The federal government soon will be looking for a new president to lead Haskell Indian Nations University.
Linda Warner, who started work as Haskell president in April 2007, has accepted another job with the Bureau of Indian Education and, therefore, no longer is the school’s president, said Larry Echo Hawk, U.S. assistant secretary for Indian affairs.
Warner had been Haskell president in name only since September 2009, when she had been detailed off campus to perform accreditation work at another federal school for American Indians: Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque, N.M.
In January, the government sent her to a regional Bureau of Indian Education office in Oklahoma City, and she has not set foot on the Haskell campus since her departure.
“I want to acknowledge and thank Dr. Warner for her contributions to the BIE, and in particular, Haskell Indian Nations University,” Echo Hawk said, in a letter.
Officials never disclosed their reasons for sending Warner off campus, although she had clashed with some faculty and staff on campus over work rules and plans to launch additional programs.
Members of Haskell’s Board of Regents twice cast votes of “no confidence” in Warner — once before her departure from campus, and again in May — in an continued effort to have her removed from campus. Regents said Warner didn’t properly communicate with regents, filed reports “usurping the authority” of regents, and did not follow a previous agreement that outlined responsibilities for the regents.
The divisiveness on the Haskell campus drew criticism and concern from U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and others in the Kansas Congressional delegation, who eight months ago formally urged the Department of Interior to address leadership concerns at Haskell.
Echo Hawk’s letter, posted Monday, included an update regarding his own visit to campus during the spring.
“While my visit was in the midst of challenging circumstances, I was nonetheless encouraged and inspired by the commitment, dedication and perseverance of the students, administration, faculty and staff of the university,” Echo Hawk said. “Haskell has faced many challenges throughout its 126-year history, and it has met those challenges head on, overcoming adversity and strengthening itself in the process. … One thing remains the same — the perseverance of Haskell that will lead to a brighter future.”
Chris Redman, an education specialist from the bureau’s Oklahoma City office, remains Haskell’s interim president. His latest term as interim president was to end this week, but Echo Hawk extended the term while the government prepares to lead a search for Warner’s successor.
Leading the search will be Keith Moore, who started June 1 as director of the Bureau of Indian Education. A committee will conduct a national search for candidates.