Haskell Indian Nations University deserves a new president who will provide strong leadership to the school and forge beneficial partnerships in the community.
Seven candidates for the president’s job came to Lawrence last week and were greeted by an interested audience that reportedly included at least 120 people throughout the two days of interviews. That level of engagement by Haskell students, faculty and staff should be a positive sign for anyone seeking the president’s job. The federal Bureau of Indian Education now is reviewing feedback and recommendations collected after the interviews and will narrow the pool for further interviews.
Little information has been released about the candidates, but perhaps the top priority for those doing the hiring is to find someone who plans to stay in the job for a number of years and provide active leadership for the school. Haskell’s most recent president, Chris Redman, stayed in the job for less than two years before retiring in May. The tenure of her predecessor, Linda Sue Warner, was longer, but much of that time, she was away from the Haskell campus on other assignments for the BIE. Four interim presidents led the school after she left and before Redman was named president.
Continuity obviously has been sorely lacking in the president’s office, and that high turnover has made it difficult for the school to deal with federal budget cuts and issues related to its academic and athletic programs.
According to the job description posted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Haskell president “provides vision, leadership and advocacy for the college” as well as being responsible for all aspects of the school’s administration. In accordance with the Indian Preference Act of 1934, preference will be given to qualified Indian candidates, the job listing said, but non-Indian applicants will be considered “in the absence of a qualified Indian Preference” candidate.
In addition to the BIA requirements, local residents also would welcome a new Haskell leader who is interested in fostering a stronger relationship with the Lawrence community. Tapping into the broad support Haskell has in Lawrence would benefit both the school and the community.
Haskell has a great tradition and holds an honored position among Indians throughout the country. Now, it needs a strong leader who respects that tradition and is ready to build an even stronger future for the school and its students.