The University of Idaho's homecoming weekend began Friday with news that President Chuck Staben is one of five finalists for the same position at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
Staben was selected as UI president in 2013 and took the reins at UI in March 2014. He succeeded Duane Nellis, who left for Texas Tech University after about four years of leading UI. Timothy White served about four years as UI president before Nellis.
Staben stated at the time of his hire that he intended to stay longer, referring to putting down roots in Moscow. A UI spokesperson said he was not available to beinterviewed Friday, but shared a memo sent to faculty and staff.
"His decision to apply for the position is very personal and not due to any shortcomings at the University of Idaho," the memo states. "President Staben is invested in UI's success and will continue to serve here until such time as he may choose to accept another position."
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The position in Albuquerque would mean leading a university with enrollment of more than 26,000, compared to UI's enrollment of less than 12,000. A salary range wasnot advertised, according to UNM spokeswoman Cinnamon Blair.
Staben, 59, currently has an annual salary of $385,230 at UI. Former University of New Mexico President Bob Frank's salary was $362,136.
Frank resigned last year after a management report was leaked to the Albuquerque Journal in which his leadership style was described as too "bullying." Frank currently is an administrator at the university's Health Sciences Center, according to Blair.
Provost Chaouki Abdallah has served as acting, then interim, president at UNM since January.
Staben is set to be interviewed on the UNM campus Oct. 17. The school's board of regents is expected to make a decision about the position by early November. A start date for the chosen finalist will be negotiated at that time, according to Blair.
Staben, who previously served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of South Dakota, focused on enrollment when he arrived at UI. Numbers had been dropping, and continued to drop, reversing course only last year when the university reported a single-year increase for the first time since 2012.
Total fall enrollment was listed at 11,780 for 2016. Current fall enrollment numbers for Idaho universities will not be released until later this month.