Haskell regents to meet with federal leaders

Contentious relationship with university president a concern

Amid a tense relationship with the university’s president, members of the Haskell Indian Nations University’s Board of Regents are scheduled to meet next week with Bureau of Indian Affairs officials in Washington, D.C.

George Tiger, regents vice chairman, said Thursday the regents have had several concerns since President Linda Sue Warner took over in 2007.

But Warner answers to the federal BIA, and Tiger said the role of the regents at the university appears to be evolving.

“It seems like some of that has been changed,” he said.

The regents in August asked the BIA to remove Warner as president after they expressed concerns about possible irregularities in accounting, procurement and hiring practices at Haskell under Warner’s supervision.

The Haskell Endowment Association also dissolved recently after board members said Warner refused to work with their leadership.

BIA officials have supported the president, and Warner has denied the allegations in interviews and letters during the past several months. She could not be reached for comment Thursday. A staff member in her office said Warner was traveling.

Also this week, a former Haskell student, Brenda Councillor, said university officials graduated her and kicked her out of her dorm room one semester early.

Warner said in published reports that administrators waived Councillor’s final semester and a required course, but that it was to make room for more students because she already had 10 more credits than required for a degree.

Councillor was a member of the student Senate and had been outspoken about Warner’s leadership. Warner denied that that led to administrators graduating Councillor earlier than she expected.

But regents heard concerns from students because it was a such a rare action.

“I’m not aware of any policy that’s in place right now that would allow for something like that,” Tiger said.

He said he expected Warner to attend the meeting next week between regents and BIA officials.

“I’m hoping that things can be a little more clear maybe after we have this meeting in Washington,” he said.