The best thing federal officials can do for Haskell Indian Nations University is resolve the school’s lingering leadership question.
Additional federal funds are one way to improve programs at Haskell Indian Nations University, but they don’t address the school’s No. 1 need: a permanent president who can set a strong course for Haskell’s future.
This week, the U.S. Department of Education announced a $1.6 million federal grant to improve academic quality, institutional management and fiscal stability at Haskell. It’s a significant amount of money for the school, whose annual allocation from the federal government is only $14.2 million. According to a representative of the Haskell president’s office, the money will be used to improve advising and student retention services, which is a good goal.
However, despite repeated assurances from the Bureau of Indian Affairs that a decision on the Haskell presidency is forthcoming, the school’s leadership remains in limbo. Linda Warner, who still is the school’s official president, has been fulfilling BIA assignments in other states for more than a year. In the meantime, Haskell has had three acting presidents, but no decision about a permanent president.
The $1.4 million grant is nice, but if federal officials really want to help Haskell, they should quit delaying and return Warner to Lawrence and allow her to oversee and initiate new policies and academic opportunities — or bring in another experienced, courageous, visionary academic leader.