Haskell challenge

J-W Editorials

August 27, 2010

There are many special circumstances that contribute to a dismal graduation rate at Haskell Indian Nations University, but recently published data nonetheless provide additional evidence of the need to resolve leadership issues at the school.

Using figures reported to the U.S. Department of Education, the Washington Monthly magazine this week published a list of the nation’s 50 four-year, public and not-for-profit private colleges with the lowest graduation rates. Haskell tied for 13th place on the list, with a graduation rate of 9 percent. That means that only 9 percent of students entering Haskell in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree successfully complete such a degree within six years.

That compares with a graduation rate at Kansas University of about 60 percent, which, according to the recent U.S. News and World Reports rankings, is among the lowest in the Big 12 conference.

KU officials often point to the state’s qualified admissions policy as the reason for its own low graduation rate. They say the admissions requirements for graduates of Kansas high schools aren’t high enough to insure those students are adequately prepared for university work.

The grade point average, ACT scores or high school rankings required for admission to Haskell are considerably lower that those at KU. All Haskell students must be members of federally recognized American Indian tribes. Many of those who live on reservations come from low-income families and high schools that may not provide the best preparation for college work. It’s safe to say the percentage of ill-prepared freshmen who arrive on KU’s campus each year pales by comparison to the percentage Haskell faces.

To their credit, Haskell officials responded to the publicity about their low graduation rate not with excuses but with a commitment to do better. To that end, they are preparing to open the “Haskell Success Center” which will provide centralized advising and other services designed to help students complete their degrees.

That’s a good step, but it seems to us that there is nothing more important to Haskell and the success of its students than to provide the strong leadership the school has been lacking for some time. Linda Warner, who still is the school’s official president, has been required to fulfill other assignments for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and hasn’t been allowed to concentrate on the needs of Haskell.

BIA officials said earlier this year that a decision about Haskell’s president would be forthcoming after a new director began work at the Bureau of Indian Education. That happened June 1, but no decision about Haskell has been announced.

Because of the special circumstances faced by the Haskell student body, raising the school’s graduation rate is a daunting challenge. Restoring strong leadership and vision to the school is the only way it will have a chance of rising to that challenge.


12 responses to “Haskell challenge

  1. geekin_topekan (anonymous) says…

    The few elitists who have infected Haskell and eat at her assets and act as carrier host to a few other internal parasites, have apparently been fighting tooth and nail to maintain the status quo, and have been for sometime as far as I can tell from the now defunct Haskellnews and hearing from students during my own “listening sessions”. When I say “status quo” I mean that they not only adhere to the untouchable and unique position that they are in, but they maintain the reservation mentality as well. They need a subordinate population, but also needed are a few catered-to individuals to present as models, whenever the questions of funds and graduation rates come up. Go visit the rez and talk with a few people if you want to know what I am talking about. It is systematic, the same method used on prisoners.

    As a sovereign people, asking the feds to investigate Haskell would be like asking the feds to investigate Japan. It would take an act of congress or Haskell would have to pose a threat to oil interests or some other Republican approved entity, in order for the gubment to take allegations seriously. Do you think that the acting administration at Haskell does not know this? Does the word cozy, come to mind? The BIE can do their own internal investigation, un-molested , but that would be like a wino investigating a bottle of Old Crow.

    This is my opinion only and I do not recommend it be taken at face value. Never have, never will.

    August 27, 2010 at 8:27 a.m.

  2. sbobandme (anonymous) says…

    Great article !
    With the lack of leadership and the detailing of Haskell’s president the ship has sunk. @ Practicality who can DISagree with you? As for the BIA Haskell is being run by the very people who let Sipi lose it’s accreditation. Not only does Haskell’s current leadership ( and I say that very loosely) need to go, those at The Bureau of Indian Affairs/ Education, who let this happen need to go with them.
    Kudos to Senator Pat Roberts.

  3. The_Big_B (anonymous) says…

    Don’t know much of anything about Haskell.
    Don’t know why it exists.
    Is a self-segregated educational institution needed?
    Isn’t that what Haskell is, basically?
    I would think funding and educational opportunities are available elsewhere.
    August 27, 2010 at 2:54 p.m.

  4. katatnite (anonymous) says…

    I agree with all of the comments so far and it is a good article, but I have concerns as far as the “Haskell Success Center” what is going to make it successful when it will be ran by the same people who are currently in charge of Haskell? Aren’t these the same people who tried to hide all Haskell’s current mess with a PR campaign? Worried about saving their jobs instead of graduating students.
    I too know little about Haskell, but anyone can clearly see it is in big trouble. I don’t understand what the current status is with their president? I saw the changes that she was making and had a chance to talk with her a couple of time and hear her speak once and I was quite impressed by her. What exactly is a detail? Can’t the “current in charge people” who are performing so poorly be detailed? Maybe someone can explain this to me.
    Also, what is The Kansas congressional delegation? Are they helping Haskell?
    One more question why does Haskell exist? I feel sorry that the government is giving Native Americans such a poor education. Guess they thought no one would notice.
    August 27, 2010 at 3:12 p.m.

  5. ihaveamasters (anonymous) says…

    Yes, unless the BIE finally does the right thing and let’s the current leadership go, then the “Haskell Success Center” will indeed be ran by the very people who can not get themselves out of a paper bag. Let alone try and run anything. While they take credit for thinking up the success center, it was really Dr. Ted Wright’s idea, he had it all mapped out before the crazies ran him out of Haskell.
    The current status of Haskell’s President Dr. Linda Sue Warner is apparently a well kept secret, which considering everything that is now going on at Haskell it is ridiculous. She should be brought back immediately, I truly believe that she is Haskell’s only saving grace. Question is would she even come back? I don’t know her, but my guess is that she would not. Why should she?
    As for your question about being detailed. Details are suppose to be given when a government employee is badly needed somewhere else. However, in this mess, it appears to be nothing more then retaliation against Dr. Warner. Because where she is badly needed is at Haskell. Chris Redman who is the current acting president is on the campus as little as he can be. There really isn’t any true leadership on the Haskell campus right now. As for the current people who are in charge and doing poorly. Can’t they be detailed? Sure they should have been out of there along time ago.
    The Kansas congressional delegation is a group of Kansas senators and congress people headed up by Senator Pat Roberts to try and help out with the mess that Haskell is in right now.
    Haskell exists because of treaties the US government gave to Native Americans to ensure them an education. However, there is a debate currently as to whether or not that includes a college education, which after reading up on this matter, I don’t believe that it does. Hope this helped.
    August 28, 2010 at 12:54 a.m

  6. friendofhaskell (anonymous) says…

    The problems identified with retention and graduation did not recently surface but were totally ignored by the Warner administration. Rather than focusing on the mission of Haskell and improving the quality of education, the ongoing debacle at Haskell resulting from the failed leadership, cronyism, and the “look good” facades of excellence of the Warner administration are suffocating the potential of Haskell…it’s time to move forward.
    August 29, 2010 at 9:58 a.m.

  7. goldpurple6 (anonymous) says…

    No, I disagree. I don’t think the administration ignored the retention and graduation rates. I believe it was more along the lines of the administration has/was developing plans for improvement in all areas and was met with resistance from faculty and staff who failed to see the value in improving processes and educational opportunities because they were too caught up in the politics of ‘choosing sides’ instead of focusing on the students. In reading this editorial and the recent article on Haskell’s dismal graduation rate, it will be interesting to note what direction the school will take to address these issues and issues to come.

    In this same publication, Leech Lake Tribal College was noted as being one of the best colleges. Maybe the Haskell and BIE administrators should learn from their fellow tribal college on best practices for student retention and graduation.
    August 29, 2010 at 10:17 a.m.

  8. tuschkahouma (anonymous) says…

    Even as a tribal descendant who cannot attend Haskell because of my tribe’s high blood quantum
    requirements, I still defend schools like Haskell. Part of the reason Haskell is resented
    and singled out for this rate is below the surface. Education at least an education in
    a non tribal environment has always been a thorny issue. Whose version of history
    and of value in whose world is the question that is always wondered about with education
    amongst tribal people. What non-Indians don’t realize is the paternalistic history your country
    and people have towards us. Do we ever get to figure out what is best for tribal students
    or is the US Government and one political party always the one looking to meddle when they
    previously didn’t care and didn’t want to fund a number of BIA schools anyway in spite of
    the congressional appropriations that were the remnants of land theft that created this
    country as you all know it.

    Having driven through a number of tribal jurisdicitions in a number of states, I would say that
    some children come from communities that prepare their kids to succeed in the world and others
    don’t. Why do you think you see cars and trucks with Mississippi tags at Haskell and in Lawrence?
    this tribe values education. Some others do, some others don’t. When the GOP and the
    paper cronies stop trying to install a government chief to run the school like a dictatorship
    and ignore BIA rules and stop smearing people, something good might happen.. but as long
    as a paper and a party need to Willy Horton somebody I guess this will be an issue.
    August 29, 2010 at 10:27 a.m.

  9. prohaskell (anonymous) says…

    Unfortunately, there is a small group people at Haskell bend on keeping it in a boarding school mentality. That is what they know and the only way that they can function. People know who they are and they include Venida Chenault and Dan Wildcat. They do not want Haskell to be a real university that would mean the students would think for themselves and not have “care takers” but actual university employees working to serve them, instead of control them. Why did Dan Wildcat cancel the accreditation visits for the two new degree programs, that Dr. Warner had well on the way to becoming two new four year degree programs Haskell? Please, no song and dance about funds. If Haskell can’t afford new programs, then it should not be flying Stephanie Birdwell all over the country for listening sessions or taking Haskell board members to conferences in Washington D.C. just how much did the last one cost? All while, Sipi is losing it’s accreditation. Nor, should it exist if the government cannot afford new four year programs for the school.
    Dr. Warner is too good for Haskell. Too well educated (a Penn State grad who, was also accepted into Harvard), too well spoken, but, most all her plans for Haskell were too innovated for that set of employees (the ones who don’t know how to function in a university setting). They set out to stop, Dr.Warner’s plans to make Haskell a real university; they should be the ones to go.
    What is funny is that they now use Dr. Ted Wright’s plan for a new career center, to try and make themselves look good. That’s right Dr. Ted Wright’s plan.
    Haskell’s retention and graduation rates are not Dr.Warner’s fault she came to Haskell to improve those types of things and improving them she was.
    The BIA needs to wake up. Take a good look at what happened to Sipi and now what is happening to Haskell. Hopefully, Senator Pat Roberts will move fast to help Haskell and hopefully it is not too late.
    It is a sorry state of affairs, when a small group of employees can run over top BIA officials and possibly spell the end for Haskell Indian Nations “University”.
    August 29, 2010 at 6:15 p.m

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