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American Indian Graduate Center's future secured

By La Monica Everett-Haynes
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
January 26, 2000
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Although the University of Arizona's American Indian Studies Program denies intentions to divide the Native Indian Graduate Center among other UA programs, the center's director said he is concerned that the program's need-assessment evaluation may be a retaliation.

The evaluations are being conducted in order to determine whether the center is being sufficiently utilized

"Surveys can be useful to detect value of service (and) usage - I understand all that - but given the history of what I consider reprisals, I am suspicious," said Glenn Johnson, director of the American Indian Graduate Center.

Johnson said the survey seems inappropriate now because it is being conducted during the beginning of the semester instead of at the end, when all students will have had a chance to utilize its services.

"They (AISP) told me not to do any academic seminars while the survey is going on and 39 percent of the students surveyed will have not had a chance to experience the full opportunity of the center," Johnson said.

However, AISP's associate director, Mary Jo Fox, said Johnson's belief that he was instructed not to conduct any seminars was simply a misunderstanding.

"What we asked Glenn (Johnson) to do was to find out what the departments were doing - what kind of services the department offered - because if the departments were offering services, then the students should really do it in the department," Fox said.

"We didn't say they had to (go to their department)," she added. "If orientations are being given in that department, that is where the students need to be going."

As for the 39 percent exception, AISP Director Joseph Stauss said their ballots will be thrown out.

"The survey form is set up to see if the students are new or not - the new students will be taken out by statistical controls," Stauss said.

In addition to the survey, Johnson said his current disposition also involves past events, where funds belonging to the center were mismanaged, resulting in the possibility of demotion.

"There were unintentional honest mistakes that could happen to anyone," said Johnson about the money mismanagement. "Mrs. (Elisabeth) Mitchell has been with the graduate college since about 1993 ... she (donates) every 13 to 14 months."

Johnson, who was the director at the time, said the problems occurred sometime in 1996, when a check made by Mitchell was accidentally deposited into an unknown UA account. The $5,792 error was detected in 1998.

The Mitchell Fund holds emergency funds to be administered at the discretion of the director, Johnson said, adding that the funds have been used to help students prevent evictions and to help with medical problems.

Johnson said he felt AISP was retaliating last semester because it suggested he be demoted and the center allocated or dismantled.

However, Stauss said those intentions were last semester's woes. The survey being administered this semester, Stauss said, is merely a need-assessment evaluation.

"He raised concerns and we addressed all of his concerns - (his current concerns) makes no sense to me," Stauss said. "The center has never been evaluated in the past seven years or so."

Stauss said the center was placed under the management of AISP by the interim dean of the Graduate College, art professor Dennis Jones, during the summer.

Although Stauss could not provide a definite answer to whether the center would ever be divided, he said its location is permanent for the time being.

"The survey data will be used with a whole list of data," Stauss said. "I don't have any pre-disposed (information) about it being dismantled or allocated."

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