Archive for Friday, June 10, 2011

Haskell vision

The new president of Haskell Indian Nations University will face both challenges and opportunities.

June 10, 2011


The naming of a new, permanent president is great news for Haskell Indian Nations University.

After almost two years without a full-time president on campus, the school is in serious need of consistent and visionary leadership. Hopefully, Chris Redman, who will take over as Haskell’s president on July 3, will provide that kind of leadership.

Redman comes to the job with some experience that should be helpful. He has worked for Haskell since 2008, including two stints as the school’s interim president. Before that he worked in various positions for his tribe, the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and then for the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Indian Education Programs in Washington, D.C.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa and a master’s degree in human relations from the University of Oklahoma. Knowledge of both business and human relations should come in handy for the new president.

Haskell is an important part of Lawrence and an important touchstone for the American Indian community. In recent years, the school has taken giant strides in providing higher education opportunities for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Nonetheless, it continues to face challenges.

Although it has a board of regents, it is only an advisory body with no power to make policy decisions. That power remains with the Bureau of Indian Education, where policymaking often becomes mired in the bureaucracy of the federal government. The lack of any independent governing body for the school makes it difficult for Haskell to attract private donations from tribal organizations and others.

Any state university in the country knows how important private money is to maintaining or building its reputation and excellence. It would be a revolutionary act, but why couldn’t the federal government establish a relationship with Haskell that resembles the relationship Kansas has with its state universities? State lawmakers are responsible for providing some tax support for those schools, but policy decisions are delegated to the Kansas Board of Regents which is more limber in responding to various university needs. Not every decision requires an act of Congress.

Haskell has important ties to the past but it also is a key portal to the future for many American Indian students, as well as the tribes they represent. As we noted, the school has taken great strides over the last decade or so, but more needs to be done. We hope Redman won’t be afraid to think big and take a few risks to move this unique school forward.


ssakcaj 7 years ago

Why wouldn't the writer infer doubt? Have you seen anything from Haskell the past two years to inspire confidence?

During the past two years while Redman was acting, I, or the people I have talked to, have seen nothing to indicate that he has any ability or desire to do anything slightly more risky than to secure a safe landing for himself.

NMXeagle 7 years ago

“visionary leadership.” Been there, done that.

Warner tried to institute standards and accountability. She supported Healthier Haskell and tried to stop abuses by faculty at other universities who want to use Haskell and its pseudo scholars to get grant money. She started the RED research Center with a nationally-recognized board who intimidated the people who drove Warner out. The list goes on. While her personality may not have been ideal for that position her ideas were exactly what the place needed.

She was undermined at every turn by people who are still at Haskell and by the comical Board. Excellent staff were pushed out or they left in disgust. Parents don’t want to send their children there. Faculty at other schools cringe when HINU AIS graduates, who are “taught” by a shockingly unqualified instructor, enroll in their classes. Any new leader needs to do the same things Warner did. The only way Haskell will gain respect is if the BIE supports Redman while he purges the place of rotten “faculty” and staff. Hopefully he will not do what the status quo at Haskell will try to force him into doing. Then the place will limp along as usual. ssakcaj is probably right, unfortunately.

sbobandme 7 years ago

@ NMXeagle My wife and I agree with everything you said except "While her personality may not have been ideal for that position" there was nothing wrong with Dr. Warner's personality. She came to Haskell as a true professional, with a professional's personality. Something that most Haskell employees were not and are not use to. Her job was not to run around the campus and join the Haskell cliques and she did not. She rose above the rap that goes on out there and against all odds tried to build Haskell into a university that Indians could be proud of and for that her reward was to be bullied and reassigned. Her personality didn't have a thing to do with the childish behavior of some of the Haskell employees and members of the Haskell board. That being said two years after she is gone we see what Haskell is like and without Dr. Warner at the helm it is a waste of taxpayers money. Mr. Redman cannot save it now, the same people who were out to destroy Dr. Warner remain and have now destroyed Haskell would you not agree? This was not a personality problem rather as Dan Wildcat put it, it was and remains to be a Haskell union problem .... close the doors don't waste one more of our hard earned tax dollars on trying to save it.

ivalueamerica 7 years ago

I think Dr. Warner is a great person and had a wonderful vision, but I think it is really pretty clear that she did not have the personality to sell her vision, inspire confidence, or deflect detractors..all skills needed for the job. Personality was her biggest failing.

sbobandme 7 years ago

The first thing Mr. Redman needs to do is get a new board of regents. When Alice tries to chase after the White Rabbit she comes across Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. When Mr. Redman gets to Haskell my wife and I are pretty sure he will also run into them, they need to go too.

katatnite 7 years ago

Haskell will in all likelihood not have another president that had the vision for Haskell that Dr. Warner had. She was in it to make Haskell a true university had she been able to stay she would have made a positive impact on Haskell students for generations to come. Dr. Warner was not there so that she could be popular among the Haskell employees she came to make a different for the students and she was doing that. Shameful is not even a strong enough word to describe how she was treated by a small group of Haskell employees. Larry Echohawk made one big mistake when he reassigned her. The people that he listened to should have been the ones he got rid of, not Dr. Warner. I doubt that Haskell will make it much longer, two years without a president was two years too long and many of Haskell's best employees and students left shortly after Dr. Warner was gone. All that can be done to maybe save it now is for Redman to go in and clean house. New board, new faculty , etc. Kick out the current board and put Haskell under the Kansas Board of Regents ( Link: bet Haskell would start seeing some positive changes then. Deep in my heart I feel it is just too late, too much damage was done when no president was in place.

ThatsThat 7 years ago

Redman will be gone 3 years tops....he is a master of the stepping stone and is using Haskell as an chance to build his resume. He is gunna sit at the top and make simple "don't rock the boat" decisions while he lets the VPs make all the curriculum and budget calls. He might stick his 2 cents in every once in a while but for the most part he will do what he is told by the BIE. Echohawk will call up and say "Hows Haskell?" and he will put the 3 good things that happened that semester up front like a kid presenting at some conference somewhere or how they have re-shuffled the deck of instructors they have that will make the AIS dept. the best in the country so that everyone that graduates from there can get a job back in indian country...however those kids that grew up in Tulsa are screwed. Anyways...Venida will intimidate him into running the curriculum side of things...M. Lewis or however is running the finance part of things will tell him there is no money for this or that andn if you disagree with me thats ok because I don't work under your supervision. He won't mess with the Regents....and he will start slicing up the college to save money where ever he can so that his supervisors can read that they are doing ok financially so they can keep giving the school its band-aid budget year after year. The problem with hiring Redman is that he is too interested in keeping his job so there will be no risks taken.....while Dr. Warner was connected throughout the country at many different educational level. The reason she didn't care about making harsh decisions was because she knew it was the right thing to do even if it meant her job...and she also knew she could get another one.

sbobandme 7 years ago

@ ThatsThat Superbly stated. Right on all accounts.

greenwichvillage 7 years ago

I know neither Mr. Redman nor Dr. Warner. What Mr. Redman will or will not do is yet too be seem. We here in New York heard about what Dr. Warner was doing while she was president at Haskell. I have never written a comment before on anything, but this seems important. As I understand it Dr. Warner was making great strides at Haskell and that needed to happen: A research center ( can't be a real university without one ), she tried to add more classes for the students, brought a few teachers in from other counties to teach at Haskell ( for some American Indian students this would be a one time opportunity ), worked hard to make Haskell a safe place for students, vastly improved the Haskell sports ( also a one time opportunity for many American Indian students) programs and got rid of some employees who needed to go. As I stated I do not know Dr. Warner on a personal level, I can telll you she is well known and highly regarded in the academic world, both American Indian and non-American Indians know of her work. I am puzzled as to how the BIE works? The president of any university is the one in charge and makes all final decisions even those concerning personnel matters. If there is a problem between a university president and a board of regents, members of the board are usually asked to step down, or they just do so. From the outside looking in it appears that the BIE does not want American Indian students to succeed. If they did they would be graduating their students with four year degrees, giving them a safe learning environment, making sure they graduate with degrees that they can actually use in the real world. Sounds like all the things that Dr. Warner was trying to accomplish , it makes one wonder if the BIE is really interested in their students? They let SIPI lose their accreditation and how many times has Mr. Larry Echohawk been to the Haskell campus? It all just seems a little fishy to me. Get rid of a perfectly good president, then let the place fall apart for two years without one, then put one in who by all accounts will simply bide his time while he is there. American Indians who attend Haskell and the tribes that encourage them had better start waking up. Looks like to me once again the government is not treating you fairly. My advice go somewhere, where you can get a real education and a degree that you can use.

jslawker 7 years ago

As Greenwichvillage put it "go somewhere, where you can get a real education and a degree that you can use" and go somewhere you won't waste your athletic eligibility playing for an administation that refuses to support your efforts. Its not the athletic staffs fault that there aren't enough coaches to properly instruct players at the college level it is the administration's fault for short changing the athletic dept. into the skeleton of a crew that is there to coach the kids. Click on any 4 year school's website in the state of KS and go to thier athletic site and count the number of not just head coaches but assistant coaches that are spearheading thier athletic programs. Then click on Haskell's website and you will find a head coach (who some are part time employees) for every sport but what you won't find are very many assistant coaches and if you do find one or two they are volunteers. College athletic programs can not be successful unless the administrations says here is some $ to hire quality coaches. For example, HINU's athletic trainer governs all sports with no help. Meaning one person for hundreds of athletes with no breaks between seasons because one season bleeds into the next. He may have a couple of interns from KU or a kid that is interested in the field from Haskell but there is no athletic training program on campus to draw help from and even if there was it would just be another kid who had taken a class or two in Athletic Injuries, not a professional who knows what they are doing. Last but not least, what is Mr. Redman going to do about it? Nothing if not make it worse by cutting back and what will Haskell do? It will keep trying to offer programs so that the kids can participate in extra curricular activities and the good hearted coaches will take on more work than they can handle so that the kids won't suffer. But what they don't realize is that in all reality the kid with only 4 years of eligibility is wasting it trying to win games for a school that has put them on the field or court with one arm and one leg tied behind thier back and the guy who brought the rope is in the stands with the President's Indian Head Medalion around his neck trying to mouth the words to "Onward Haskell".

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