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U of I names new president

Chuck Staben

Chuck Staben

A provost from the University of South Dakota has been tapped to become the University of Idaho’s new president.

The Idaho State Board of Education announced Nov. 18 that Chuck Staben, provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of South Dakota, was chosen out of the five finalists contending for the job.

Staben will take over for Don Burnett, the dean of UI’s College of Law, in March under a three-year contract paying $350,000 a year. Burnett took on the role of interim president after UI’s previous president, Duane Nellis, left to become president of Texas Tech.

Idaho Ed Board President Don Soltman said Staben rose to the top of a field of highly qualified candidates. Staben, a biochemist, earned his doctorate at the University of California and served as acting vice president at the University of Kentucky before he was hired at the University of South Dakota.

The University of Idaho has struggled with a higher-than-normal turnover rate in the president’s post in recent years. Nellis served at the school for just four years, and his predecessor, Tim White, also served about four years.

“Land grant universities, including the University of Idaho, improve lives and strengthen our society,” said Staben in a prepared statement. “Leading this University is a privilege that I value deeply.”

The university’s 125th anniversary – and the conclusion of its current capital campaign – will be marked after Staben starts his new job in March. A biography released by the Idaho Board of Education lauds Staben’s work at USD, crediting him with helping to guide the university through a state funding decline and noting that the school has increased enrollment, research grants, retention and graduation rates since 2008.

Staben’s wife, Mary Beth Staben, practices internal medicine as a hospitalist in Lexington, Kentucky, according to the biography.

“We are very pleased to welcome Chuck and Mary Beth Staben to the University of Idaho and to our great state,” Soltman said in a prepared statement. “The Board is looking forward to working with Chuck to ensure that the University of Idaho continues its long tradition of excellence.”


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