By Amanda Cairo
Building his career block by block, Chuck Staben has found his capstone as the recently named 18th president of the University of Idaho.
“I love what the University of Idaho has to offer, and I am extremely excited to serve the students, faculty, and staff and see where we can go together,” says Staben. “I love the mountains; I love the West; I feel like this is home.”
A long-time supporter of land-grant universities, Staben is especially excited to lead the University of Idaho to continue and expand its research, academic excellence and outreach throughout the state. He also is committed to growing enrollment and expanding education beyond the classroom. Staben officially becomes president March 1, 2014. Interim President Don Burnett will continue to serve the university until then and will work closely with Staben during the transition.
“I really want to focus on communication and developing a shared vision for the university. It’s going to take some time to create an effective vision, but it will be fun to see what direction we want to take together,” says Staben.
He will be joined on the Palouse by his wife Mary Beth, who looks forward to practicing medicine in the area. Their children, following in both of their parents’ footsteps, are studying across the country: Mac is working on his master’s degree in Massachusetts, Cal is working on his bachelor’s degree in Kentucky and Rae is working on her bachelor’s degree in California.
As a father of university students, Staben identifies with parents sending their children off to school for the first time. He encourages those who interact with students to treat them like they would want their own children to be treated, whether it’s tough love or being supportive.
“I want students to have a positive experience and to grow into themselves,” says Staben. “University is a time for students to mature and establish their character.”
Once settled in Idaho, Staben looks forward to pursuing outdoor recreation activities, like skiing, hiking and biking to Pullman on the Chipman Trail.
“This really is a beautiful place,” says Staben. “I want to reconnect with the wilderness in my spare time.”
Since 2008, Staben has served as the provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of South Dakota. Previously, he worked at the University of Kentucky in several capacities from 1989-2008. He served as the acting vice president for research, associate vice president for research and in faculty administrator roles, chair and acting chair in the biology department and professor, associate professor and assistant professor of biology.
Staben earned his doctorate in biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley and his undergraduate in biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Champaign. He conducted postdoctoral training at Stanford University in the biology department and at Chiron Research Laboratories in Emeryville, Calif. with the virology department. While Staben is no longer an active researcher, his work has been cited over 1,300 times.
He brings a wealth of professional memberships to the University Idaho and serves on many national boards, including the National Research Council, and the Committee to review EPSCoR and EPSCoR-like programs. He is also a peer evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission. Previously he served on the National EPSCoR/IDeA Foundation Board, as an AAAS Consultant, Delaware INBRE Program and was a representative for the Southeast University Research Association.