A loosely organized group of University of Idaho alumni and supporters has launched a petition drive to persuade the Idaho Board of Education not to renew University of Idaho President Elisabeth Zinser’s contract.
The group’s petitions charge that Zinser has repeatedly demonstrated to the school’s faculty, alumni and supporters that she has few communication skills and has lost their confidence.
They cite her handling of athletic, academic and fund-raising issues in general and the turf war about whether Boise State University or Idaho should run the Boise engineering program in particular.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to seek this petition,” said Boise lawyer Mack Redford, who serves on the University of Idaho Foundation’s board of directors. “We had hoped Dr. Zinser would voluntarily step down on her own. In our estimation, she has lost the confidence of the constituents.”
Redford said a core group of 50 to 100 people launched the petition drive a few days ago. He said he believes many members of the university’s Vandal Boosters, Alumni Association and Foundation support the petition drive, although the three organizations are not participating.
“The national board is not involved in this in any way,” said Greg Kimberling of Moscow, president of the Vandal Boosters.
Zinser, who has been at the University of Idaho helm for nearly six years, declined comment.
But Pat Duffy, a former president of the UI Alumni Association and retired Boeing official, said the petition drive is unnecessarily divisive.
“I know a lot of alumni that would refuse to sign such a thing and I am one of them. I would never be a party to such a public activity.”
Redford said the group circulating petitions hopes to get enough signatures to give to the education board either next month or in May, before Zinser’s performance is reviewed.
Board President Roy Mosman of Moscow said he has advised a board member for the Vandal Boosters that simply stating a lot of people are disenchanted with Zinser does not prove anything.