TWIN FALLS • The last of the five finalists competing to be the next president of the University of Idaho met with community members and extension faculty Wednesday in Twin Falls.
Laurie Stenberg -Nichols, provost and vice president for academic affairs at South Dakota State University, made a brief statement before fielding questions from an audience of about 20 people.
In 2008, Stenberg-Nichols served for nearly a year as interim president at Northern State University in South Dakota.
“That was really great experience and what Ifound was that I really liked it,” she said.
Stenberg-Nichols said she believes she can contribute the most to a land grand university such as the University of Idaho.
Stenberg-Nichols was an associate professor in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Idaho in 1994 and served as an assistant professor from 1988 to 1994.
“A lot has changed in 20 years. There’s a few things that were not so positive such as budgets, cutbacks — but I think a good leader could take care of them,” she said. “Every state needs a strong land grant university.”
One aspect Stenberg-Nichols said she would like to grow, if selected, is online education and conducting a market analysis of what people in Idaho want. Stenberg-Nichols shared how SDSU currently has 20 degree programs that are completely online, and many are master’s programs.
“We have students in every state but one,”she said.
But she stressed that face to face education is always key with online serving as an enhancement.
“We still need those great teachers,” Stenberg-Nichols said.
And while traditional students are still “the bread and butter,” she said universities need to start looking at new emerging markets, such as online professional master’s degrees.
“What are the professional developments you need in the state?” she said.
Another market Stenberg-Nichols mentioned was international students and creating English as a second language (ESL) programs that could get students prepared to enroll in degree programs.
“We just need to be more entrepreneurial in what we do with higher education. What can we do that we haven’t done in the past?” Stenberg-Nichols said.
The State Board of Education hopes to announce the new University of Idaho President in November.