Texas Tech University System regents made the selection on Friday. System Chancellor Kent Hance calls Nellis "a visionary leader with an outstanding record of accomplishment in higher education.
He would succeed Lawrence Schovanec, who served as Tech's interim president since the August resignation of Guy Bailey. State law requires 21 days to pass before final action is taken on the appointment.
In a statement, Nellis said he had believed his Idaho appointment in July 2009 would cap his career and that the Texas Tech opportunity came as a surprise. He said he takes pride in the University of Idaho's work as Idaho's flagship national research university.