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Search For New UND President Needs American Indian Voice


The president of United Tribes Technical College says the committee searching for a new University of North Dakota president should include an American Indian.

United Tribes President David Gipp sent a letter to the State Board of Higher Education, seeking the appointment of an American Indian to the 16-member group.

The search committee, selected in late May, is screening applications from candidates to succeed UND President Charles Kupchella. The committee includes faculty members, students, alumni, state officials and members of the Grand Forks community.

“If this new president at UND is going to be able to serve one and all, we need to have a president who is knowledgeable or can become knowledgeable about American Indians and the role they play in this state,” Gipp said.

John Q. Paulsen, president of the State Board of Higher Education, said the selection committee can adequately consider American Indian issues even though it lacks an American Indian member. He said the board narrowed a list of hundreds of suggested names, including those from minority groups, in choosing the committee.

“We weren’t concerned as much about ethnic background as we were about people’s ability to make good decisions in selecting a new president,” Paulsen said. “And we feel we’ve selected a committee that can achieve that goal.”

Paulsen said members of the American Indian community can send questions and comments to search committee members, who can pass them on to the applicants.

“To treat the state’s most significant minority population in a paternalistic way is unacceptable in the 21st Century,” Gipp said. “To say, ‘we can handle it for you, that you don’t really need to be involved at our level,” exposes a blind spot in the leadership of higher education.”

Kupchella announced his plans to retire in January, after eight years at the university’s helm.

Leigh Jeanotte, the director of American Indian Student Services at UND, said the university receives about $13 million in state and federal grants to run dozens of programs that benefit American Indians.

“It’s just that there’s such a large presence of American Indians on campus, it seems there should be a representative of that group on the (search) committee,” he said.

– Associated Press

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