Former University of Idaho president and candidate for UND president Chuck Staben on Wednesday met with UND faculty for the first time.
During the hour-long meeting, Staben answered prepared questions and took questions from the audience. The faculty senate has prepared the same four questions for all six candidates.
This is not the first time Staben has interviewed for a job at UND. In 2007, Staben was a finalist for the vice president of research at the university. He ultimately did not take the position, noting there were several external factors surrounding that decision, including family and career decisions he needed to make.
Staben ultimately went on to become provost at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, S.D., where he remained for five years before becoming president at the University of Idaho.
Staben said he was impressed with UND at that time, even when the campus was slightly smaller in the research aspect. Much has changed on campus in those 12 years, both leadership-wise and physically. Staben said he has also changed.
“I think I matured,” Staben said, noting that when he was younger he sometimes believed he was the “smartest person in the room.”
Since then, Staben said he’s learned the importance of listening and understanding multiple people’s perspectives on a topic at hand.
One faculty member asked Staben about his relationship with the towns in which he has worked, and also about ways to strengthen a town-gown relationship.
Staben pointed to his time at the University of Idaho when the town and the university had to work to raise funds to pay for a new runway at the airport in Moscow, Idaho. The university used the airport often and the town was in danger of losing the airport if a new runway was not built. The project was going to cost about $110 million, according to Staben, with most of that money coming from federal funding. However, the university was still tasked with raising an additional $10 million.
Staben said the project was completed earlier this year, meaning the town of about 25,000 will keep its airport.
Speaking to the media Wednesday afternoon, Staben said he feels his background as provost at USD and as president at UI have prepared him for the position of president. He also has experience as a vice president of research.
“I’m passionate about higher education especially,” he said, speaking about why he wants to be president of the university. “UND is a very strong university; I see tremendous potential and opportunity here. I think (UND) is well-positioned for future success so that’s an exciting opportunity.”
After five years, Staben and Idaho’s Board of Education last year decided to mutually part ways. Staben finished his time as president of the University of Idaho in June. Staben said there were many factors that led to that decision.
“When I was hoping to actually spend more time in Idaho, as president, we had a little bit of a misunderstanding on the contract with respect to a long-term renewal and they actually encouraged me to seek other opportunities at the University of New Mexico,” he said. “I did not get that position and I think that really harmed my relationship with the board. A number of other decisions led to some additional friction and we basically made the mutual decision not to renew (the contract.)”
The Herald reached out to Idaho's Board of Education late Wednesday afternoon for additional comment on the matter. Messages were not returned prior to this edition being published.
Staben will meet with staff, students and community members on Thursday. The third candidate for president, David Rosowsky, will also be on campus Thursday. Their Thursday schedules are listed below.
Staff forum: 9 to 10:15 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, Room 7, Education Building
Student forum: noon – 1:15 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, 114 Witmer Hall
Campus and community forum: 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, Discovery Room, EERC. A meet-and-greet social will follow.
Faculty forum: 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, Gorecki Alumni Center