues.

“That review is proceeding, and a report will be available soon,” Staben said Friday.

Last fall, Staben was a finalist for the president’s job at the University of New Mexico. Staben interviewed on the campus in October, but UNM ultimately selected Garnett Stokes, an administrator from the University of Missouri. In his letter, Staben said his application at UNM “caused a distraction” for the U of I.

A U of I news release touted several milestones during Staben’s time as president — such as effort to boost university research, now a $109 million undertaking; developing a nine-year strategic plan focused on increasing enrollment and improving student access to courses; staff training on Title IX issues; and bringing the idea of a new, on-campus basketball arena “from a dream to an achievable reality.”

Friday’s news leaves the State Board to fill, arguably, the two most visible administrative jobs in Idaho’s higher education system.

Boise State President Bob Kustra announced his retirement plans in November, but no successor is in place. After an initial search that attracted 53 candidates and carried a price tag of about $100,000, the State Board abruptly decided last week to start over.

For more details on the BSU president search, click here. 

The State Board will set a timeline for the U of I and Boise State searches once a firm is selected.

“The board will now focus on finding the next leaders for the University of Idaho and Boise State,” Clark said.

The U of I shakeup comes amidst historic turnover in the state’s higher education system. In April, the State Board named new presidents at Idaho State University and Lewis-Clark State College. Kevin Satterlee, former chief operating officer, vice president and special counsel at Boise State University — will take over at ISU in June. Cynthia Pemberton, vice president for academic affairs at Colorado Mesa University, will take the LCSC job on July 1.

This article was originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org on May 25. It is used here with permission.

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