Ex-CSU President Penley still in the running to lead U of Idaho

Disgraced former Colorado State University President and Chancellor Larry Penley is now among three finalists seeking to become the next president of the University of Idaho, according to the blog 43rdStateBlues.com.

Penley beat feet out of CSU in November after The Colorado Independent raised serious questions about his budget priorities and the land-grant university’s ability to fulfill its core mission to offer an affordable education to the state’s working class families.

The three-part investigative series focused on the probity of Penley’s tenure that shifted millions of dollars in state funds away from the academic colleges and library system, while beefing up the school’s athletics department and nearly tripling the budget of his own Office of the President. Shocked legislators and faculty members questioned Penley’s budget swap-outs, which caused student fees to increase by a whopping 71 percent and undergraduate tuition by 52 percent since 2003.

Penley tendered his resignation from the university Nov. 5, the same day the campus newspaper, the Rocky Mountain Collegian, revealed John Lincoln, a top CSU executive and close associate of Penley’s from their days together at Arizona State University, received a $10,000 per month sweetheart consulting deal. In October, Lincoln retired from the president’s office with a $70,000 golden parachute and a plum gig to–ironically–strengthen the university’s public affairs and communications outreach.

Citing an Associated Press story, blogger 123Idaho at 43rdStateBlues.com writes today that Idaho’s leading candidate, Kansas State University provost Duane Nellis, rejected the search committee’s salary offer, which is rumored to be in the neighborhood of $300,000 per year and the Idaho State Board of Education refused Nellis’ undisclosed counter proposal.

Which makes the possibility of Penley taking the position all the more intriguing. A Chronicle of Higher Education compensation survey pegged then-CSU President Penley’s base pay at $389,000 — substantially higher than what is likely to be offered by Idaho.

Penley is now pitted against University of Idaho law school dean Don Burnett and Montana State University Provost David Dooley, who was invited to the Moscow, Idaho, campus for an interview last month.

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Wendy Norris

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