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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: Duane Nellis

Five finalists named for president at University of Idaho

Five finalists have been named for president of the University of Idaho, hailing from Kentucky, South Dakota, Florida and Pennsylvania. “The search committee was impressed by the number of outstanding applicants for the position,” said state Board of Education member Emma Atchley, who is chairing the search committee. “We are looking forward to having the final five candidates visit Idaho and tour University of Idaho sites across the state.”

Former UI President Duane Nellis left this year to become president of Texas Tech University, which is more than double the size of UI. Law school Dean Don Burnett is now serving as interim president, but said he didn’t plan to seek the permanent position. The five finalists named today are consultant James Applegate, formerly with the University of Kentucky and the Lumina Foundation; Donald Birx, chancellor and professor at Penn State Erie; Laurie Stenberg-Nichols, provost and vice president for academic affairs at South Dakota State University; Jack Payne, senior vice president, agriculture and natural resources, University of Florida; and Chuck Staben, provost and vice president for academic affairs, University of South Dakota. You can read the state board’s full announcement here.

Idaho scrimps on state employee pay

As University of Idaho President Duane Nellis leaves Idaho this week to become president of Texas Tech, his parting advice to the state was to invest in its workers by funding raises for state employees. That’s something Idaho Gov. Butch Otter declared a priority early in his first term, noting the gap between state worker pay and market rates. But since the downturn hit, Idaho hasn't funded state employee raises in four of the last five years. Now the state is relying on agencies to find budget savings in order to give some workers pay boosts.

Agencies have been directed to use any savings they can identify in their budgets for either one-time bonuses, if the savings are one-time, or for ongoing raises, if they’re efficiencies that will continue. “They’re going through that process,” Otter said. “In fact, I’ve OK’d quite a few of those agency directors’ programs.” Under plans approved by the governor’s Division of Financial Management, $5 million in raises and $4 million in one-time bonuses are going out either this year or in the coming fiscal year, which starts July 1; a few agencies still are working on their plans. But workers in agencies that don’t have savings are out of luck.

Just 23 percent of state workers have gotten raises averaging $1,500 under the plans, and 30 percent have gotten bonuses averaging $900. “Every agency is different,” said Jani Revier, Otter’s budget director. “It was done on the amount each agency could afford.” You can read my full story here at

By the way, Nellis earned $335,000 as president of the University of Idaho. At Texas Tech, his base salary will be $427,000, plus a $12,000-a-year car allowance, a $60,000-a-year housing allowance and a deferred compensation package.

Nellis’ parting message to Idaho lawmakers: Fund CEC

Duane Nellis, the outgoing president of the University of Idaho, penned a guest opinion saying goodbye and offering Idaho policy makers his final bit of advice: Fund CEC. That’s the acronym for Change in Employee Compensation, the mechanism by which traditionally, each year, the governor and lawmakers decided how much to increase pay for state employees, from university professors to agency secretaries, maintenance workers to customer-service folks. But in the last five years, that system has broken down.

This year, for the upcoming fiscal year 2014, the governor recommended, and the Legislature approved, zero funding for CEC. That’s the same funding allocated for fiscal years 2010, 2011 and 2012. For the current fiscal year, 2013, a 2 percent CEC was funded for all state employees meeting performance standards; normally, CEC is parceled out on a merit basis, not across the board.

Nellis, who leaves the University of Idaho in a week to become president of Texas Tech University, had high praise for the quality of the faculty and staff at the U of I. “If I could give one final piece of advice to my friends in the state Legislature, it would be to invest in these people,” he wrote. “I would hope that your highest priority next year is CEC – Change in Employee Compensation. CEC affects our teachers, police, firefighters, librarians and thousands of other Idahoans who work hard to make our state and our communities better. It is critical for a state like Idaho to invest in its people, in the expertise it has, and not let them slip away to other states that pay a bit more.”

For a 20-year history of CEC in Idaho, click here.

UI President Nellis tabbed for president at Texas Tech

University of Idaho President Duane Nellis has been named the sole finalist to become president at Texas Tech University, signaling he'll be leaving the U of I after four years. Nellis called the Texas post a “unique and exciting opportunity.” Click below for the full announcement from the U of I; and a full report from the Associated Press.

Uh, so who asked him to?

Here’s why Gov. Butch Otter issued the press release saying he “won’t intervene” in the BSU-UI football rivalry spat: He was asked about it after his speech to the Boise chamber today by Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey. “The governor told him, he said, ‘Personally, my personal view is I’d like to see that rivalry and that game continue, but Dan, honestly, I’ve got to see what authority I have in order to do that,” said Otter’s press secretary, Jon Hanian. “He said, ‘I need to find that out and let you know.’” Then, Hanian said, “It didn’t take long to determine.”

Said Hanian, “We have not gotten any request from the university. … We were just responding to a question.”

Guv ‘won’t intervene’ in UI-BSU football spat

Gov. Butch Otter just issued this press release:                                                        


(BOISE) – Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter issued the following statement today about the controversy surrounding continuation of the football series between the University of Idaho and Boise State University after the 2010 season: “As a football fan and an Idahoan, I’d like to see the series continue. As Governor, I have no authority, no role and no interest in micromanaging our universities’ football programs. That’s why we hire university presidents, athletic directors and coaches. I have every confidence that they’ll work things out.”

This after a big clash over BSU President Bob Kustra’s comment to the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board yesterday that he didn’t care if the BSU Broncos never played the UI Vandals again, given Vandal fans’ trashing of BSU’s academic programs. “I frankly don’t care whether we ever play ‘em again,” Kustra told the newspaper. “It’s a culture that is nasty, inebriated and civilly doesn’t give our fans the respect that any fan should expect when visiting an away team.” UI President Duane Nellis then responded in a statement that he was “disappointed” at Kustra’s remarks, and that “in-state rivalries are meant to be fun.” By last night, Kustra had issued a statement saying his comments were “harsher than I intended” and that he plans to leave football scheduling decisions to athletic officials. Click below to read the full statements from both Nellis and Kustra.

Parma center closing delayed

Gov. Butch Otter and University of Idaho President M. Duane Nellis have jointly announced an indefinite delay in the proposed closure of the Parma Research and Extension Center, a closure that drew an outcry of protest from fruit growers and others in the area. “Given the current budget situation, and my newness to the university, the governor and I agreed on the need to take additional time to conduct a more thorough review of the Research and Extension centers statewide,” Nellis said, during a joint announcement with Otter at the center in Parma. Click below to read the full announcement from the university.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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