The selection of Dr. Nellis marks the end of a lengthy and unusual search and hiring process after a search firm, which was hired by the Idaho State Board of Education, selected two candidates to visit the University of Idaho campus and meet the University of Idaho community members, students, and alumni. The SBOE offered the position to Nellis who later refuted the State Board of Education's claim that he dropped out of the process. Dr. Nellis told GoVandals.Net in an exclusive interview that he could not come to terms over salary, but that he was highly interested in the position. Negotiations resumed after key Idaho alumni organized themselves and responded with an intense and focused lobby effort to hire Dr. Nellis.
The academic, teaching, administrative, and fund raising background and experience of Dr. Duane Nellis are a very good fit for the University of Idaho. Dr. Nellis currently serves on the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges Academic Officers Executive Council where he became the National Chair-Elect for the group. He served a term as President of the Association of American Geographers. Nellis was past President of the National Council for Geographic Education and he is a former President of Gamma Theta Upsilon. He is also a member of the International Geographic Honor Society. Nellis was also the past President of the Kansas Academy of Sciences. Dr. Nellis was also one of ten members of the National Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences Research Universities Committee.
Dr. Nellis was awarded a Ph.D. in Geography, with a specialization in remote sensing and natural resource systems, from Oregon State University in 1980. After he completed his doctoral studies at Oregon State, Nellis accepted an academic appointment at Kansas State where he rose to lead the Geography Department and, later, became the Senior Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and held that position until he left for West Virginia in 1997.
During his first years at Kansas State Dr. Nellis received the Young Research Scholar Award by the Institute of British Geographers. He also received K-State's University Outstanding Teaching Award and was honored as the University Advisor of the Year.
At WVU, Nellis achieved administrative and development success when he led a fund raising drive that led to his oversight of a new $60 million new Life Sciences Building. While at West Virginia, Dr. Nellis established a new National Geospatial Development Center, a Writing Excellence Center, a Math Learning Institute, put new life in the WVU Press, and he strengthened social justice and related diversity programs across the college and university.
After seven years at West Virginia University Dr. Duane Nellis returned to Kansas State University to take the Provost's position in June 2004. Nellis was the Dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences when he left for K-State.
The research of Dr. Nellis resulted in approximately 100 articles and reports in a wide range of professional journals and 14 books. Nellis has been invited to speak at over 60 universities, including the University of Idaho. While at Kansas State University, Dr. Nellis was recognized as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Nellis has strong ties to the Pacific Northwest and to Northern Idaho. He was born in Northwestern Montana, has two sisters that live in Boise, and has a summer home in the area. When he visited the scenic Idaho campus he was not unfamiliar with the University of Idaho; he was a guest lecturer at the school about 20 years ago.
Nellis will take over the management of the University of Idaho from Steven Daley-Laursen who was named Interim President in June of 2008. Daley-Laursen replaced Dr. Timothy White when he resigned to take the President's job at the University of California at Riverside. Daley-Laursen held the interim position for approximately nine months while the school prepared for possible budget cuts. No initiatives or programs were completed during Daley-Laursen's interim term as University of Idaho President.
While economic issues are ever present, Dr. Nellis previously expressed the potential for Idaho to excel in grants, research, and fund raising. When interviewed by GoVandals.Net earlier this month, Dr. Nellis expressed his opinion about the potential for the Vandal alumni to assist in the growth and advancement of the University of Idaho.
"I just felt the passion for the university, for the Vandal Nation, and I just felt that people cared deeply about the university, and to me that meant a lot because if you don't feel that passion as a candidate it's going to be harder to do things we all need to do to advance the university."
READ MORE (link): Duane Nellis Named 17th University of Idaho President
READ MORE (link): Nellis to head University of Idaho (Statesman article)