U of I alumnus named new university president

A University of Idaho alumnus will take the reins as university president on July 1.

C. Scott Green

On Thursday morning, the State Board of Education named C. Scott Green as the U of I’s 19th president.

“My history with the University of Idaho is deep. I care about this place, its students, its faculty and staff and its alumni,” Green said in a news release Thursday. “Together, we will work toward its strategic goals, creating a stronger, more competitive institution.”

Green, a fourth-generation Idahoan, graduated from the U of I in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Green, who received an MBA from Harvard University in 1989, comes back to the Moscow campus from Hogan Lovells, an international law firm. Based in New York, Green was the firm’s global chief operating and financial officer, and had authority for more than 3,000 employees in more than 30 countries.

During a brief teleconference Thursday, State Board President Linda Clark touted Green’s background.

“I’m enthusiastic,” Clark said. “I think he brings a unique set of skills that will meet the (U of I’s) needs.”

“Mr. Green is a Vandal to the core,” State Board member and U of I president screening committee chairwoman Emma Atchley said in a news release. “He’s a proven leader and manager and is highly respected in business circles worldwide.”

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Minutes after the State Board made its announcement, Green spoke at a reception at the U of I campus. After a standing ovation, Green joined students and staff in a chorus of the university’s fight song, then talked about his roots to his alma mater.

Green’s grandfather, then the university’s athletic director, put Green to work folding towels in the university’s Memorial Gymnasium. As an undergrad, he served as student body president. He later served on the U of I Foundation’s board of directors.

“It is truly a special place for all of us,” Green said.

During a wide-ranging news conference, Green addressed topics from finances to student scholarships, from the U of I’s relationship with the Legislature to athletics. (On that final front, Green was cautious. He said the U of I could consider moving back to the highest level of NCAA college football, but first must make its case by competing in the Big Sky Conference.)

Green said his top priority is seeing the state improve its 44.6 percent college go-on rate — whether that means students attend the U of I or another institution. The U of I’s enrollment dropped this year by 2.6 percent, and that tells Green the university needs to improve its outreach.

“For us, it’s about getting our story told,” he said. “We need to advocate for the university and what’s available for our kids here.”

Green pledged to work closely with the state’s other institutions, and downplayed competition between the U of I and Boise State University. “I don’t think that tension has to exist, at least not on the basketball court.”

And Green addressed another sensitive topic: turnover at the top at the U of I. He said he’s aware of the issue, from his time on the foundation’s board of directors. And he pledged to stay in Moscow for as long as he can do the job — and for as long as the State Board wants him around.

“This is my last stop,” he said.

Thursday’s news ends a six-month job search, and Green was selected from a field of more than 50 applicants.

But the search came to a quick conclusion Thursday morning, with a three-minute State Board meeting. With no debate, the board voted 6-0 to hire Green, at an annual salary of $420,000.

Two board members missed the brief meeting and the vote. David Hill was at the State Board office, leading a Workforce Development Council discussion. State superintendent Sherri Ybarra was also absent. She was attending a funeral, spokeswoman Kris Rodine said.

Green’s hire comes nearly 11 months after the State Board decided to change course at the U of I.

In May, the board announced what it described as a mutual agreement, saying Chuck Staben would step down as president at the end of the 2018-19 academic year. The reasons for the move were never fully explained.

Staben’s contract as president ends on June 15. He will remain on the campus as a biology professor, beginning in January 2020.

The State Board still has one high-profile hire on its docket. The board will meet April 23, and is expected to name a new president at Boise State.

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