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Diné College Names Roessel Next President

Diné College has named former Bureau of Indian Education director Dr. Charles “Monty” Roessel as its next president.
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Diné College has named Dr. Charles “Monty” Roessel as its next president.

“The decision by the board was a very tough one with three uniquely outstanding candidates. The selection of Dr. Roessel marks a significant milestone in the history of Diné College by having a president with deeply rooted ties to the founding and legacy of the institution. Dr. Roessel has a vested interest, compassion, and leadership to take Diné College to the next level,” Greg Bigman, president of the college’s board of regents, said in a press release.

Roessel formerly served as the director of the Bureau of Indian Education where he oversaw 183 schools and two tribal colleges and universities. As the directors, he spearheaded a $1 billion reform effort that focused on tribal sovereignty, self-determination, and self-governance as a pathway to school improvement. While he was director, the BIE’s budget increased by $143 million.

But, on March 30, 2016, Roessel was demoted from his position as director of the BIE after a report was released from the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General that found he abused his position to intervene in the hiring of a woman with whom he was “rumored to be having a romantic relationship” and in the hiring of a relative to work for the Navajo Nation.

Before working at the BIE, Roessel was superintendent of Rough Rock Community School where he implemented a Navajo language immersion program, improved financial operations, and secured $56 million in funding that resulted in the construction of a new elementary school, dormitories, and renovation of the high school.

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Roessel is also a former adjunct instructor at Diné College, an award-winning author, and an appointed member of the editorial board of the Journal of American Indian Education.

“I thank the board of regents for this opportunity to lead such a distinguished institution and I look forward to working with the faculty and staff of Diné College to further its reputation as the preeminent tribal college in the country,” Roessel said in the release.

Diné College’s interim president, Dr. Martín Miguel Ahumada, applauded Roessel’s selection, saying: “I am delighted that the Diné College board of regents has embraced a true pioneer in Indian education—as well as a seasoned and strong leader who possesses a national-level perspective on tribal schools and colleges—to steward our institution into a very bright future.”

Roessel’s selection marks the end of the board’s two-month search. He will officially become the college’s 17th president on January 3, 2017.

Ahumada served as interim president for a year, and originally joined the college two years ago as provost. Once Roessel comes on as president, he will continue in that role.