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Nellis Reaffirms Expectation of Principled Behavior

Fall Address Covers Topics from Personal Safety to Strategic Investment in Education

University President M. Duane Nellis said Wednesday that the institution will not tolerate inappropriate relationships or other behavior from individuals that “threatens our students or other members of our community. I can assure you that I will not tolerate it.”

His remarks came during his fall address at the general faculty meeting, held in Moscow and streamed live to the institution’s statewide locations.

“Join me in reaffirming that we not only expect principled behavior from ourselves -- we expect it from other members of our community,” Nellis says. “We will not tolerate abuses of position.”

Nellis also asked members of the University’s Faculty Senate to work swiftly to review the institution’s current policies on relationships and ensure that “it is the strongest it can be.” His request came after last month’s tragic death of graduate student Katy Benoit.

During his address, Nellis also looked ahead to the institution’s future, reaffirmed the importance of the institution owning its own destiny, and encouraged the University to move forward with an entrepreneurial spirit to serve the state of Idaho.

“The University of Idaho’s strategic investment in the education of Idaho’s residents is vital to the state’s success,” Nellis says. “Working together with an entrepreneurial mindset, we’ll make a positive impact on the state.”

Nellis says the theme for the year is that of the “entrepreneurial university.” He defined entrepreneurial as being more innovative and creative, while enhancing the university’s quality, diversity, and net revenue.

Among the steps to achieve those goals, the institution will:
Continue stabilization of the university’s budget dynamics to enable institutional investment in strategic initiatives;
• Enhance research opportunities, partnerships and competitive funding;
• Implement the strategic plan and corresponding unit plans;
• Expand private gifts and corporate support; and
• Align strategic research areas with related scholarship, research infrastructure, academic programs and new research and outreach entities, including centers and institutes.

The University has been successful in dealing with several years of economic downturn and Nellis believes that conservative state budgeting has paid off. But he vowed to continue fighting for state funds for the benefit of faculty and staff, calling an increase in the state’s CEC, or change in employee compensation, his “number one priority.”

He says he believes the University is turning a corner. This fall, 46 new faculty joined the academic ranks of Idaho’s land-grant university, which has 70 locations statewide. In addition, the university welcomed more than 3,500 new freshmen, transfer, graduate, law and Wyoming, Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho medical education program students.

A shift in the University’s focus to emphasize in-state scholarships led to a six percent rise in in-state enrollment; Idaho students accounted for nearly 75 percent of new freshmen. Overall, roughly 18 percent of freshmen self-identified as diverse. Nellis also says that net revenue generated by the University’s freshman class is greater than it was a year ago.

He sees the University’s future getting increasingly brighter as it aims to own its own destiny. It must look for more opportunities for increasing research and creative activities; enrollment; interdisciplinary work; private and corporate support; and partnerships with stakeholders and industry.

The University plans to publicly launch its capital campaign in April. The campaign supports scholarship, research, buildings, and compensation programs and Nellis said the effort is critical to “success for our University’s dynamic future.” The institution’s overall endowment is nearly $190 million, with a 20.7 percent rate of return.

Nellis says the University has continued to grow in reputation and impact. It pumps nearly $1 billion into Idaho’s economy each year, is helping 60 communities in Idaho improve their quality of life and the local economies, and its work reaches and impacts communities around the globe.

He says the University also is addressing the need for education in the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. He said that more than 50 percent of all STEM degrees granted in the state of Idaho come from U-Idaho.

The University of Idaho is the first choice in student success and statewide leadership because its community is passionate about education, research, and engagement aimed at making a positive difference, Nellis said. “We’re poised for an exciting future” and growth is part of our service to Idaho.

What we offer is an unmatched educational experience for those students who want to succeed and lead, Nellis said.

Later in the faculty meeting, Nellis conferred upon three professors the rank of University Distinguished Professor. The new rank recognizes “sustained excellence, as judged by peers, in scholarly, creative, and artistic achievement; breadth and depth of teaching in their discipline; and university service as well as service involving the application of scholarship, creative, or artistic activities that address the needs of one or more external publics.”

The inaugural distinguished professors are:
• Dan Bukvich, professor of music in the Lionel Hampton School of Music in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, joined the university in 1977 and has been internationally recognized as a composer in a variety of musical genres.
• Mike Scott, professor of fish and wildlife resources in the College of Natural Resources, joined the University of Idaho in 1986. He developed the method of gap analysis for conservation planning, a method that is now a globally recognized conservation management tool. An active researcher.
• Jean’ne Shreeve, professor of chemistry in the College of Science, has produced numerous developments through her research, including the new syntheses of fluoronitrogen compounds.