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LCC names new coordinator for its Native American student program.

Byline: Matt Cooper The Register-Guard

Lane Community College has a new Native American student adviser four months after critics challenged the makeup of the committee that selected him.

James Florendo, an academic adviser in the Multicultural Affairs office at the University of Oregon, will start Jan. 3 as Native American student program coordinator, Barbara Delansky, director of student life and leadership development, said Monday. He replaces Frank Merrill, who retired earlier this year.

Delansky chaired a committee that was initially criticized for poor representation of Native Americans, but she defended the group and said she's heard no complaints since critics first objected at a board meeting in July.

"Whoever may have had issues with how we were doing it, none of those people showed up at the community forums" to assess candidates, Delansky said.

The committee eventually grew to more than 10 people, including five Native Americans who participated in varying degrees, said Dennis Carr, executive director for human resources.

One critic said the additional Native Americans were an improvement but he remained dissatisfied with Lane's treatment of Native Americans and other minorities.

"The college is not dealing equitably with Native people," said Gifford Tallmadge, a coordinator with LCC's summer academic program for American Indian teens and a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. He said he was impressed by two other candidates but had no opinion of Florendo.

Florendo, a member of the Wasco Nation of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, has lived in Eugene for more than 30 years. He holds a bachelor's degree in sociology and a master of fine arts degree, both from the UO.

Florendo, who did not return phone calls seeking comment, joins a college that has tried to strengthen its commitment to diversity following feedback in recent years that minority students and staff weren't treated appropriately, Delansky said.

She cited the addition of diversity issues to the curriculum, staff training and rapid response to incidents.

There are about 300 Native Americans among 15,000-plus students who take credit classes at LCC, and some observers feel Florendo's hire is pivotal in retaining Native American students at the college.

His duties include community outreach, connecting with tribal officials on student recruitment and retention, student support and the teaching of Native American-based leadership classes. Florendo's salary is $44,000.

"It's really nice we have someone who has been through the school system, through community college, through the Oregon university system, who understands financial aid and scholarships," said committee member Ellen Hansen, president of the Oregon Indian Education Association and education/employment director with the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians.

Don Addison, an LCC teacher of American Indian studies and languages and an elder with the Choctaw Nation, had criticized the committee's makeup but said Monday that he looks forward to "a period where a lot of healing can go on with the whole Indian community and LCC."
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Title Annotation:Higher Education; The committee overcomes criticism of its makeup and hires a current UO adviser
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Dec 7, 2004
Previous Article:Follow-up finds more schools meet criteria.

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