University of Idaho President Duane Nellis told JFAC this morning that his top priority is to boost faculty pay to avoid losing top professors to competing universities.However, Gov. Butch Otter hasn’t recommended any funding for that effort next year. UI’s faculty pay is less than 90 percent of what peer institutions pay, Nellis said, and UI has to compete with them.
Top faculty are being recruited by other colleges, Nellis warned lawmakers this morning. “Some of these faculty are very marketable with their expertise, and universities know about them and want to recruit them,” he said. “So that’s our No. 1 priority this year.” In the past two years, Nellis said, the UI lost its top wheat breeder to Oregon, and a top professor of the philosophy of science to Michigan State. “We made a counter offer to try to keep both of those people,” Nellis said after addressing lawmakers, but the UI didn’t have the resources to match those other state universities’ offers.
Nellis said he was disappointed that Otter didn’t recommend that or the university’s request to add a second-year law program in Boise next year. “I made that pitch to him directly,” he said.
Nellis was upbeat about his reception this morning in JFAC, in which half the members are on the budget-writing panel for the first time. “I think they understand how important our role is, as a research engine in our state,” he said. This photo is of the displays that are filling the fourth-floor rotunda this morning, highlighting UI programs; before this morning's budget hearing, the fourth floor was shoulder-to-shoulder with lawmakers, UI students and officials and others perusing the exhibits.