Education

University of Idaho President Chuck Staben wanted this job but didn’t get it

Moscow-Pullman Daily News

University of Idaho President Chuck Staben talks about the decision to move athletics into the Big Sky Conference in a 2016 interview at the Idaho Statesman.
University of Idaho President Chuck Staben talks about the decision to move athletics into the Big Sky Conference in a 2016 interview at the Idaho Statesman. doswald@idahostatesman.com

University of Idaho President Chuck Staben will be staying in Moscow for the time being.

Staben was one of five candidates for the open president position at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, but he was passed over by the UNM board of regents in favor of Garnett Stokes, who has previously served as provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri. She is the first female president in UNM history.

Stokes’ selection followed a 10-month search by a 22-member committee, according to a news release by UNM. She accepted a five-year contract with an annual salary of $400,000.

Staben, who began his presidency at the U of I in March 2014, interviewed at UNM on Oct. 17. Staben told the Moscow-Pullman Daily News he had applied for “personal reasons” and declined to elaborate.

A former provost at the University of South Dakota, Staben took over the presidency after former President Duane Nellis accepted a job as president of Texas Tech University. Former U of I law school dean Don Burnett served briefly as interim president after Nellis departed.

More than a year after accepting the position, Staben and his wife, Mary Beth Staben, bought a second home in Boise, where she could continue her career as a physician at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center. Staben spent much of his time in Boise – four days a month on average – sometimes appealing to the Idaho Legislature for funding.

Since taking the reins, Staben has focused on increasing enrollment by 50 percent by 2025. Last year, Staben faced backlash from Vandal football fans when he announced the U of I would drop from the Football Bowl Subdivision to return to the Football Championship Subdivision and play in the Big Sky Conference in 2018.

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