University of Idaho President Duane Nellis left a parting gift for Governor Otter, his State Board of Education and all those Republican legislators who have consistently underfunded higher education as well as public education during his four years at the helm of the State’s major research university.
The message was contained in one word in Nellis’ terse statement that he would be leaving to take the helm of Texas Tech University , a school three times the size of the University of Idaho. The dunderheads who robotic-like sign off on the Republican’s slow strangulation of state support for higher and public education will undoubtedly miss the word. It was too subtle for them.
Boise State University President Bob Kustra and his government affairs aide, former House Speaker Bruce Newcomb, won’t miss the word, however, since it was aimed directly at them.
So what’s the word that symbolizes the entire message of Nellis’ disgust?
As in Idaho’s “flagship” university, a modifier stripped from the University of Idaho ’s mission statement last year with malice aforethought by Bob Kustra who wanted to drive home the message that Boise State was now the true flagship university in Idaho. A gullible, naïve, asleep at the switch, compliant, lazy board of education bought Kustra’s orchestration of this symbolic demotion of the University of Idaho hook, line and sinker.
Notice how Nellis’ farewell statement (Don’t hold your breath waiting for a longer statement when it is official in three weeks) referred to Idaho ’s “flagship” research university?
Read between the lines, folks. That one word said it all. Bob Kustra will get the message that his hubris and vanity contributed to a solid if not spectacular colleague leaving the state. University of Idaho boosters, both on campus and off campus, will get it. Current University of Idaho students, paying an ever higher percentage of their college costs, will understand it.
Whether Governor Otter and his hand-picked set of pawns that has been rubber-stamping declining state support for all of public education and pretends to be a Board of Education gets it is highly debatable.
One can hardly blame Nellis for leaving and I have to doff my hat for the clever way he sent the message as to why.