- Associated Press - Friday, October 9, 2015

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Officials at Haskell Indian Nations University have approved plans to consider seeking more autonomy from the federal government by becoming a federally chartered school.

Haskell’s Board of Regents on Thursday approved a resolution to study the possibility of breaking from federal operation to become a federally chartered school instead. The board also approved a move to pursue establishing an endowment association, the Lawrence Journal-World reports (https://bit.ly/1Ls9Pes ).

Haskell President Venida Chenault said Haskell’s role serving Native Americans is vital, but the current operating model is holding the university back.

“The board is taking a very proactive approach to study of and identification of actions that need to be taken on behalf of Haskell,” she said.

Chenault said federally chartered Howard University in Washington could be a possible model for Haskell.

The federal Bureau of Indian Education runs Haskell, as well as Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in New Mexico. Haskell’s federal funding has been flat for years, but federal rules don’t allow Haskell to solicit outside funds.

Haskell also has to go through federal processes for decisions including construction contracts and hiring. School officials say the processes are hard to maneuver and time-consuming.

Nearly 70 percent of Haskell’s budget goes to payroll. Chenault said funding hasn’t gone up with the cost of living, and that Haskell has had to absorb the difference.

The recently revived Haskell Foundation is working privately on the school’s behalf, helping with grant management, marketing and athletics donations.

“Eventually we want to get an endowment secured,” foundation executive director Marisa Mendoza told the board. “But we’re just not at the point to do that yet.”


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, https://www.ljworld.com

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