After first rebuffing the idea, the president of the North Dakota Board of Higher Education says he will now recommend adding an American Indian to the panel that will recruit a new president for the University of North Dakota.
“I’ve thought about it a lot. Obviously, it’s received a lot of attention,” John Q. Paulsen said Wednesday. “The more I thought about it, the more I reflected about it, the more it seemed to me that it was appropriate and, in fact, correct and right that there should be a representative of the American Indian community on the search committee.”
The lack of American Indian representation on the committee caused a stir when its 16 members were announced May 24.
Paulsen, who is a search committee member, has scheduled a conference call board meeting for 11 a.m. next Tuesday to discuss the issue.
He says he has no one in mind to recommend for the spot, but he intends to seek suggestions from Eddie V. Dunn, the outgoing chancellor of the state university system, and William Goetz, Dunn’s successor.
Dr. David M. Gipp, president of the United Tribes Technical College, in Bismarck, N.D., sent a letter to the board last week requesting that an American Indian be added to the committee.
Paulsen declined, saying he had “absolute confidence in the committee to choose a president without regard to race, color or gender.”
On Wednesday, Paulsen said he had reconsidered. The committees that handled the search for UND’s three previous presidents all had American Indian members. UND has more than 30 American Indian-related programs.
“This is one of the most important constituencies within the University of North Dakota community,” Paulsen said.
UND’s relationship with Native students and tribes has come under more scrutiny because of a struggle with the NCAA over the school’s “Fighting Sioux” athletics nickname.
The NCAA has barred UND from hosting postseason tournaments because of the name, which the association has deemed “hostile and abusive.” UND has filed a lawsuit in state district court to challenge the decision.
– Associated Press
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