United Tribes pres encouraged about Indian committee member 6-29-07

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - United Tribes Technical College President David Gipp says he is encouraged by the prospect of an American Indian member of the committee searching for a new University of North Dakota president.

The state Board of Higher Education is to meet by conference call Tuesday to discuss the issue.

“If the entire board votes in agreement during the special meeting on July 3, it will restore faith in the prospect that the board works on behalf of all citizens of the state,” Gipp said in a statement this week.

Gipp said the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission unanimously approved a resolution last week urging the board to reconsider its earlier decision not to have an Indian member of the search committee. The resolution was sent to Gov. John Hoeven, Gipp said.

Hoeven's spokesman, Don Larson, said Hoeven called Board of Higher Education President John Q. Paulsen on Monday to support the idea. Paulsen said he already was in the process of reversing his earlier decision not to add an Indian member.

“I get lots of advice from lots of people, and I appreciate every time I get advice from the governor or the Indian Affairs Commission or both,” he said. “So, I don't want to belittle their advice in any way. But I was already in the process of clearly thinking this through in a way that was taking me in a direction away from my original decision.”

Paulsen earlier this month had said he had “absolute confidence in the committee to choose a president without regard to race, color or gender.”

Hoeven also suggested Paulsen seek Gipp's advice on a suitable choice for the new committee member. Paulsen said he has discussed the matter with Gipp.

Current UND President Charles Kupchella is retiring next year.

Some Indians oppose UND's Fighting Sioux nickname. The NCAA has barred UND from hosting postseason tournaments because of the name, which the association has deemed “hostile and abusive.” UND is challenging the decision in court.
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