President M. Duane Nellis Biography
M. Duane Nellis began serving as the University of Idaho’s 17th president on July 1, 2009. He will depart in June to become the president of Texas Tech University. The University of Idaho named Donald L. Burnett, Jr. as the interim president pending the selection of a permanent president.
As president, he’s been instrumental in producing record student enrollments, gaining national recognition of the university research mission with dramatic funding increases, and an extension of university programs to benefit the people of the state educationally and economically. Independent studies now show the university boosts Idaho’s economy by more than $1 billion each year. This is in part because of the Vision 2020 goals set by President Nellis that seeks to provide a sustainable economic base for the university that includes 16,000 students and $150 million in research funding by 2020.
Nellis also led a major capital campaign, “Inspiring Futures”, oversaw over $80 million in campus facility improvements, created the President’s Diversity Council, enhanced what became a nationally award-winning engagement effort through creation of the Office for Community Partnerships, improved major inter-disciplinary initiatives, and significantly improved business partnerships between the university and business and commodity groups in Idaho and throughout the Northwest.
As the chief executive officer of Idaho’s nationally recognized research and land-grant university, he is responsible for nearly 14,000 employees and students as well as a budget in excess of $453 million. That responsibility extends to 42 statewide extension offices and nearly 28 other research and educational facilities across the state including campus locations in Boise, Coeur d’Alene, and Idaho Falls. This includes general education as well as programs funded separately from the University of Idaho to include the Agricultural Research and Extension Service, the Forest Utilization Research program, the Idaho Geological Survey, the Washington-Idaho Veterinary Program and the multi-state WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) Medical Education program.
Nellis is also nationally recognized and active. He serves as a commissioner for the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities – one of the eight nationally recognized bodies that determine whether higher education institutions are accredited. The governor also appointed him as a commissioner of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education that coordinates higher education efforts for 15 western states. President Nellis has held other leadership positions and continues to be active in other national and international bodies, including the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities; the Association of American Geographers; the National Council for Geographic Education; and Gamma Theta Upsilon, the international geographic honor society.
He is recognized nationally and internationally for his research that utilizes satellite data and geographic information systems to analyze various dimensions of the earth’s land surface. This research has been funded by more than 50 sources such as NASA, the National Geographic Society, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His research has led to more than 100 articles and reports in a wide range of professional journals, and 17 books and book chapters. He has given more than 100 professional presentations and has been invited to speak at more than 60 universities and related settings internationally.
He also has been recognized nationally and internationally for his research and teaching through numerous awards from organizations such as the Association of American Geographers (AAG), AAG’s John Fraser Hart Award for Excellence in Research, the Outstanding Contributions Award by the AAG’s Remote Sensing Specialty Group, the Young Research Scholar Award by the Institute of British Geographers, the Kansas State University Outstanding Teaching Award and University Adviser of the Year Award, as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and as a Distinguished Alumni Fellow Award recipient from Oregon State University.
Nellis is a native of the Northwest: he was born in Spokane, Washington. He met and married his wife, Ruthie, while pursuing his bachelor’s degree in earth sciences/geography at Montana State University. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees in geography from Oregon State University.