Archive for Sunday, April 4, 2010

Leadership priority

More money won’t improve the situation at Haskell Indian Nations University if leadership problems aren’t resolved.

April 4, 2010


Clarifying the leadership situation at Haskell Indian Nations University is essential to getting the school moving in a positive direction again. The extended absence of Haskell President Linda Sue Warner has created a leadership vacuum that has triggered distracting divisions among faculty and students.

During a visit to Haskell on Thursday, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry EchoHawk confirmed that Warner is among the finalists to become the new director of the Bureau of Indian Education. Warner should receive serious consideration to fill the post. It would be good for Haskell and Indian education across the country. Whether Warner moves into the new position or returns to Haskell full-time, EchoHawk is right in saying that restoring strong leadership at Haskell is a top priority.

EchoHawk’s visit is a clear step toward getting Haskell and its leadership team back on track. For that reason, it’s hard to understand the reaction of Haskell Board of Regents President George Tiger. Even though Tiger agreed that EchoHawk’s visit to Haskell was long overdue, he expressed irritation with the “aggressive” actions of U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback to spur the visit. He contended that the senators should focus their attention on obtaining more money for Haskell. “That should be at the forefront of this,” he said.

Tiger is getting the cart before the horse. It makes no sense to simply throw more money at an institution that is plagued by poor leadership and administrative chaos. The Haskell regents should be grateful that the two Kansas senators were able to apply enough pressure to get the Bureau of Indian Affairs to pay attention to the situation at Haskell.

Without what Tiger termed the “aggressive” actions by Roberts and Brownback, Haskell would continue to be mired in turf battles with internal factions that oppose elevating Haskell’s academic program so it can better prepare its students to meet today’s employment and career demands.

The Haskell regents don’t have the same authority over the operation of the university that the Kansas Board of Regents has over state universities. Federal officials oversee the administration of Haskell and hire and fire its president. Without action at the federal level, there is little chance of improving the deplorable leadership situation.

Until the leadership at Haskell gets back on a firm footing, it will be extremely difficult for the state’s elected representatives in Congress to push for additional funding for the school. That’s the first step. While elected officials look for additional federal money, the Haskell regents also should step up their efforts to raise private donations for the school.

EchoHawk outlined positive goals for Haskell. Working to provide quality four-year degrees and improve graduation rates are the immediate priorities, he said, followed by the possibility of adding graduate programs at the school.

But it all begins with leadership. Haskell regents should thank the Kansas senators for their efforts to remedy the leadership dilemma and get on board with plans that could make Haskell an institution that both federal officials and private donors will be eager to support.


sunshiny 8 years, 1 month ago

This editorial doesn't mention that because the BOR has been complicit in the ongoing delivery of false accusations and have acted on innenundo to support their friends who are employees the following organizations have issued unanimous resolutions to take Haskell and SIPI out of the BIE and provide for an independent, Presidentially (of the US) appointed Board from tribes as a solution. The United Tribes of North and South Dakota, The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (the board for the tribal colleges and unviersities made up of all tribal college presidents, including Haskell and SIPI) and lately the National Indian Education Association, the largest advoacy group for American Indians in this country. You can't get anymore united in Indian Country than this.

This change would solve the problem of George Tiger (and the group he represents) and the this type of legislative change would sweep all the employees at Haskell and SIPI. So, if I were a card carrying FISE (union member) I would be mad that my dues went to undercut the institution so much that I am facing no job. And to remedy that, I would ask for an election and get some people who understand labor relations and not dysfunction. Maybe the current officers could join George Tiger in Oklahoma for a round of cupcakes (he is fond of bake sales, according to the weepy message he provided in an open forum at Haskell) and create their own tribal college.

P.S. George Tiger represents the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma; maybe Echohawk could poll those Chiefs, Governors, and Chairmen to see if they even know they appointed him (well their predecessor did in the 1970s) and George Tiger failed to point that out to them these many years.

Oh yes, Ms. Stephanie Birdwell-Bighorn had her solicitor's opinion to use the Federal Advisory Committee Act to governor this board and as she is so fond of noting, it's an opnion, you don't have to follow it.

Good luck to whomever inherits this mess.

geekin_topekan 8 years, 1 month ago

Here's an idea. WHy dont the actings start by reading the Haskell student manual. They would then be able to understand that they are supposed to administrating a university, not a boarding school. They will then understand that they are servants to the students and no longer guardians.

Money is where the problems begin Tiger. Students need it but it is squandered before reaching them. Mo' money would only mean more to squander at the top and students would still end up without. That is the message that I read in this editorial from LJWorld.

I agree completely that Haskell is way underfunded but hustling the gubment is not a good strategy, although I am sure that it does keep the personal paychecks coming and coming, no? Any chimp with a pen can hustle the gubment, no talent necessary.

goldpurple6 8 years, 1 month ago

I find it ironic that everything Echohawk spoke about in his speech and interviews to the press in regards to Haskell and higher education were the same initiatives that Dr. Warner had been trying to implement - more baccalaureate programs, encouraging research and for faculty to be involved with research, integrating cultural competencies throughout the institution (not just the American Indian Studies program), developing graduate programs, outreach programs including extension, working with secondary students, and trying to layout plans for potential online programs. It is way past time for a new Board of Regents to be appointed who have full support from the groups/organizations they represent. These positions should have requirements that include they be Native, experience in working with Native populations, prefer education (Masters or above), willing to pay for their own travel to Haskell and be reimbursed to show true commitment and not a free ride, and have them put out a yearly report showing what they have accomplished (policy, funding brought into the school) and most importantly have term limits. I applaud this editorial, it is very well thought out and does point out facts on what must happen at Haskell before the school can expect to see any increase in Federal funding.

Mike Ford 8 years, 1 month ago

what is Herr Dolph really pushing with all of this "Concern?" The GOP has underfunded BIA education every since the Gipper's Whiz Boy David Stockman decided that the U.S. Government really didn't have any fiduciary responsibility for stealing most of this country in return for the promise of tribal education as stated in the Civilization Act of March 3, 1819 and cut the BIA's budget back in the early 1980's by upwards of 40 percent stunting tribal growth and economies until the Gop passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. I told all of these D.C. Gop people via phone calls that providing school funding was more important than reinstalling a dictator. who listens though?

Native_6packer 8 years, 1 month ago

I agree, internal problems within Haskell will be difficult to resolve. After all, this is a federal institution with employees who are only interested in their own well being and the paycheck NOT whats in the best interest of the students. Haskell has been here 125 years and just now only implemented two (?) 4 year bachelor programs while tribal colleges with only 30 years or so of being in existence offer Masters level and Ph.D. programs? How are they so successful? Haskell needs to bring on some of the Tribal college personnel to teach Haskell their best practices and provide technical assistance and get the show on the road! Good grief us taxpayers are supporting the salaries of the employees at Haskell. $14.5 million budget is what I read. With the continuous dysfunction and instability shouldn't tribes think about self governance and take over the school and implement the mission of providing the best quality of education to our future generation.?? On 2/22/2010 Secretary Ken Salazar announced the Departments Plan of Action to respect tribal sovereignty and support self-determination and self-governance. Tribes and tribal educational organizations need to take a good look at all the options and consider Self Governance. Haskell can be a historical place and the $14.5 million can be turned over to successful tribal colleges. Also the Haskell's Board of Regents have existed for sometime. All I can see is the negativity in their comments and for the life of me cannot see where their role can be helpful especially one individual (who I refuse to name). Are these individual paid with federal dollars to attend meetings at Haskell. Is this reported to IRS? Under the Freedom of Information Act this information will come to light.

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