Bureau of Indian Education sends review team to Haskell after no-confidence vote in president

photo by: Conrad Swanson/Journal-World File Photo

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

Following a vote of no-confidence in the president of Haskell Indian Nations University earlier this month, the government agency that oversees Haskell has sent a team to the Lawrence campus to do an administrative review.

An “impartial administrative review team” from the Bureau of Indian Education was scheduled to arrive at Haskell on Monday, according to a message the BIE sent to Haskell employees.

The message states that the BIE takes local concerns seriously and that the team will gather and review information regarding student and staff concerns as well as the Faculty Senate’s vote of no confidence.

“Our goal is to use this impartial review to help make sure HINU continues to function as a premiere standard for post-secondary education in Indian Country while supporting the rights of students and staff,” the message states.

As the Journal-World reported, Haskell’s Faculty Senate unanimously declared on April 1 that it had no confidence in Haskell President Ronald Graham, claiming that he has demonstrated disdain for the free speech rights of students and faculty and a disregard for academic freedom. They also said that Graham has failed to engage in shared governance.

Graham did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Journal-World regarding the review team.

In March, the editor of Haskell’s student newspaper filed a federal lawsuit against Graham, the university, the BIE and BIE Director Tony Dearman. The lawsuit, filed by student editor Jared Nally, comes after Graham sent a directive to Nally in October that told the student journalist what he could and could not publish. Only a little over a week after he was sued by Nally, Graham sent a directive to his staff restricting how they could communicate. On April 6, Dearman rescinded Graham’s directive to his staff, stating that the bureau was committed to freedom of expression.

The BIE and Bureau of Indian Affairs did not immediately respond to questions from the Journal-World regarding the review team, such as how they ensured the team was impartial, how many members were on the team, how long the team would be at Haskell and when the team would provide guidance to the BIE.

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