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Native Students Did Not Want Reed

NAD CandidatesA.jpgFollowing the controversy that we discussed yesterday surrounding around the tribal bona fides of Susan M. Taffe Reed after her selection as Director of the Native American Program, a student active in the Native American community at Dartmouth has written in to lament the flawed selection process that led to Reed’s appointment. The student reports that Virgil Moorehead Jr., Susan M. Taffe Reed, and Mark L.M. Blair ‘94 (individual resumé are linked to the respective names) came to campus between July 21-24 vying for the job:

Dartmouth brought three candidates for the Director of the College’s Native American Program, and I had the opportunity to watch them each give a presentation that was open to the community. Additionally, a large group of Native students and I also had dinner with each candidate individually at the Native American House in a more intimate setting.

The importance of these dinners was stressed by administrators. Supposedly, the input of Native students would be an important factor in the NAP director hiring process — even so far as being stressed as the most important criterion, since the students would ultimately be the people directly working with and benefiting from the NAP director.

Disregarding the matter of identity for the moment, I’m also attaching the CVs of the top three candidates for this position which were given to students during the selection process. If you look through them you will find one compelling candidate and he wasn’t selected despite Native students expressing that he was our first choice — Virgil Moorehead. Despite his stellar credentials and unique perspective as a clinical psychologist, he was not chosen.

I was honestly shocked to learn that Susan Taffe Reed was selected for the position. Anyone can take the time to read through the candidates CVs and probably come to the same conclusion that Reed was the least compelling candidate for this position in terms of experience, not even accounting for the controversy around her identity!

The funny thing is that after the last candidate dinner, all the Native students discussed the pros and cons of each candidate, and we narrowed the candidates down to Virgil and Susan. Students felt comfortable with Susan because she seemed more culturally attuned and we generally liked her personality, and given that the majority of NAD is comprised of women, a woman candidate was seen as a plus.

On the other hand, we all agreed that Virgil clearly had more experience for the position, and we felt that if given the choice between these two candidates, we would prefer Virgil because of this experience. The recent controversy around Susan Taffe Reed makes this all the more frustrating given that she wasn’t even our top candidate for the position and the primary reasons we liked her (despite a lack of experience for the position) are being called into question.

One has to wonder about the sincerity of a selection process that involves students, then cuts them out of decision-making, and leaves them to learn from the press that their counsel was not heeded. Following the misguided appointment of Inge-Lise Ameer, questions should be raised about both the rigor of procedures and the overall wisdom of hiring in the Provost’s office.

Addendum: The Facebook page of the Native American Alumni at Dartmouth (NAAAD) contains many expressions of displeasure at Reed’s appointment.

Addendum: The Valley News has picked up the story.


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