Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute’s President Dr. Sherry Allison get’s pushed out back door of her own school by Stephanie Birdwell and BIE :
Getting ready for a site visit by The Higher Learning Commission?
What is the best way to prove to them that you cannot operate a
post-secondary institution? Or two or Thirty Seven? Ask BIE
This week BIE’s personnel panel is interviewing applicants for the
President of Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in
Albuquerque, NM. Only they aren’t interviewing in Albuquerque, or
even in Indian Country. They are interviewing in Interior South in
The interview panel likely consists of personnel management
specialists and BIE bureaucrats. Why would this raise any concerns
Well, the Higher Learning Commission provides review and
professional oversight for institutions. Most colleges (and SIPI
is a community college) invites all constituents of the college to
the interview for a position. Faculty and administrators would be
required to visit the campus for 2 or 3 days and would meet with
all concerned in various interview formats. All faculty, for
example, and students or student government, staff….oh yes, and
they might even invite the Board of Regents. The candidate would
provide a public “job talk” and would answer questions throughout
these few days.
(Let’s don’t even talk about the fact that the interview for the
Director of the Bureau of Indian Education was scheduled for 30
minutes per candidate.) I wonder if the candidates for President
of SIPI will get ten or fifteen.
In most collegiate institutions, the office of personnel would
clear the candidates, not hire. Faculty, staff, students,
community members, partners, board members—these constituencies
would rank the final two or three that actually got to come to
campus to meet people. It is a long process because it involves
asking lots of questions and getting multiple perspectives.
In this new era of “dialogue” with Indian Country for Haskell and
SIPI, how does a rush job with no input from the campus fit in?
Why would BIE management do this weeks before the site visit by the
accrediting association that you need to certify the campus
academic programs? (Suggested answer: Need to get someone hired
who works with the current BIE administration before the new
Director shows up on 12th street). Do you think that the site
visit team will not hear about this or will not care? These teams
understand higher education (I think that’s the missing piece) and
these teams will figure out that this sort of management is highly
detrimental to the operation of this institution.
I am not convinced that the BIE management hasn’t figured that out
too, and that perhaps closing the post-secondary schools they run
might actually be the driving force.
You can not find another college in this country where this type of
management is encouraged or supported. The final question really
is, “Who cares?”
Why aren’t the tribes in this region asking questions? Joe Garcia
is the President of NCAI and he lives in NM. Isn’t education an
agenda item for that organization? The Navajo Tribe is the largest
tribe in this country and SIPI sits in their backyard. The acting
President is Navajo and yet BIE does not support her efforts or
candidacy (evident by the rush, hush job they are doing with these
interviews). The BIE is in the business of helping Indian people
and that includes the students at SIPI. If the Higher Learning
Commission puts stipulations on this accreditation because of the
sloppy way that BIE manages the college, maybe SIPI (and Haskell)
should be turned over to Department of Education.
Oh yes, I read where Haskell’s president was sent to SIPI; I wonder
what the accrediting team who visits Haskell will say when they get
there and find the President missing. Looks like both schools are
in jeopardy at the direct order of one highly qualified social
worker, Stephanie Birdwell .