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Jan 13, 2014 08:12 AM EST

Haskell’s Long-Time Employee Named School’s New President

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Dr. Venida S. Chenault, a long-term employee at the Haskell Indian Nations University, has been named the school's new president, effective Jan.12, 2014. Chenault succeeds Chris Redman, who resigned in May after heading the institution for two years.

Chenault, a 56-year-old Lawrence resident, had been serving as the school's vice president of academic affairs since 2004. Her association with Haskell began as a student in the fall of 1975 and spring of 1984. She left the institute to pursue bachelors in social work in 1986, a master's in social work in 1990 and a Ph.D. in philosophy in 2004, all from University of Kansas.

Chenault returned to campus to serve as a faculty member of social work, American Indian studies and addiction until 2004.

"Dr. Venida Chenault is an experienced administrator whose leadership at Haskell Indian Nations University and strong commitment to American Indian higher education is well-known among her students and colleagues," Dr. Charles M. Roessel, director of the federal Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), said in a statement.

Roessel said that Chenault's acquaintance with the campus and her admiration and vision for the institution makes her the right choice for the school's top administrative job.  

Chenault always dreamed of serving as the school's president given its dedication towards Indian education.

"I have witnessed from multiple vantage points the difference that Haskell makes in the lives of our students, and to see that potential realized is one of the most amazing experiences," Chenault said, Lawrence-Journal World reports.

One of Chenault's immediate responsibilities will be to ready the school for the next accreditation review during 2014-2015 academic year. Other goals include improving Haskell's retention and graduation rates among others.

"Our search for new leadership at Haskell has led to a strong and able education professional, a person who has long been committed to this institution, and who will work towards its constant betterment," Kevin Washburn, assistant secretary of Indian Affairs and a member of the Chickasaw Nation said.

Chenault has received several awards, including Haskell Outstanding Alumni of the Year (Spring 2009) and the Crystal Eagle Indigenous Leadership Award (Spring 2005).

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