DI: What are your top three goals for Haskell?
LW: I want Haskell to start acting like the university we CAN be! A friend recently advised me to quit talking about Haskell’s potential and start doing something about it. 2. We are making a concerted effort to raise awareness of our presence both in Indian country and beyond. 3. We are working to build a stronger relationship with the BIE K-12 schools (Bureau of Indian Education schools). We have created the RED center, Research, Evaluation and Dissemination, which will give our baccalaureate students credit for work on research that creates a culturally relevant curriculum for the BIE K-12 system. DI: What was the appeal of this position? LW: It was kind of like returning home for me. I had worked here in admissions for five years. My children and mother attended Haskell. I want my grandchildren to attend the school as well.
DI: Describe the main difference between mainstream universities/colleges and Haskell.
LW: The small size is one of the most important differences. It creates a community in which everyone knows everyone else, which is very similar to Indian communities. Haskell is not in competition with other tribal colleges for students. Those who wish to remain in their communities attend local tribal colleges; those students who wish to leave home come to Haskell.
DI: What are the personal and professional characteristics you think have helped you ascend to executive level positions in the academy? LW: Persistence! I’ve always believed that I have the power to do what I wanted to do. As I get older, I notice that I am also more driven; I have a sense of urgency to get things done.
DI: What are your words to live by?
LW: YAMSS! You Are My Success Story! As I made the decision to return to Haskell, I started thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if everyone on campus thought of each other in this way?” So, I started encouraging students and staff to say to others, “You are my success story!” That is what Indian country is all about. It’s not about competition and ego; it’s about community.
DI: As one of only a handful of Native American women in executive academia, how has your heritage helped and/or hindered your career? LW: That’s interesting you should ask me that because my dissertation was on the stereotyping of Native American women as managers! Being Comanche has never hurt me! I’ve had opportunities [that] I had never imagined. My Comanche elders have taught me to be patient with young people; this has helped me in my work.
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