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Editorial: NIC trustees pick best of good bunch

| June 24, 2022 1:00 AM

He’s an Idahoan headed home.

He served his country in the U.S. Army. He worked his way up the academic ladder to Ph.D. Similarly, he advanced in his career to become executive director of an organization that managed a partnership between eight universities in Virginia. Can you imagine the wealth of best (and worst) higher ed practices he’s learned from in that time?

Nick Swayne sounds like a private eye, but he’s the freshly named president of North Idaho College. Though all the finalists appeared qualified, a little investigation suggests the college’s trustees have chosen wisely.

From Devin Weeks’ reporting of Swayne’s earlier interview with trustees:

…Wold asked Swayne his ideas for retaining staff and faculty at NIC.

Swayne said, people don’t leave because of money, primarily — they leave because they don’t like working there anymore. He said staff and faculty need to be supported, and their stories and successes need to be shared.

“That goes a long way,” Swayne said. “When’s the last time you saw the board talking about the successes of the faculty, staff and students at North Idaho College?”

He said he watched the NIC board meeting that took place the day of graduation.

“The whole board meeting ended, and the acting president said, ‘Wait a minute, we had graduation today,'" he said. "That, to me, is telling that students and faculty and staff are not first on the agenda. To me, that should have been the opening report: Here’s what we did today at graduation. Telling that good story.”

And when asked a loaded question about “privacy-invading mandates,” Swayne answered:

"My preference always is to inform people, communicate and give them the opportunity to do the right thing.”

Now, anybody can say just about anything. Walking the walk can be a whole different deal.

Further, until a contract is actually agreed upon and signed, the naming of Swayne as NIC’s 11th president is a required procedural step but not a done deal. A full-out celebration today would be premature.

But the entire team — consultant Pauly Group, the community-based Presidential Search Committee, and finally, trustees David Wold, John Goedde and Pete Broschet — appears to have found a leader who can stand strong against the turbulent political forces attempting to blow down North Idaho College.

Let’s get a contract signed, party hearty and then get to work. A college's life could be at stake.

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