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2 finalists pass on top job at UI

MOSCOW, Idaho — Kansas State provost Duane Nellis is the second finalist to withdraw his name from the search for the next University of Idaho president since the list of candidates was released in January.

Nellis was one of five finalists and one of two who were invited to visit the Moscow campus in northern Idaho last month. He announced he was dropping out of the contest in a Kansas State University statement on Thursday.

Ham Shirvani, president of Cal State University at Stanislaus, pulled his name from the race in mid-February.

Nellis did not give a reason behind his decision in his statement.

“After seriously considering the opportunity at the University of Idaho, I have decided to decline the offer of employment as president there,” Nellis said in the statement.

He did not immediately return calls to the Associated Press on Thursday.

None of the presidential finalists has been publicly offered the top job at the state’s oldest public university, said state Board of Education spokesman Mark Browning.

“No offer can be made unless it is the result of a vote in an open meeting,” Browning said.

Shirvani said he did not seek out the Idaho job, but felt he should explore the opportunity after he was approached.

In an e-mail to Cal State faculty and staff last month, he said he decided to reconsider running for the University of Idaho presidency after his school’s governing board and members of the community urged him to stay in California.

“The decision was primarily about my commitment to this institution, rather than anything wrong with the University of Idaho,” Shirvani said in a telephone interview.

The five finalists were selected by a university search committee. The finalists’ names were announced in January.

The search committee recommended two of the candidates, Nellis and Montana State University provost David Dooley, visit the main campus in northern Idaho for interviews.

Now three finalists remain, including Dooley; Don Burnett, dean of the University of Idaho Law School; and Larry Penley, former president of Colorado State University.

The search for a new University of Idaho leader began last year after Tim White resigned to take a job at the University of California-Riverside. The Education Board picked dean Steven Daley-Laursen to serve as temporary president.

The university has gone through five leaders, both temporary and permanent presidents, in the past six years.

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