MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — The new president of the University of Idaho called public universities "keys to U.S. prosperity" as he was inaugurated Friday as the school's 18th president.
Chuck Staben told the hundreds who gathered for the Kibbie Dome ceremony that within a decade, he anticipates a student body 50 percent larger than the current one, and representing all of Idaho.
Staben also told his audience he hopes to see more first-generation college graduates from all over the state, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported. His other goals include increasing research.
Staben took over his new job March 1, succeeding Duane Nellis, who left last year for the presidency of Texas Tech University.
Constant striving can propel the university forward, Staben said. "We could be better than we ever could have imagined," he said.
Staben said the growth he envisions will require a team effort involving students, faculty, staff, researchers, government officials and community members across Idaho, the Lewiston Tribune reported.
And the effort won't be painless. Limited funding poses a challenge. It can also be frustrating to promote and encourage higher education in Idaho because it has a small population that doesn't historically attend college, he said.
However, Staben said he thinks the school will reach many of its goals by staying true to its land-grant mission. That includes focusing on research that will benefit Idaho — like wheat breeding — and initiatives that work toward solving national and global issues.
Friday's event included comments from Gov. Butch Otter and Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert, both of whom expressed confidence in Staben's leadership skills.