TWIN FALLS • University of Idaho presidential finalist James Applegate met with community members and extension faculty Wednesday in Twin Falls.
Applegate recently left his position as vice president of the Indiana-based Lumina Foundation, which works to increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality, college-level learning. He credited his five years there with helping him understand the “big picture” of education, including international experience.
Applegate said he is very passionate about education and excited for the opportunity to lead the University of Idaho.
He said land grant universities succeed when they treat the whole state as their campus. The role of the university’s extensions is to figure out the community’s needs, and the university’s role is to cater to those needs, Applegate said.
“Higher education, it’s more valuable today than it has ever been,” he said, “but we are not yet managing to get that education to those who need it.”
The University of Idaho’s enrollment dropped by nearly 5.2 percent over the past year, from 12,493 to 11,844.
Applegate said he would boost that number by tapping into various “markets,” such as community colleges, non-traditional K-12 students and maintaining students already at the university.
Asked what a successful athletic program means to him, he said it’s one that builds alumni commitment, attracts donors and students, and graduates athletes.
Asked about his background with agriculture, Applegate said he does not have deep experience but would work closely with the dean of agriculture and extension staff.
“I have to have open communication and trust with those people,” he said. “No president will have expertise in all fields.”
Chuck Staben, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of South Dakota, will meet community members at 12:30 p.m. Friday at the Stonehouse Event Center, 330 Fourth Ave. S., in Twin Falls.