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Source: Grand Forks Herald, May 5, 1991
UND SHORT ON INDIAN
FACULTY SCHOOL OFFICIALS: WE MUST WORK HARD TO CLOSE THE GAP
Steve Schmidt, Herald Staff Writer
UND pays lots of attention to American Indians and their culture, and President Thomas Clifford often boasts of that.
Even so, UND has come out really short on Indian faculty, campus administrators acknowledge.
Several situations on campus this spring bear out the challenge in minority recruiting.
Recent reports by the affirmative action office on campus put the number of Indian faculty at only five. That's five out of more than 700 full-and part-time professors.
Nearby Bemidji State University in Minnesota is half the size, but has attracted more than twice the number of Indian faculty members as UND.
Subsequent checking around campus indicates there's really one Indian on the UND campus who's a full-time tenure-track professor, and that's John Salter, the chairman of the Indian studies department. The rest are administrative program workers who teach only on occasion.
The most experienced of them, Sioux Indian Arthur Raymond, is retiring this year after 20 years helping guide UND's nationally recognized Indian program development.
It's rare for qualified Indians to emerge in the pool of candidates for almost any faculty or administrative position -- and when they do, that doesn't mean UND will hire them.
This spring UND master's graduate Bennett Brien, an accomplished North Dakota Indian, artist who sculpted the buffalo in front of the State Heritage Center in Bismarck, applied for a UND visual arts faculty opening. He didn't make the search committee's list of three finalists.
Search committee member Donald Miller, a professor of visual arts, said although Brien was qualified, the competition is heavy.
He said, "The arts at present is really a buyers' market. We had something in the neighborhood of 120 candidates apply, and we're way below average. Nationally, it's something like 250 to 280 applying on the average. So when you have one regional minority person applying out of those kinds of number across the country, boy, that's real stuff competition."
After a months-long national search for a faculty member in the Indian studies department, no qualified Indian applicants turned up. So the contract has been offered to a language teacher in Germany, Birgit Hans. She studied American Indian fiction at Arizona State University.
Dr. Alice Clark, vice president of academic affairs says UND has a lot of work ahead to close the gap in some minority faculty. "Were doing some things, but we really need to be doing a lot more things I would not say were a model yet.
About 200 to 300 Indian students attend UND each year but few make (unreaable text) could be role models for a younger generation of Indians.
Salter says UND not only needs more "zealous recruitment" by the whole academic community, but also enough money to attract the few potentially qualified Indians for faculty posts.
He said, "If I could single out one factor, it'd be our old enemy -- salaries."
Celia Volden, a nursing professor who heads a campus committee on recruitment and retention said several new approaches are being considered in line with a UND strategic planning goal for the '90s: increasing faculty and staff from traditionally under-represented groups.
She said, "We might need to go outside and into business and industry more, rather than just to another university for faculty."
Indians are being targeted, because they're the region's biggest minority group and growing in numbers.
Leigh Jeanotte, director of Native American Programs at UND, thinks job searches -- and perhaps the jobs themselves -- need to be more finely tuned to Indian populations.
The usual advertising in the national Chronicle of Higher Education, based on the East Coast, isn't necessarily seen by a lot of Indians who could be cultivated for college jobs, he said.
Jeanotte said UND could ask for experience in working with minorities in more of its faculty and staff job descriptions.
Another idea from the campus Indian program offices: Provide mentors, or older, more experienced faculty who could help an entry-level minority professor learn what it takes to succeed on campus.
So far, the most concerted efforts for Indians have been in the medical and related health fields:
The nursing college has used federal funds to hire two Indian staff workers for a program to recruit other Indians into nursing education and graduate school. That could later lead to college teaching jobs for them.
The UND family medicine department has lined up a federal grant, too, to recruit and pay the salary of an American Indian physician on the medical school faculty.
Such piecemeat efforts at UND are backdropped by a nationwide emphasis on ethnic diversity in college life, says Clark.
She said, "It takes a lot of change, and we're working on it."