Influencing politics and future generations

September 14, 2015

Dr. James B. Weatherby, a member of the class of 1966, graduated from NNU with a Bachelor of Arts in History—education that provided the foundation for a future of success and accomplishment. Weatherby went on to earn a Master of Arts in Political Science at University of Idaho (UI) and returned to NNU in 1968 to begin his career as an instructor in the political science department. Returning to UI in 1970, he earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science during which time he also was both research instructor for the department and assistant director for the Bureau of Public Affairs Research.

Deciding to take his talents back to the Treasure Valley, in 1974 he accepted the position of director of research for the Association of Idaho Cities (AIC), and beginning in 1983, he also taught as an adjunct professor of political science at Boise State University.

Weatherby spent 15 years at AIC and as executive director spent considerable effort on behalf of Idaho’s cities working to pass legislation critical to municipal success: historic city and county budgeting changes; creation of the local revenue sharing program that allocates hundreds of millions of dollars to cities and counties; and the enactment of tax increment financing, a key redevelopment tool. On leaving AIC, the “Dr. James B. Weatherby Award” was created in his honor (annually recognizing superior performance by a city official) as acknowledgment of Weatherby’s years of service for the betterment of city governance.

Weatherby accepted a position at Boise State University in 1989 as associate professor of public administration and political science and director of the Public Affairs Program. The Boise State Master of Public Administration (MPA) was awarded national specialized accreditation under his leadership. Only five other MPA programs in six neighboring states had such a distinction. In addition, he led successful efforts to create the Department of Public Policy and Administration serving as chair for eight years. Upon his retirement, university officials created a scholarship in his name recognizing his contributions to Boise State and the state of Idaho.

As his career progressed, Weatherby made time to write nearly 50 professional papers, scholarly articles and books. As coauthor of the books “The Urban West: Managing Growth and Decline,” “The Urban West Revisited” and “Governing Idaho: Politics, People and Power,” Weatherby’s research and writing focused on municipal government issues and the influence of key players in the formation of Idaho policies and politics. Used as course material for university-level classes, this work is also enjoyed by a general readership of those interested in the internal dynamics of city government and a history of Idaho politics.

NNU’s professor of political science Steve Shaw, said of Weatherby, “As an alum of NNU, Jim has always served his alma mater with distinction, and as a native Idahoan, Jim’s life and career are a testament to honor, dignity and, seriously, well-placed humor. They simply don’t come much better than Jim Weatherby. I am honored to be able to call him friend and colleague.”

Over the course of his career, Weatherby has been interviewed by most of the print and broadcast media in Idaho and by most of the major daily newspapers in the United States. This year, Weatherby was profiled in “100 Most Influential Idahoans 2015.” Author Randy Stapilus wrote of Weatherby’s contributions: “If you’re watching a public affairs show in Idaho, or reading a news article about state government and politics where an explanatory comment is needed … odds are very good you’re hearing an explanation from Jim Weatherby.”

Though supposedly retired since 2006, he continues to provide insight into the positions and decisions of state and local governments through regular appearances for over 25 years on NBC’s local affiliate KTVB, and for 11 years on Idaho Public Television’s “Idaho Reports.”

Shaw applauded Weatherby’s achievements saying, “Jim is sui generis: no one knows Idaho politics as does he. He’s a consummate professional; whether in scholarly publications, moderating political debates, offering election analysis, or commenting on state legislative sessions, Jim’s insights are always keen and even prescient at times … From his days with the Association of Idaho Cities to his time as professor of Political Science and Public Administration at Boise State University, Jim brought to public service and political analysis the intellect of a scholar and the passion of an engaged citizen.”

NNU is recognizing the distinguished career and many accomplishments of Dr. James B. Weatherby with the Alumni Professional Achievement award.