PABLO – Salish Kootenai College has a new president.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the college’s board of directors named Robert DePoe III to lead the school, widely considered one of the most successful tribal colleges in the nation.
DePoe, a Ronan native and member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, comes to the school from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, where he is presently an Indian self-determination specialist in St. George, Utah.
He replaces Luana Ross, who abruptly resigned in October, citing “irreconcilable visions” between herself and some members of the board.
Ross, who came to SKC from the faculty at the University of Washington, had been president for just over two years.
DePoe served as education director for the Paiute Tribe of Utah from 2003 to 2010, and also has been a trainer and program manager at the Western Community Policing Institute.
He holds a master’s degree in professional communication from Southern Utah University, and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in sociology. DePoe has been an advisory member of Utah State’s Board of Education, where he served as chairman of the Coalition of Minorities Advisory Committee.
“The board and executive team are looking forward to a long, successful and prosperous future for SKC under our new president,” Jim Durglo, chairman of SKC’s board of directors, said in announcing the appointment.
DePoe won out over a field that initially was reduced to five finalists, and then three.
On Tuesday morning, DePoe was joined by finalists Steve Dupuis and Sandra Boham at a public question-and-answer session on the school’s 140-acre campus in Pablo.
Dupuis heads SKC’s Indigenous Math and Science Institute. Boham is a candidate for a Doctor of Education degree at the University of Montana.
Following the Q-and-A, the board went into a meeting that stretched into Wednesday before its members settled on DePoe.
Eliminated from the running earlier were two other finalists, Carmen Taylor, the dean of academic affairs at Aaniiih Nakoda College on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, and Gyda Swaney, a faculty member at the University of Montana.
Elaine Frank has been serving as interim president since Ross’ sudden resignation. She was not a candidate for the permanent job.