Archive for Monday, December 14, 2009

Haskell president’s return delayed; Warner assigned to Bureau of Indian Education office in Oklahoma City

The president of Haskell Indian Nations University will spend the spring semester working in Oklahoma City for the Bureau of Indian Education. She will retain her title as president while away.

December 14, 2009, 4:03 p.m. Updated December 15, 2009, 9:38 a.m.


The president of Haskell Indian Nations University will be away from campus for at least another four months, reassigned to another out-of-state job.

Linda Warner’s reassignment comes as at least two former colleagues continue efforts to support her initiatives, and a United States senator seeks answers about the university’s current leadership — both in Lawrence and in Washington, D.C.

Russell Blackbird, who retired last week as Haskell’s dean of education and vice president for professional schools, said the school had canceled an upcoming visit from an accreditation team — a team being brought in to review plans for adding four-year degree programs in liberal arts and community health.

Warner had pushed for the additions for two years, before the Bureau of Indian Education in Washington detailed her in September to Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in New Mexico to help with that school’s accreditation process. On Monday, the bureau confirmed that Warner soon would transfer to the bureau’s regional office in Oklahoma City to work with tribal community colleges.

The shift comes as Warner’s own accreditation efforts in Lawrence are being undone, said Ted Wright, who spent a year as Haskell’s vice president for university services.

He’s contacted lawmakers in Washington, seeking an investigation into management practices at both the bureau and, specifically, at Haskell.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., is among those looking for answers.

“I am concerned with reports in the media and from constituents regarding leadership problems at Haskell Indian Nations University,” Roberts said. “I question the logic of assigning a Haskell president to an office in Oklahoma when her duty is to the students and faculty in Lawrence. Currently, students have a limited number of accredited bachelor’s degree programs and there are reports accreditation visits have recently been canceled.

“We must work to ensure Haskell students are getting the quality education they deserve. The Bureau of Indian Education has some serious questions to answer.”

Blackbird, who retired in 2005 as principal at Lawrence’s South Junior High School, said the Haskell community deserves answers.

“One of the many reasons I resigned is because I feel there is some lack of support and unprofessionalism,” Blackbird said.

Nedra Darling, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs — the office that oversees the bureau — confirmed Warner would start her new duties in Oklahoma on Jan. 4.

Darling also said she was unaware of concerns raised by Wright or questions posed by Roberts.

In Lawrence, Haskell officials continue to work under the leadership of acting President Chris Redman, an education specialist with the bureau and who is based out of Oklahoma City. He was not at Haskell on Monday, as he was headed to Washington, D.C., to meet with other bureau officials.

“There’s a big meeting that’s looking at budget issues right now,” said Dan Wildcat, Haskell’s acting vice president for academic affairs.

Wildcat said that he, too, was unaware of calls for an investigation into the leadership of Haskell.

“We’re just getting ready to wrap up this semester,” he said.

Haskell has 191 faculty and staff, and 1,053 students enrolled from 40 states. The school provides tuition-free education to American Indians and Alaska natives.

The university is the lone four-year college operated by the federal government for American Indians and Alaska natives. It offers four bachelor’s degree programs: American Indian studies, business, elementary education and environmental science.


Keith 8 years, 5 months ago

Oh come on, quit playing around. She's not coming back, was never coming back. Everything else is just window dressing.

KU_cynic 8 years, 5 months ago

Yes, she is never coming back. In the meanwhile, Haskell deserves a full-time permanent leader. This neither-here-nor-there dithering can't be good for anybody.

sypeccary 8 years, 5 months ago

rainydaze49, you are right. Not a bad thing for her. At all.

BASSBOY402 8 years, 5 months ago

She's not coming back, and that's not necessarily a bad thing for us students!!

haskellyte 8 years, 5 months ago

So it's not necessarily a bad thing that Dr. Warner isn't coming back? It will be interesting to look back several years from now and judge whether her short tenure at Haskell was good or bad for the students. At this point, making that judgement on the basis of the few facts available, it could only be bad.

The numerous students who would have benefited from the new baccalaureate degree programs that are now years delayed if not dead - the work of the RED Center now dying - the end of summer school - the movement toward holding faculty accountable and making employees work full-time for their relatively high salaries and full government benefits - the progress toward improvements in academics, housing, student services, facilities - well, the list could go on.

It's not hard to see why some faculty and staff didn't like Warner. She made them do their jobs and work for a living. She held them accountable. She wasn't the congenial hand-holder favored by people who don't want to be led; people who would rather do the easy thing than the hard thing. The reason some students don't like Dr. Warner is because she wasn't afraid of them and she dared to suggest raising fees to 1/20 of what the average college student pays - never mind that the increase would have paid to cover the chronically underfunded institution's costs for technology - computers and infrastructure that could have almost propelled Haskell into the 21st century.

You've heard the expression, "You get what you pay for." Well Haskell students, faculty, staff - you really do... You've paid for what you've gotten in the currency of the Haskell realm - complacency. You didn't stand up for yourselves or for Dr. Warner when you could have. You aren't standing up for yourselves or for her now. So you will get what you deserve. Haskell will be closed or severely diminished in a few years and you can look back with regret, maybe even shame. Don't blame Warner. Don't blame the U.S. government. Step in the front of the mirror at that point and take a good look.

Sure you're better off without her. Keep telling yourself that as things continue to worsen this year and the next. Alternatively, you could call out the individuals responsible for this rebellion against their imagined injustice. You know who they are even as they convince you of their righteous rightnous. You could even call someone in BIE, DOI or Congress.

It may be too late, but at least you would have tried.

doubledogleg 8 years, 5 months ago

they need to send Dan Wildcat somewhere, it sounds like he's a major part of the problem.

larryville49 8 years, 5 months ago

President Warner always made summer school happen, because she cared about student progress. That's gone. She made Fulbrights happen. She was getting new BA and BS degrees. She had graduate degrees in sight. That's gone. By their works ye shall know them. Look at what is happening now.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

I'm curious why all those programs won't be pursued just because Warner may be gone. I suspect that tight budgets will kill those progress, not the lack of one individual person on campus.

screen_name 8 years, 5 months ago

Any program and initiative that Dr. Warner supported or set in motion is being systematically killed by the current "leadership", simply because it was affiliated with Dr. Warner. Budgets are just convenient excuses at this point.

haskellyte 8 years, 5 months ago

Summer school was paid for from a bequest to the University, a bequest that still has most of its funding available. The new classes would pay for themselves as students pre-enrolled. One of the gifts of Dr. Warner was getting these kinds of things planned and instituted. This has nothing to do with budgetary contraints. And if it does, wouldn't you agree that the "current leadership" then has it's priorities all wrong? It should be students first. And new academic opportunities are at the core of what students need.

It's not the budget, it's the new leadership. By the way, who can name the new leadership? Just curious...

Rainydaze49 8 years, 5 months ago

I agree with just_another_bozo (story of my life...) LOL

I'd like to see some people get to know our treaties, start pressuring to government about it and remind them that education is supposed to be FREE for Native Americans. I dont want to hear about what other people are paying, that shouldn't matter. We shouldnt see fees IN THE FIRST PLACE.

bluerain 8 years, 5 months ago

Well, Dr. Warner may or may not return. Both Haskellyte and just_another_bozo make some good points. However, reading this article definiately left me queasy. It sounds as if Dr. Warner has been ousted out by disgruntled Haskell faculty who cleverly manipulate the students to speak out against Dr. Warner as a way to accomplish their goal. LOL, and they are perceived as mentors for Native students and community/Haskell leaders. It is almost a repeat of what happened to former President Gipp.

A new game with some of the same players who are fighting over a scarce resource. The resource being "employment." I wonder why these so called "educated Natives" are not employed within their own tribal communities. Hmmmmm, I wonder how they plan to celebrate the New Year with their win.

littlebird 8 years, 5 months ago

What tight budget? You do know Haskell is a part of the Federal Government don't you? According to my friend they received a budget increase and 3.9% pay increase last year and are scheduled to receive a 2% increase this year. Compare and contrast that with the University of Kansas budget.

So anyone who says the programs are being canceled due to budget constraints is lying.

haskellfriend 8 years, 5 months ago

I think it is important for everyone from the outside to see what Haskell is REALLY like and what the "President" has done. She is a backstabber and a liar. Her actions are illegal and she does not comply with federal laws and regulations. Look at who she has brought into some of these positions! What a joke and insult to all true Native people. Haskell is a wonderful university for Native students and has great potential and opportunites. It's sad to see that she has single-handedly put Haskell back into the dark ages. I hope where ever she goes she will not be able to cause the damage that she has done to Haskell.

sypeccary 8 years, 5 months ago

Haskellfriend you epitomize the problem that is Haskell. "Backstabber." "Liar." "does not comply." "Look who she has brought." "True Native people." "Dark Ages." wth? You learned all that in AIS, didn't you?

haskellfriend 8 years, 5 months ago

As a matter of fact sypeccary there is nothing to "learn" just plain common sense and anybody that has been on Haskell campus can see the obvious.

sypeccary 8 years, 5 months ago

You're looking through some weird glasses.

sypeccary 8 years, 5 months ago

ok. Let's go with that. Tell me all the details that I am missing.

ivalueamerica 8 years, 5 months ago

i was very excited when Dr. Warner took over, I expected great changes and new life.

She is a great visionairy and a remarkable woman.

However, she is a failed leader.

She does not understand that her job included understanding who your customers are, how to involve them and get them on board. She alienated almost everyone NOT because of her changes, though not all of them were well-thought, but because she ran over people, did not care who she hurt and was unable to gain support and buy-in...all important parts of leaving a school.

It will take years to recover from the wounds she inflicted.

littlebird 8 years, 5 months ago

My analysis is that Haskell is a failed institution. What is its mission, Educating Native American students? Well you have a 25% graduation rate and based on conversations on the blog and personal conversations, even that number is suspect.

It seems like she did understand who her customers were. The customers are the students and she proposed changes to improve the opportunities available to them.

Haskell seems to be much like a General Motors where not much work is required, people get paid a lot and don't seem to have a problem with producing a low quality product. That ride only lasts for so long and when it ends, it usually ends badly.

screen_name 8 years, 5 months ago

Haskellfriend speaks like an AIS drone and therefore only sees what her great, educated, and ethical mentors brainwash her/him to see. And I think that "sense" and AIS should never be used in the same sentence.

luckycharmz 8 years, 5 months ago

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., is among those looking for answers? Why can't a senator's office get answers??? The B.I.E. has a lot to answer for concerning Haskell and their treatment of Dr.Warner. Haskell employees if you don't like your boss time to look for a new job, because you are destroying the place. It's a school but you use it for your own needs. It's been a university since when 1997? And in all that time it only has 4 BA programs put into place. That should have sent red flags to someone along time ago. The Haskell employees union destroyed the place and everyone just stood there and watched it happened. Just like letting Dan Wildcat cancel those two new BA programs. Would they have cost Haskell more the people were already in place to start those programs and what about summer school? Dr.Warner was running that out of a 1.7 million dollar bequest MADE TO THE HASKELL & SIPI then Stephanie Birdwell comes along and orders it not to be used for summer school anymore. WHY NOT ? You can't have a university without a summer school and the money is there so what is Stephanie planning to use it for? My guess is without Dr.Warner Haskell won't last another year.

haskellfriend 8 years, 5 months ago

An AIS drone? Considering that I have never taken AIS at Haskell I find that hard to believe. How sad it is though that all the problems at Haskell are put upon the students instead of the Haskell leadership. Since you make AIS sound sooo interesting it will be the first class I will take.

ivalueamerica 8 years, 5 months ago


Compare the Haskell graduation and post study employment rate with American Indian attendance at any other university in the nation and you will find that Haskell's numbers, though no where near where they should be, are by far better than American Indian graduation and employment rates at any other institute.

And compared to where it was 10 years ago, it has improved.

And finally, consider that the population that attends Haskell are actually more at-risk (low income and troubled homes) due to the costs involved and scholarships available, 25% is pretty good.

Hardly failed.

screen_name 8 years, 5 months ago

Haskell's problems are, as different ones have stated previously, brought on by disgruntled employees who don't want to be accountable And they in turn twist things around, send out 8-page emails to campus with their propoganda (what Haskell employee, IF they're doing their job, has TIME to WRITE an 8-page email full of half-truths and paranoid accusations?) and get students involved to carry-out their agendas (note: the majority of sign-carriers during this past spring's picket were students and Haskell Foundation employees, when it was supposed to be a federal union employment picket). That is unethical no matter how you look at it, So by pointing that out, its not putting it on the students, its putting it on the "instructors", and now the current "leadership" at Haskell (some of whom were walking the picket line in May also).

haskellfriend 8 years, 5 months ago

Some insider you must be to know about 8 page e-mails. Well as previously mentioned about the students not standing up for Haskell, it sounds like they did stand up for what they wanted and isn't that what Haskell is for...the students. Not power-housing authority figures in the guise of "leadership".

drillsgt 8 years, 5 months ago

well just remember the "students" who helped the union picket were AIS students in need of extra credit for class....students given grades they didn't earn...hmmmm

haskellfriend 8 years, 5 months ago

Haskell is a university for Native people of every age and tribal background. It is irrelevent whether or not they are AIS students. What Haskell needs is NEW leadership that will take them into the new age and progress with the rest of the country. Coming from a reservation I am glad that students are able to learn to stand up againt oppression and know what their rights are! We have been pushed to the side for too long and the younger generations that are educated are the ones who will drive change upon the way our people have come to know. At least the students are intelligent and in touch with the true Native values and recognize discriminatory values of power, disrespect, and dishonesty. Well the students truely know the ARCH values.

luckycharmz 8 years, 5 months ago

Haskell has new leadership and it's Dr.Warner. If any employees are unhappy with that they may leave.

littlebird 8 years, 5 months ago


You are absolutely incorrect. Let's pick an institution, say...KU. To be fair, let's make sure the cohorts are the same, students entering in 2002. KU's graduation rate for Native Americans is 62.9%. So with my first selection for a comparison, I have already proven you wrong.

And from looking at other institutions graduation rates I failed to find one institution that had a lower rate than Haskell. My search was not all inclusive however.

To say, "And compared to where it was 10 years ago, it has improved," doesn't say much. From talking to their Insitutional Research office, it seems this is the first time they could actually report a graduation rate. It seems previously no one was keeping track. That doesn't strike you as unusual?

Your comment about "at-risk (low income and troubled homes)" students being happy that they have a 25% graduation rate is insulting to Native Americans. Especially in light of the fact that they could be attending a University less than a mile away, with a graduation rate twice as high.

It seems to me that people continuously make excuses for the poor performance of Haskell. The other thing that struck me about the situation out there, is that the current President of Haskell, Dr. Warner, didn't. Nowhere do I see here saying that Haskell students weren't capable, etc. Instead, my observation is that she believes they are capable. What other reason would she have for adding degrees, asking for more academic rigor from the faculty, and implementing the Healthier Haskell program. And it is my understanding she brought in Fulbright scholars to provide language instruction in Russian, and other languages. That doesn't sound like someone who was going to settle for a 25% graduation rate.

snacks4me 8 years, 5 months ago

Which brings another question to many of the Native students and staff. WHY in the world would we want to introduce foreign languages such as Russian, Celtic, etc..when our very own NATIVE languages are dying? I know that each tribe is trying very hard to keep their individual langues alive and I think that there are enough people in the Haskell/Lawrence community that can obtain certification through their tribes to "teach" the languages to our students. I am not saying that the other foreign languages are no longer needed. We just need someone to take a close look at the possibility of acquiring native language instructors. Wouldn't that be a part of the RED center? As for Dr. Warner believing the students capable...yes. But I have to agree with ivalueamerica in that she had great vision...just a failed leader!

haskellyte 8 years, 5 months ago

Think about that statement, that she was "a failed leader." Is it possible she succeeded at leading those who were open to being led, who didn't start out believing she was the wrong person for the job and then vehemently opposed everything she tried to do? Is it possible she only failed to lead the vocal minority who have succeeded - apparently - in painting her administration as failed, when in reality, when you look at the facts, she was succeeding on several fronts?

When people criticize Dr. Warner and suggest she has failed, the "facts" that they cite are vague and emotion-laden, like she dismissed people's opinions and ran roughshod over them. Who? Some intractable faculty? Some lazy employees? Some radical students who couldn't be bothered - and weren't being taught by their "mentors"- to practice the many ways a leader can open channels of communication with even the most dismissive of powerholders?

In fact, the changes Dr. Warner made and was in the midst of making were good for the university and for the students who were there and who would be coming there in future years. Those programs and activities have been cited. They are facts of her record. The allegations against her - about hiring practices, firing practices, modes of operating, financial management - and all the others - have either been found to be baseless or are not being investigated because they are without merit.

I hope the whole truth comes out to accompany the facts. These vague and unsubstantiated accusations, rumors and smears are perpetuated by people who don't or can't find facts, are too lazy to do some basic research, and are happy to repeat what someone else - equally ignorant - has said.

For now the vocal and uninformed minority seems to be getting their way. In the end they will be revealed as fools, as liars, and as cheats

haskellyte 8 years, 5 months ago

You're right, Patrick. Haskell's surival doesn't depend on Dr. Warner being the President. But it does rest on what I would call BIE's mismanagement of the University from the time the BOT started fighting over the fee increase through the detail(s) of Dr. Warner to NM and OK - all of which is being propelled by a small group of faculty and students who have painted a picture of Dr. Warner and of the University that is mostly wrong. They paint and BIE buys it, frames it, and hangs it without thinking about the quality of the painting or its extremely high cost, especially to students in the form of programs and progress. I'd like to know what the majority of students think about all this, not an extreme radical sliver that purport to represent them. Haskell may survive. But if not Dr. Warner, it will take someone like her; someone who can stand up to entrenched interests (staff/faculty) and the powers above (BIE). You may be correct in believing that the students ultimately have the power to set things right, but it is the majority not the few loud voices.

Peace to you and yours this holiday season.

Rainydaze49 8 years, 5 months ago

Whenever someone has something to say that goes against what sypeccary thinks haskell should be, they sure are quick to say they are an AIS major. Maybe sypeccary should go to haskell to learn some new insults eh? lol

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