Duane Nellis

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M. Duane Nellis
Nellis Wiki.jpg
Nellis in 2012
16th President of
Texas Tech University
In office
June 13, 2013 – Present
Preceded by Guy Bailey
Personal details
Born (1954-07-26) July 26, 1954 (age 60)[1]
Spokane, Washington
Spouse(s) Ruthie Nellis
Children 2 sons: Jonathan, Jason
Residence Lubbock, Texas
Alma mater Montana State University,
B.S. 1976
Oregon State University,
M.S. 1977, Ph.D. 1980
Profession Higher Education Administrator and Geographer
Website ttu.edu/administration

M. Duane Nellis (born July 26, 1954) is an American educator, currently the 16th president of Texas Tech University. He was previously president of the University of Idaho,[2] and provost and senior vice president at Kansas State University, and professor of geography.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Spokane, Washington to Marvin and Sophie Nellis, Nellis spent his youth in northwest Montana in Libby, where his father worked in the forest industry for Champion International and his mother was a nurse. Nellis graduated from Libby High School in 1972,[3] and attended Montana State University in Bozeman. He earned a bachelor's degree in earth sciences/geography in 1976 and attended graduate school at Oregon State University in Corvallis, earning a master's in geography in 1977 and a Ph.D. in geography in 1980.[4][5] Nellis wrote his doctoral dissertation on remote sensing in water resource management.[6]

Academic career[edit]

After graduate school, Nellis has worked for over 30 years as a professor of geography, and in various progressive administrative roles at Kansas State University, West Virginia University, University of Idaho,[7] and Texas Tech University.[8] At Kansas State University, Nellis was a department head, Associate Dean, and after returning from West Virginia University (where he served as dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences), served as provost and Senior Vice President from 2004 until his departure for the university presidency at the University of Idaho in 2009. He became president of Texas Tech University in June 2013. His research has focused on geographic information systems and remote sensing, and he is internationally recognized for his work in this area.[8]

University of Idaho[edit]

Though named a finalist for the presidency of the University of Idaho in 2009, Nellis, then provost at Kansas State, initially withdrew his candidacy for the position.[9] Following negotiations with the Idaho State Board of Education, he was named to the presidency the following month.[10] Nellis succeeded Timothy P. White, who had been named chancellor of University of California, Riverside.

While at Idaho, Nellis led a major $225 million capital campaign,[11] oversaw over $80 million in campus facility improvements, created the President’s Diversity Council, enhanced what became a nationally award winning engagement effort through creation of the Office for Community Partnerships, improved major inter-disciplinary initiatives, and significantly improved business partnerships between the university and business and commodity groups in Idaho and throughout the northwest.[12]

While president at the University of Idaho, Nellis was a member of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee.[13]

As a nationally recognized higher education leader, Nellis has served as a commissioner for the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities (one of 8 nationally recognized accreditation bodies).[14] He also served as a Governor-appointed commissioner of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, which coordinates higher education efforts for the 15 western states, and has been involved in various national committees for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU).[15]

Nellis was succeeded by Don Burnett, dean of the University of Idaho College of Law, on an interim basis.[16] Chuck Staben, provost at the University of South Dakota, was named as Nellis' permanent replacement at the University of Idaho, effective in March 2014.[17]

Texas Tech[edit]

Nellis was announced as the sole finalist for the presidency of Texas Tech University on March 1, 2013.[18] According to news reports, he was recruited for the position, and had not applied.[19] On March 22, the Texas Tech Board of Regents unanimously confirmed him as the university's next president, starting June 15.[20]

Since his arrival, Nellis has promoted moving Texas Tech University forward toward higher levels of national prominence as a major public research university. He has advocated for continued enrollment growth (including stronger advocacy for national and international student recognition), accelerated research expenditures and faculty recognitions, creating a more engaged institution while promoting industry and community partnerships, with a commitment toward global connections and creativity while seeking external revenue sources to invest in the university enterprise.[21]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Leadership Award, Dialogue Institute
  • Alumni Award of Excellence, University of Idaho
  • Honorary Alumni Award, University of Idaho
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Fellow, Explorers Club, New York City
  • Distinguished Mentor Award, National Council for Geographic Education
  • Fellow, Royal Geographic Society
  • Young Research Scholar Award, Institute of British Geographers
  • Distinguished Alumni Fellow, Oregon State University
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University
  • Outstanding Teaching Award, Kansas State University
  • University Advisor of the Year Award, Kansas State University
  • Gilbert Grosvenor Geographic Education National Honors, Association of American Geographers
  • John Fraser Hart Award for Excellence in Research, Association of American Geographers
  • Outstanding Contributions Award in Remote Sensing, Association of American Geographers
  • Phi Bet Kappa, Golden Key, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, Gamma Theta Upsilon
  • President (2002-2003), Association of American Geographers
  • President (1994), National Council for Geographic Education
  • President, (1999-2000) Gamma Theta Upsilon (International Geographic Honor Society)

Personal life[edit]

Nellis met his wife Ruthie as an undergraduate at Montana State. She was from Pennsylvania[22] and became a librarian. As a librarian, she oversaw a science library at Kansas State, and the medical school library at West Virginia University. She also worked in K-State's commercialization initiative, and was project manager on several major library building projects at West Virginia University. Married in 1975, the couple has two sons, Jonathan and Jason.[8]


  1. ^ "Kansas St. provost becomes UI president". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. April 22, 2009. Retrieved December 18, 2013. 
  2. ^ Prentice, George (20 July 2011). "M. Duane Nellis: Not many people know what the M. stands for". Boise Weekly. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Gerstenecker, Alan Lewis (April 9, 2013). "LHS grad to lead Texas Tech". The Western News (Libby, MT). Retrieved December 18, 2013. 
  4. ^ https://www.ttu.edu/administration/president/biography.php
  5. ^ May, Cheryl (February 20, 2004). "M. Duane Nellis returns to Kansas State as Provost". Science Blog. Kansas State University. Retrieved December 18, 2013. 
  6. ^ Nellis, Martin Duane (1980). Water management in the North Deschutes unit irrigation district: geographic perspectives and remote sensing applications (Ph.D.). Oregon State University. OCLC 9186062. 
  7. ^ "Duane Nellis - Department of Geography, University of Idaho". University of Idaho. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c "Texas Tech University :: Office of the President". Texas Tech University. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "K-State provost says no to Idaho". The Topeka Capital-Journal. 12 March 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  10. ^ "Nellis is new UI president". KLEW-TV. 22 April 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  11. ^ "Inspiring Futures: Invest in the University of Idaho". University of Idaho. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  12. ^ Report to the Board of Regents, April 2013 (unpublished).
  13. ^ Staples, Andy (8 March 2012). "Idaho president Duane Nellis on college football playoff". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  14. ^ "Commissioners". NWCCU. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  15. ^ "New Commissioners". WICHE. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  16. ^ "Burnett named interim UI president". Lewiston Tribune. 27 March 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  17. ^ "Staben Ready to Lead Idaho". University of Idaho. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  18. ^ Hoover, Brittany (1 March 2013). "Duane Nellis named sole finalist for Texas Tech presidency". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  19. ^ Macz, Brandon (2 March 2013). "Nellis moseying to Texas Tech". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  20. ^ Hoover, Brittany (22 March 2013). "M. Duane Nellis officially named next Texas Tech president". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  21. ^ "Inauguration Celebrates President Nellis, Texas Tech Future". Texas Tech Today. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  22. ^ Ursch, Blake (July 20, 2013). "Nellis settles in to life at Tech". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved December 18, 2013. 

External links[edit]