After guiding the University of Idaho for more than a decade, former president Richard Gibb will become the part-time director of the school's Center for Economic Education.

Academic Vice President Thomas Bell on Friday said he hopes Gibb will serve in the post as long as he is interested and affiliated with the school."He has a good background in economics and a strong interest in the public schools," he said.

The center housed in the College of Business and Economics is an effort to acquaint Idaho's public schools with market economics, in concert with education and agriculture. Similar centers are operating at Boise State University and Idaho State University to serve their areas.

"We tend to take our market economy for granted, and I think that's a mistake" Gibb said.

"With the dramatic developments that have caused Eastern European nations and the Soviet Union to start the tough change from controlled to market economies, we need to spend a bit more time understanding our own system and realizing that profit is not a dirty word."

Gibb said the center will work closely with the State Council for Economic Education. Designed to be self-sufficient, it is under the immediate supervision of the head of the Department of Economics, John Miller.

"The center is our vehicle for reaching out beyond the campus, to help reduce the level of economic illiteracy in our communities," Miller said.

Gibb, who served as Idaho's president from 1977 until 1989, once was on the Idaho Council on Economic Education's board of directors. For several years, the council has wanted the university to launch its own center.

The council has an annual budget of $160,000; major banks and companies including Potlatch Corp. are its biggest private contributors.

After working full time at the university this fall, Gibb is scheduled to work 20 percent of the time this spring and a month this summer.