NAP searches for new leadership

by Carol Lee | 6/29/95 5:00am

After the search to find a permanent head of the Native American Program failed at the end of last term, the College is juggling interim directors and preparing to reopen its search later this summer.

John Sirois, who served as acting director this year, left the position Wednesday to go to the Coleville Reservation in Washington state, where he will work as a paralegal. He will be replaced Saturday by visiting film studies Instructor Michael Hanitchak '73, who also teaches Native American Studies.

Hanitchak said he was approached by Dean of the College Lee Pelton and Senior Associate Dean of the College Dan Nelson to replace Sirois as acting director.

The program, which the Dean of the College's office has charged with advising Dartmouth's 150 Native American students, has been without a permanent director since Leisha Conners left for her home in Colorado at the end of the 1994 academic year.

The first search, which began in February, was aborted when two of the top four candidates withdrew their applications for personal reasons, Hanitchak said. The committee had the most interest in hiring those two candidates, he said.

The search committee was headed by Nelson and included Assistant Dean of the College Sylvia Langford, Anthropology Professor Deborah Nichols, Hanitchak, Sequoyah Simermeyer '97 and Tracy Canard '96. This same committee will also oversee the new search.

The program needs a new director because of a lack of Native American faculty members or administrators at the College who could currently serve as mentors for students, Hanitchak said.

Hanitchak said the new director should be "a cross between a counselor and an administrator." Hanitchak said some of the duties of the director will include counseling Native American students on academic, social, and cultural concerns, serving as a liaison to faculty and administration, and networking with similar Native American programs at other colleges and universities.

The director should have a masters degree or equivalent in the fields of education, sociology, or psychology -- or comparable experience in counseling Native American students, Hanitchak said.

"We're pretty open to people who are qualified for the position in ways that are outside of the university experience," Hanitchak said.

The search seems to be complicated by the example set by Colleen Larimore, who served as director from 1989 to 1993. Hanitchak said with Larimore's expansion of fundraising, student recruitment and programs, the new director "will have a hard act to follow."

"The students were pretty savvy about what they were looking for," Hanitchak said.

He said approachability and advocacy skills were high on the students' list of qualities they sought in a new director.

Simermeyer said the new director should be able to work with the administration and lend support to Native American students.

Hanitchak said the search committee hopes to hire the new director by the end of next spring or summer.

Nelson could not be reached for comment.

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