Haskell president, students start talks

Sponsoring the first of what she hopes will be monthly “dialogues” between students, faculty and staff, Haskell Indian Nations University President Karen Swisher on Thursday promised to improve communication, seek funding sources and become more inclusive in her decision-making.

“All of us, I believe, want to make Haskell the most desirable place for American Indian students to come for higher education,” said Swisher, addressing an informal gathering of about 50 students and faculty in Navarre Hall.

Swisher proposed the get-together last week after rumors that Haskell would close.

Though unfounded, Swisher said, the rumors underscored the need for better communication about the university’s finances and vision.

Most of the two-hour meeting was spent explaining Haskell’s near-total dependence upon federal funding.

Swisher assured the group she was actively looking for ways to develop alternate sources of funding, but, she said, few foundations or tribes are willing to finance the university’s ongoing costs.

Swisher said she and others would present proposals to the university’s board of regents during the Oct. 17-18 meeting.