Pay freeze for Idaho’s college heads

Green

MOSCOW — University of Idaho President Scott Green highlighted the university’s response to COVID-19 as well as the school’s efforts to correct a budget shortfall during the annual State of the University Address on Thursday.

“This has been a year like no other,” Green said in the recorded message, which can be watched on the UI’s YouTube channel.

Green commended the university’s actions to continue providing in-person learning during a year when COVID-19 forced other colleges to transition to distance learning.

“While many institutions of higher learning around the globe sat still, we planned,” he said. “When most universities threw up their hands, we took action to remain open.”

He said the COVID-19 testing lab set up at the UI allowed it to respond quickly to infection clusters, isolate students who were infected and protect the community.

“(Idaho) Public Health tells us not a single case was contact-traced back to one of our classrooms,” he said.

Lauren Carlsen, UI’s student government president, also spoke during the presentation and said she, too, is proud of the efforts to safely continue in-person classes.

By following testing protocols, social distancing in classrooms and wearing face coverings, students were able to “experience as normal a year as we could have,” she said.

“For me and many other students, this is exactly what we needed,” Carlsen said.

Green spoke about how the university addressed a budget shortfall through workforce reductions and implementing furloughs to meet Gov. Brad Little’s mandatory 5 percent budgetary holdback.

The president said the university was able to improve its budget quickly and it allowed the university to deal with the costs of the pandemic.

“I acknowledge that this hasn’t been easy on any of us,” he said. “I sincerely hope we never again find ourselves in a similar situation.”

During his address, Green also spoke about plans to open new facilities in Moscow and around the state.

He mentioned the UI Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, which will provide research for milk producers and companies in the region like Chobani.

The university is currently working on the design for the building in Idaho’s Magic Valley and will break ground this summer.

In Moscow, the new Seed Potato Germplasm Laboratory is under construction, as is the Idaho Central Credit Union Arena, which will be home to Vandal basketball games, concerts and other special events.

The university’s Meat Sciences Center will also break ground soon on the Moscow campus.

Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com.