Haskell names new acting dean to replace president’s son

photo by: Conrad Swanson

A sign at the entrance to Haskell Indian Nations University is shown Friday, Aug. 5, 2016.

Haskell Indian Nations University has named a new acting dean of students in place of the university president’s son, who previously held the position.

Melissa Holder, a faculty member in Haskell’s American Indian studies program, will serve as the university’s acting dean of students, according to a campus announcement from Haskell’s office of the vice-president for university services, Tonia Salvini. Holder will split her time between teaching and the administrative role, described as a 120-day detail assignment in a non-supervisory capacity.

Haskell’s chief information officer, Josh Arce, held the position of acting dean of students as a detail assignment for the past eight months, according to the announcement, dated Wednesday.

Arce is the son of Haskell President Venida Chenault and the subject of a recent federal nepotism complaint filed by Haskell instructor Theresa Milk.

Arce was removed from the acting dean of students position as of Sept. 1, the Journal-World reported.

Haskell is the country’s only four-year university run by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education. The university frequently has administrative positions staffed by interims for extended periods of time, citing federal funding shortages to fill them on a permanent basis.

Salvini’s announcement thanked Arce for his term.

“He has been persistent to improve services to and for students,” she said. “Such improvements include the recent start of the renovation of the Tecumseh gymnasium floor, increased engagement with student activities and recreation, serving on the Career Fair planning committee and assuming responsibilities maintaining oversight to services addressing student issues and concerns.”

Holder, who has worked at Haskell 12 years, is a Haskell alumna who recently completed her doctorate in social work from the University of Kansas.