The Idaho State Board of Education announced April 18 that it had narrowed its search for Boise State's next president to five finalists.
A search committee chose these five from a field of nine semifinalists, narrowed from 53 candidates who applied for the position. The incoming president will replace Bob Kustra, who announced his plans to retire in November after 15 years at the university's helm. Kustra will leave the position June 30.
In a press release, the board said the finalists will begin to visit BSU's campus between April 23 and April 30. (Find a schedule of their Boise visits at the end of this story.)
"Open forums are planned for students, faculty and staff as well as a public receptions for community members to meet and hear from the finalists," according to the release.
James Lentini, 60, a Detroit native, is the senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.
Area of study: Music. Bachelor’s degree in music from Wayne State, a master's degree from Michigan State University, and a doctorate in musical arts from the University of Southern California.
Past experience: Dean of the College of Creative Arts at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio. There he made his mark by fostering interdepartmental collaborations and raising the visibility of the school through invited performances, which included a featured performance at Carnegie Hall. He served as the first dean of the School of Art, Media, and Music at The College of New Jersey from 2003-2007. He also served on the music faculty and in administration at at Wayne State University from 1988-2003, where he created the Music Technology degree program.
Fun fact: Lentini is an award-winning composer and classical guitarist.
Kevin Reynolds, 55, a native of Oxford, England, is the vice president for finance and administration at Portland State University.
Area of study: Chemistry. Reynolds holds a bachelor’s degree (1984) and Ph.D. (1987) in chemistry from the University of Southampton, England. He did his postdoctoral research at Ohio State University and the University of Washington.
Past experience: Reynolds served as a chemistry professor and chemistry department chairman, the interim dean of the School of Extended Studies and vice provost for Budget Planning and Internationalization in the Office of Academic Affairs. He also taught chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University (1997-2005) and the University of Maryland (1989-1997).
Fun fact: As a scientist, Reynolds works in the area of microbiology and genetics. He holds three patents and is working toward a cure for malaria.
Jack Thomas, 57, is the president of Western Illinois University in Macomb and its urban campuses in Quad Cities/Moline.
Area of study: Literature and education. Thomas earned his bachelor's in English from Alabama A&M University, a master's of English Education from Virginia State University, and a Ph.D. in English Literature and Criticism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Past experience: Thomas also served as provost and academic vice president at WIU. Under his guidance, the university established new degree programs in nursing, engineering, museum studies, anthropology and religious studies. He also served in that position at Middle Tennessee State University.
Fun facts: Thomas researches how black men are represented in literature. His latest book is “Within These Gates: Academic Work, Academic Leadership, University Life and the Presidency.”
Robbyn Wacker, 61, is the senior campaign adviser for development and alumni relations at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
Area of study: Wacker received a bachelor's and a master’s degree in gerontology from the University of Northern Colorado, and her Ph.D. in sociology from Iowa State University.
Past experience: Wacker started her academic career at UNC in 1990 as an assistant professor of gerontology, working her way up through the ranks to become the dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences in 2003. She became the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs in 2012 and recently transitioned to her position in 2017.
Fun fact: Wacker is a nationally known lecturer and the co-author of “Community Resources for Older Adults,” which is now in its fifth edition.
Daniel Weeks, 61, is the president and vice-chancellor of University of Northern British Columbia, in Prince George, B.C.
Area of study: Psychology. Weeks has a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Windsor, and a masters in kinesiology from McMaster University, both in Ontario, Canada. His Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Auburn University.
Past experience: Weeks was the vice president, research, at the University of Lethbridge, in Alberta, Canada, and was a professor of psychology chairman of that department at Simon Fraser University, in British Columbia. He also held several other positions there. He took the leadership role at NBC in 2014.
Fun fact: Weeks is also an accomplished musician and an avid sailor.
The public can also offer feedback on the candidates online. To find schedules for the open forums, as well as biographies for each candidate, click here.
Finalists' visit schedule
Each candidate will meet with faculty and staff from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. , and students from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Simplot Ballroom inside the Student Union Building, 1910 University Drive, and with the community from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Alumni and Friends Center, 1173 W University Drive.
- Kevin Reynolds, Monday, April 23
- Robbyn Wacker, Tuesday, April 24
- Jack Thomas, Thursday, April 26
- Daniel Weeks, Friday, April 27
- James Lentini, Monday, April 30