Request For American Indian Presence In UND Search Denied

GRAND FORKS, N.D.

The president of the North Dakota Board of Higher Education says the membership of a 16-member committee searching for a new University of North Dakota president will not be changed, despite a request that an American Indian be added.

“I have absolute confidence in the committee to choose a president without regard to race, color or gender,” John Q. Paulsen said.

United Tribes Technical College President David Gipp recently sent a letter to the board asking that an American Indian be appointed to the committee.

He said Friday that he was “tremendously disappointed with the response” and that he has a “lack of faith in the board to work on behalf of all people in North Dakota.”

The search committee includes UND faculty, alumni, the student body president, members of the state board and members of the Grand Forks community. The group is screening applicants to replace current president Charles Kupchella, who is retiring next year.

Leigh Jeanotte, the director of American Indian Student Services at UND, says he is not surprised by Paulsen’s decision. Jeanotte says past presidential search committees have included an American Indian representative.

“I think, quite honestly, that Mr. Gipp’s comment about the state board being a bit blind is a bit obvious,” he says.

The search committee this week extended the original timeline for hiring a new president. The person will now take office in March or later instead of January, when Kupchella was planning to retire. Kupchella has said he could stay on until June 30 of next year if needed.

The committee, which next meets Aug. 14, hopes to narrow the search to about a dozen applicants by Nov. 19 and pare that list down to at least three by Jan. 28. The state board then would interview the finalists and make its decision.

– Associated Press 

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