Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

November 19, 2009

Salish Kootenai College Board of Directors announce finalists for President

PABLO — Tuesday, the Board of Directors announced four finalists they will interview for the position of president of Salish Kootenai College, which is located here. The Presidential Search Committee recommended the finalists from a pool of five applicants. All finalists are enrolled members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

The Board of Directors will meet in late December to interview candidates in closed session and will convene early in January to finalize the selection of the new President. The Board will announce their decision immediately following the selection.

The following finalists and their biographies are listed in alphabetical order:

Dr. Vernon Finley, is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and was born and raised on the reservation. His early years consisted of spending much of the time with his grandparents who had a very significant impact on his life. They were fluent speakers of the native languages and practitioners of traditional culture. Much of his worldview and perspective comes from being brought up in their home. His western education consists of graduating from Polson High School, the University of Montana, Oklahoma City University, and The University of Georgia with a high school diploma, Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, Master of Education, and Doctor of Education degrees, respectively. He currently resides in Polson with his wife and two children.

Mr. Kevin Howlett, is a graduate of Dixon High School, the University of Montana, and Harvard University. Mr. Howlett’s background includes over 30 years of professional work in the fields of education, health care and social policy. He is currently the Department Head for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Howlett has also served as the Chief Executive Officer for the U.S. Public Health Service, Flathead Service Unit.

Previous employment has included the Department Head for the Tribal Education Department, where he was instrumental in establishing the Tribes first ever Pupil Instruction Related training day dedicated to the teachers of the seven school districts located on the Flathead Reservation. Mr. Howlett’s career has included services as a School Superintendent at La Push, Washington, and numerous assignments providing educational consultation to a variety of tribal and public education entities.

In addition, to the work in the field of health care and education, Mr. Howlett was twice elected to serve on the Tribal Council for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. He was a member of the Tribal Council that successfully negotiated the Kerr License and eventual Tribal ownership and operation of the Kerr facility.

Mr. Howlett has served on numerous boards and commissions throughout his career. Those include Flathead Basin Commission, Lake County Community Development Board, Two Eagle River School Board, Arlee School Board, State of Montana Gaming Advisory Board, State of Montana Transportation Commission, U.S. Civil Rights Commission - Montana Advisory Council, and the Montana Advisory Council for Indian Education.

Mr. Howlett resides in Arlee with his wife and has two children.

Dr. Luana Ross, received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Oregon. She is the author of many published essays and the award-winning book, “Inventing the Savage”. Dr. Ross has been a leading figure in the movement of Native Americans in higher education for several decades. She was a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Davis. She is currently a professor at the University of Washington, where she serves as the co-director of Native Voices, a graduate film program. Dr. Ross has aided in the production of many films including, “White Shamans, Plastic Medicine Men” and another award-winning film, “A Century of Genocide in the Americas: The Residential School Experience”.

As a trained social scientist, Dr. Ross is actively involved in research. She is a faculty affiliate of the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, a center committed to health and wellness in Native communities. Currently, she is working on two projects: one investigates violence on Tribal College campuses, and another explores digital storytelling as a health intervention in Native communities. Dr. Ross is a core member of the Center for Global Indigenous Health, located at the University of Washington, and is founding member of the Boarding School Healing Project. She is committed to the health of Native women, children, and communities and works with Indigenous scholars, health professionals, and educators around the world.

Dr. Ross is a skilled and committed educator with an absolute belief in the importance of vibrant educational institutions in Indian Country. She has a long-standing commitment to Indian education, and is a widely known and a highly respected academic. She is an active member of the American Association of Indigenous Professors.

Ms. Carmen Taylor, has a lifetime of successful leadership experience in Indian education. Throughout her career, she has been a passionate advocate for tribal control of education and for the integration of culture, language and tribal values throughout educational settings. As an active participant in the Congressional authorization and appropriations processes, she is constantly seeking to improve and expand educational opportunities for students, schools and tribal communities.

Carmen has had success as an administrator in a variety of settings. She directed an Upward Bound Program at the University of Montana and was a Division Chief in the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Indian Education Programs in Washington, D.C. For the last 24 years, she has served as the Executive Director for the National Indian School Board Association (NISBA), an organization that provides advocacy, training and technical assistance to tribal schools, tribes and other organizations. These positions have given her extensive experience in grant and contract management and in preparing and administering budgets.

Since NISBA has had their office on the campus of Salish Kootenai College for 16 years, Carmen has had the unique opportunity to be involved with campus activities and this has provided her with an in-depth perspective and knowledge of the college, its programs, policies, vision for the future, and its challenges. She has served on the Advisory Committees for both the Nursing and Education Departments and has been on the Board for the SKC College Foundation for 15 years.

Carmen represented SKC in the Minority-Serving Institutions Fellows Program funded by the Kellogg Foundation. This was a one-year program that provided an overview of all aspects of higher education leadership. She successfully completed this program in 2005.

Ms. Taylor earned her Master’s in Education from Montana State University. She is the proud mother of one daughter and has twin granddaughters and one grandson.

“We would like to thank the search committee for advancing the names of four highly qualified finalists,” said Mr. Bob Fouty, Chair of the Board of Directors.

“We are appreciative of the involvement and support of faculty, students, community members and Board Members throughout this process. Everyone should be pleased with the outcome of this extensive effort.”

The committee was comprised of nine individuals representing the Board of Directors of Salish Kootenai College, faculty, business, students, and community members of the Flathead Reservation.

About Salish Kootenai College: Grounded in tradition, charging into the future, the mission of Salish Kootenai College is to provide quality postsecondary educational opportunities for Native Americans, locally and from throughout the United States.

The College will strive to provide opportunities for individual self-improvement to promote and help maintain the cultures of the Confederated Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Salish Kootenai College has been under the visionary leadership of Dr. Joseph McDonald since the founding in 1977. We move forward into the 21st century from the firm foundation he established over the past 32 years.

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