Haskell Indian Nations University has new interim president

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Story updated at 2:19 p.m. Friday, May 7:

Following a recent faculty vote of no confidence in its top administrator and an investigation, Haskell Indian Nations University has a new interim president, the student newspaper reports.


Tamarah Pfeiffer (Diné) will immediately assume the role of acting president of the university, The Indian Leader first reported Friday.

Faculty voted unanimously to approve a resolution of no confidence in recent President Ronald Graham in April, and earlier this month followed suit with another resolution about Vice President for Academics Melanie Daniel, the Times reported.

Among many listed concerns from faculty, some of Graham’s actions in his first year have drawn public attention and criticism from advocates for freedom of speech. Some have accused him of trying to silence a student journalist and censor faculty and staff members.

Sources told the Times that a team from the Bureau of Indian Education was coming to Haskell to begin an investigation on April 12, and within a few days, investigators said they would have a report the following week.

Pfeiffer is a member of the Senior Executive Service and BIE Senior Leadership team, according to an email that went out to faculty, shared with the Times. She’s the BIE’s chief academic officer and she has experience in secondary and post-secondary education, according to the email, which came from the special assistant to the president Friday afternoon.

According to a July 2015 email newsletter from the BIE, “Pfeiffer’s career as an educator encompasses more than 35 years as a teacher and administrator in public, grant and contract schools. Prior to working at Alamo Navajo Community School, Pfeiffer served from 2006-2009 as High School Principal of the Rough Rock Community School on the Navajo Nation Reservation in Chinle, AZ.”

Graham’s status with the university was not immediately clear Friday. The Times was told to direct requests for comment to a media email through the Board of Indian Affairs, but those emails have gone unanswered.

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