Scott Green Returns to His Alma Mater as U of I’s 19th President
In 2018, Scott Green '84 was the chief operating officer at global law leader Hogan Lovells when the third-generation Vandal saw an opportunity. His U of I accounting degree had taken him a long way from the hardwood courts of Memorial Gym he'd grown up playing on in Moscow.
After three post-graduation years with Boise Cascade, Green had headed east for a Master of Business Administration from Harvard and a 30-year ascension in the banking and legal sectors.
But an opening for U of I’s presidency caught his attention. Green had volunteered with the U of I Foundation, Alumni Association and College of Business and Economics Advisory boards over the years. He contributed to scholarship funds. He came back for football games and maintained a family cabin near Harrison. He was passionate about seeing his alma mater succeed.
As he weighed applying for the top spot, a conversation with mentor and friend Bill Lee — a one-time colleague from law firm WilmerHale and a senior fellow of Harvard’s governing board — put the options in perspective.
“His response was, ‘Scott, do you want to go and turn around another law firm and help lawyers make more money,’” Green said. “‘Or would you rather look back 10 years from now and have helped educate 100,000 kids?’”
The answer was obvious for the future 19th president of the University of Idaho.
“How do you respond to that?” he said. “I hung up the phone and was all in, whether I got the job or not.”
He did, setting the stage for an emotional return to the Gem State. To guide his administrative efforts, Green established working groups to discuss issues and offer recommendations. He also laid out three critical priorities for the year ahead.
Supporting Student Success
Green envisions a comprehensive effort to support the student experience at every stage, from enrollment to graduation and careers.
“The experience will be very different for each student,” Green said. “But what we can do is create the conditions for a positive experience. We can lower the barriers to entry. We can create a safe and collaborative campus environment, so students can learn from some of the best in the country. We can ensure students graduate on time, with little or no debt as they begin their careers.”
Affordability is an important factor.
As a sophomore, Green himself faced financial challenges, nearly dropping out before finding a combination of scholarships, work opportunities and support from his Kappa Sigma fraternity network.
“You have to make it financially possible to succeed,” Green said. “That can make the difference between a student elevating themselves and going to college, and staying in college, or just going right into the workforce.”
Ensuring Research Excellence
Green has toured the state to gain firsthand insight into the impact of the university’s $112 million research enterprise. He’s traipsed forested northern Idaho with faculty, industry and agency experts. He’s visited research facilities in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, Boise, Hagerman, Sun Valley and more to learn about research programs in everything from water to grazing to fish genetics to cybersecurity.
He’s also continuing to build relationships with industry, meeting with leadership from Idaho National Laboratory, Chobani, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, the Idaho Dairymen’s Association and others as U of I collaborates on basic and applied research, as well as workforce development.
“At the end of the day our research will improve living conditions in the state of Idaho and for the nation as a whole,” Green said. “And I can’t tell you how many employers I’ve talked to who say they want more Vandals. When our students hit the field, they know what they’re doing.”
I get a lot of energy from our alumni. The fact that they’re so fired up makes me fired up, and it powers me to keep moving on and push our university ahead. U of I has a very, very bright future.
Championing Our University
Green has come a long way from the battered Dodge Omni he drove leaving Idaho for the East Coast. He’s personally leasing a “Vandalized” Ford pickup truck as he travels the state — a symbolic choice designed to send a brave and bold message.
“I want people to know when the president is in town,” he said. “I want them to know that we’re there to support their communities.”
Green’s touring has provided the chance to meet all stakeholders in the Vandal Family. His goal is to listen and learn, but also to extol the positives at the university. He also emphasizes collaboration with the Idaho State Board of Education.
Green is especially grateful for the warm welcome he’s received from the alumni community in events ranging from rafting on the Salmon River to meeting a new alumni chapter in New York City.
“I get a lot of energy from our alumni,” he said. “The fact that they’re so fired up makes me fired up, and it powers me to keep moving on and push our university ahead. U of I has a very, very bright future.”
Article by Brian Keenan, University Communications and Marketing.
Published in the Fall 2019 issue of Here We Have Idaho.