Idaho picks USD’s Staben for president role, passing on Nichols

The Collegian

SDSU provost and vice president for academic affairs Laurie Nichols was not selected as the next president of the University of Idaho Monday, after a month as one of five finalists in the search. 

The University of Idaho announced that its new president would be Chuck Staben, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of South Dakota. 

The opportunity at Idaho, which is located in Moscow in the northern Palouse region of the state on the Idaho-Washington border, was a chance for Nichols to old return to old stomping grounds. She was an associate professor at Idaho from 1988-1994. 

Nichols visited the campus in Moscow, Idaho during October and participated in a public forum, in which she indicated that her experience with the university was one of the reason’s she applied for the position. 

“I do have to tell you when the University of Idaho’s presidency became open, it was one I was interested in,” Nichols said, according to The Argonaut, the student newspaper at UI. “I love this place, I’m familiar with it, it seemed like it would be a good fit for me.”

Nichols has president experience, albeit on a interim basis. For the 2008-09 academic year, Nichols served as the interim president at Northern State, with the understanding that she would return to SDSU after one year in Aberdeen and after NSU found a president of its own. 

The other finalists included Donald L. Birx, the chancellor at Penn State University – Erie; Jack McGillen Payne, the senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the University of Florida; James L. Applegate, a consultant for the Lumina Foundation for higher education.

Idaho has 11,408 students on its main campus and is the state’s land-grant school with 130 undergraduate degrees and 126 graduate degrees. The university had been without a president since Duane Nellis left for Texas Tech University in March for the same position.