Former UND faculty member Leander ‘Russ’ McDonald to lead UTTC
No stranger to higher education, former UND faculty member Leander "Russ" McDonald has been named president of United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck. McDonald, who has a doctorate in educational foundations and research, is a member of the ...
No stranger to higher education, former UND faculty member Leander “Russ” McDonald has been named president of United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck.
McDonald, who has a doctorate in educational foundations and research, is a member of the Spirit Lake Tribe in North Dakota, and has served as tribal chairman. He was selected Oct. 24 to take over leadership of the intertribal technical college in Bismarck.
McDonald, 51, taught and guest lectured at UND. He also administered grants and conducted research, serving in the Sociology Department, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Center for Rural Health and the National Resource Center on Native American Aging.
“We were very deliberate in conducting a national search to get the best qualified candidate,” said Tex G. “Red Tipped Arrow” Hall, United Tribes board president. “It came down to five who were qualified with post-doctoral level certification.”
McDonald has also served as vice president of academic affairs at Cankdeska Cikana Community College, in Fort Totten, N.D.
McDonald was involved in published research that centered around Native health care on the Northern Plains.
His background also includes experience in national Native organizations. The board cited his position as Great Plains Area vice president for the National Congress of American Indians as instrumental in budget formulation for Great Plains tribes.
“The future of the college needs a president that is tuned-in to the budget process,” said Hall. “He really stood out in the interview process having that skill as a former chairman.”
During his one-year tenure as Spirit Lake chairman, he lobbied for child safety legislation, pursued reforms in the organizational structure of tribal government, strengthened the tribe’s human resource policies, and pushed for equity in the tribe’s compensation system.
“I think we’re going to see a hardworking, ethical individual” who brings family and spiritual values to the college, said Hall. “He’s someone who cares for all the students and staff. He’s going to represent the college well in the Bismarck/Mandan community.”
McDonald succeeds David M. Gipp, who served as UTTC president for the past 37 years. UTTC Vice President Phil Baird served as the board’s interim president during the selection process, which spanned eight months. Baird will continue as the college’s Vice President of Academic, Career and Technical Education.
McDonald’s selection by the United Tribes board was unanimous. He is expected to begin work this week.