Consulting firm hired to lead search for Idaho president

The State Board of Education has hired a national headhunting firm to lead the presidential search at the University of Idaho.

Storbeck Pimentel and Associates will be paid $78,400 plus expenses to do the months-long job, State Board spokesman Mike Keckler said Thursday.

Back in May, the State Board and outgoing University of Idaho President Chuck Staben announced they mutually agreed that the 2018-19 school year would be his last.

Storbeck Pimentel and Associates will work with a search committee headed up by State Board member Emma Atchley. State Board member Don Soltman will also serve on the committee, which will vet candidates.

Emma Atchley

“I appreciate the Board’s confidence in allowing me to help lead this search for the University of Idaho’s 19th president,” Atchley said in a written statement. “I look forward to assembling the members of the screening committee and working with them to develop a transparent process that will include input from Vandal students, faculty, staff and alumni.”

What we know about the search

The State Board of Education did not vote in an open meeting to hire Storbeck Pimentel and enter into a contractual agreement. Instead, an RFP committee comprising State Board President Linda Clark, State Board members Debbie Critchfield and David Hill, State Board Executive Director Matt Freeman, University of Idaho Vice President for Research Janet Nelson and University of Idaho senior director of operations for the college of natural resources Steven Hacker made the decision to name Storbeck Pimentel on Aug. 21, according to Keckler.

The entire State Board was not required to approve the contract during an open meeting because the value of the contract did not exceed $1 million, Keckler said.

University of Idaho contracts and purchasing director Julia McIlroy then issued a request for proposals from firms interested in completing the presidential search.

What we don’t know

According to Keckler, eight different search firms responded to the request for proposals and the RFP committee based its decision to hire Storbeck Pimentel on the proposals and interviews, not the low bid.

Idaho Education News made a public records request for the proposals and it was denied by Keckler. He said the State Board does not have them. He referred EdNews to McIlvoy at University of Idaho. EdNews is awaiting a reply from McIlvoy to a new public records request for the proposals.

Didn’t the State Board just hire a search firm?

If this sounds familiar, there is a good reason.

The state searched for four presidents in two years and a fifth search is on the horizon.

Earlier this year, the State Board worked with AGB Search to hire new presidents of Idaho State University and Lewis-Clark State College. The State Board also hired AGB Search to find Boise State University’s next president. That search failed after the State Board voted May 16 to dissolve AGB’s search and not offer the Boise State job to any of the announced finalists.

The state paid AGB more than $101,000 for the failed Boise State search through June 1, and the total value of the contract and expenses was estimated to reach $130,000. The State Board did not receive a refund.

What happens next?

Now that the contract with Storbeck Pimentel is drawn up, the University of Idaho search will begin in earnest, Keckler said. The State Board plans to name a new president early next year and have a new leader in place by July 1, 2019.

The State Board is also expected to launch a new Boise State president’s search and may look to hire a new national search firm for that job as well.

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