Archive for Friday, October 19, 2007

New Haskell leader has changes in store

October 19, 2007


Haskell welcomes new leader

Six months after arriving on campus, Linda Warner, a member of the Comanchee Nation, was inaugurated as Haskell Indian Nations University's fifth president. Enlarge video

Haskell Indian Nations University inaugurates Linda Warner as its fifth president during a ceremony on October 19, 2007. Warner says she has big ideas for the university.

Haskell Indian Nations University inaugurates Linda Warner as its fifth president during a ceremony on October 19, 2007. Warner says she has big ideas for the university.

Haskell Indian Nations University's new president has big ideas for the university.

Just six months after arriving on campus, Linda Warner has completed a thorough evaluation of Haskell to determine its strengths and weaknesses.

Based on her findings, she is ready to make changes - something not taken lightly at a 123-year-old school where tradition runs deep. She said the university had become "old hat" about how it accomplished things.

"I think people thought it would be business as usual, and I think it is business as unusual," she said, laughing.

Warner, 59, a Comanche, was inaugurated Friday as the fifth president at Haskell since it became a college in 1970. About 600 people attended the ceremony, which included a formal presentation of Haskell's flag and the presidential medallion.

Ernie Stevens Jr., master of ceremonies and this year's Outstanding Alumnus, said Haskell can only benefit from Warner's leadership.

"Her integrity, her background and her resume speak for her," he said. "She's really created change that ushers us into this university era, and we've only just begun. You haven't seen anything yet as to what's to come at Haskell Indian Nations University."

Changes in store

Warner, who previously was associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at the Tennessee Board of Regents, already has made changes. Those include creating the Research, Evaluation and Dissemination (RED) Center, which will provide research support, and Healthier Haskell, a community program that promotes healthy lifestyles. She has made changes in food services such as taking regular soda off the menus, putting labels on food items and extending hours to help athletes.

The new Jim Thorpe Fitness Center opens today. She has hired a new full-time faculty member and implemented a new WinterCount reception to honor employees.

While she has made these changes and more, she has proposed a plethora of others. They range from adding a fifth baccalaureate degree in public health to increasing student fees to beefing up security to starting online programs.

"Not everybody is going to like all of the changes, and I am not surprised by that," she said.

Good reviews

But Xavier Barraza, Student Senate president and a member of the Board of Regents, said he is pleased with the changes so far.

"She is looking out for the university," he said. "For somebody who is as educated and strong as she is means a lot to Indian Nations. It's an honor to have her here."

The same sentiments are felt by Valerie Switzler, a senior from Warm Springs, Ore.

"She sets her standards high and compares us to universities like Kansas University. I like that," she said.

Margaret Stevens, a senior from Oneida, Wis., and daughter of Ernie Stevens Jr., said she was pleased with Warner's progress.

"We are like a big growing family and there's confrontation even in families," she said. "It's unavoidable if you want progress."

To move forward financially, Warner would like to tap into the resources of its alumni.

"Our tagline is the most recognizable name in Indian Country," she said. "Everywhere I go, I can stand up and say 'Haskell' and play seven degrees of separation."

Financing is a concern for Haskell administrators because its lifeline is federal funding. Haskell's budget has been about $9.1 million for the past three years, and it expects to receive about $600,000 more this year, an increase of about 5.5 percent. Warner said while funding is always an issue, how the university spends money is more important. She took more than 3,000 pictures of campus and uncovered hidden treasures.

"You would be amazed at the stuff that we have that we don't know we have," she said. "Some of that needs to be sorted out, so we are not buying things we already have. It's just a stewardship issue."

And as any new leader, she has heard criticism.

"I have noticed that people around here - those of them that are not quite as fond of me as my family - say I am running people off when in fact people are retiring. I think it is incredibly disrespectful to characterize their choice - a life's work - as getting run off."

And while there has been speculation that Warner might not be at Haskell for long, she said that's not true.

"I've got a lot of things that I want to accomplish here," she said.


sharron5rs 10 years, 6 months ago

I think Linda Warner is what Haskell needs, and has needed for a long time.

I have lived in this area for all but 1 yeat of my life, and I know nothing about Haskell.

I have heard things about the Pow-wow that was usualy held in the fall, or is it spring?

I know it is where LHS and FS play threr football games.

I know I missed being able to go there by my mother being the last one in the blood line. :(

I look forward to seeing the good things that can be brought to Haskell, and Lawrence.

Please, let the outside areas know about your rich and great history.

Hokti 10 years, 6 months ago

Bless Dr. Warner for taking on this difficult task. Many of the changes she is implementing are wonderful. However, being a former alumni and current a Ph.D doctoral candidate, I must admit that if I would have had to pay the fees she is incorporating-I would never be where I am today. I realize Haskell is at the mercy of federal funding. However, this inaguration was quite expensive, yet another set of gym equpiment is expensive, etc. What about the kids on reservations who will never receive an education because they are too poverty stricken to pay these fees? Many fine students will be left withought any choice. College is expensive and Haskell students are very lucky. However, my relatives were forcibly removed, starved, killed and culturally decimated for the rights I was guarateed to attend Haskell. There should be other options.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 6 months ago

Dr. Warner=a great person a great choice for Haskell, and she is very good with students.

Looking forward to her leadership's results. hope some means to relieve the fees is found.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 6 months ago

She sounds like she has the guts to make things happen. I live near the school, and in the last few years there have been some students out of control and no discipline. It's been much better since she arrived. There has also been no effort to raise money, either by lobbying the government or raising money from the alumni. Part of a president's job is to go out and raise money. A solution for students who can't pay the higher fees, would be finding them alumni sponsers. The fees are still cheaper than most universities. Another problem she should address is building Haskell team spirit. So far the changes seem to be good. Some people don't like change, but if you don't change you die. I wouldn't want Haskell to die. It's such an asset to our community.

Stephen Prue 10 years, 6 months ago

I wish her great success and long may Haskell prosper!

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 10 years, 6 months ago

"She said the university had become "old hat" about how it accomplished things."

Hmm... time for a new headdress?

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