Joseph McDonald Named New President of College Consortium

Nov 15th, 1990 | By | Category: 2-3: Management Across Cultures, Tribal College News
By Paul Boyer

New consortium President Joseph McDonald

Dr. Joseph McDonald has been named the new president of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) for 1991.

McDonald, president of Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana, will fill the position for the second time. He also headed the consortium in 1986.

Also elected to positions on the board are: Fort Peck Community College President James Shanley, who will continue as vice president; Stone Child Community College President Peggy Nagel, who becomes the new treasurer; and Nebraska Indian College President Thelma Thomas, who will be secretary. Past President David Archambault of Standing Rock College will be member-at-large.

McDonald will lead the consortium during a period of transition. During his tenure pressing questions about growth and federal funding will be addressed.

One concern for the consortium, McDonald says, is a new federal requirement that will limit student access to government grants and loans. Put into effect on January 1, language in the Budget Act and the Education Appropriations Act is intended to limit the default rate on student loans by requiring students without a high school diploma, or the equivalent, to take and pass an exam before they are eligible for financial assistance from the federal government’s Pell Grants and Guaranteed Student Loans.

By giving an exam, it was believed, students who are less likely to succeed could be identified and weeded-out before any money is given. But, says McDonald, the new requirement could do great harm to the nation: “We’re going to see a groundswell of uneducated people throughout the nation. We’re facing a critical work force shortage. By denying the right to college we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.”

The law targets proprietary institutions with poor completion rates. But all colleges, from state institutions to tribal colleges, are included. These colleges often provide access to students without a high school degree to a variety of vocational and job preparation programs. At Salish Kootenai College, many of these students also take and pass the high school equivalency exam in the process.

McDonald also plans to focus on the continuing effort to bring federal appropriations up to the level of what has been authorized by Congress. This year Congress approved a 43 percent increase in what tribal colleges receive per Indian Student Count, raising it to about $3,000. But this is still far below the $5,820 that the colleges have been authorized to receive through the Tribally Controlled Community College Act.

The new board members were selected at the October meeting of the consortium in San Diego. Terms are for one year and are renewable for a second.

McDonald has been president of Salish Kootenai College since 1978. Located in the Mission Valley of the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana, the college has over 600 students and is recognized as a successful and innovative institution.

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