LUMMI RESERVATION - For the first time in nearly 10 years, Northwest Indian College has a new president.
Justin Guillory, former dean of academics and distance learning for the college, began serving in the top post July 27.
The 37-year-old replaces Cheryl Crazy Bull, who has been appointed president and CEO of the Denver-based American Indian College Fund.
She had been the college's president since October 2002.
"I'm very excited and humbled and honored to be asked to serve as the president of Northwest Indian College," Guillory said Tuesday, Aug. 7. "I want to thank president Cheryl Crazy Bull - who leaves a lot to me, who has meant a lot to me on a professional and personal level. She's really taken the college to new heights and deserves a lot of credit."
Under Crazy Bull's leadership, the college based on Lummi Reservation went from a two-year to a four-year institution, and officials launched a multimillion-dollar construction of new buildings as part of the college's growth.
Guillory also pointed to Crazy Bull's focus on what it means to be a tribal college, to serve tribal communites and to provide a culturally based education to its students.
"Cheryl was visionary in that," he said. "I just want to continue to move that forward, and focus on student success. That's where my heart is, and that's where my intention is."
Guillory held several posts at Northwest Indian College before beginning his tenure as dean of academics and distance learning in 2008. He hesitated when asked to describe his accomplishments as dean, explaining that he was uncomfortable talking about "my accomplishments."
"I describe it as our accomplishments," he said. "I don't work in isolation."
Guillory said he and others working as a team helped implement the college's first bachelor degree, in native environmental science; helped develop its second, in native studies leadership; and strengthened the college's relationship with its extended campus sites.
Northwest Indian College has six sites at tribal locations in Washington and Idaho, where students can take classes in person or through distance learning. Guillory had managed those sites.
In his first days as president, Guillory has been busy organizing sit-downs with program and department leaders, saying he wanted to listen, gather information and see the college with new eyes.
"I believe good leaders are also good learners," he said, also referring to what he described as his collaborative leadership style that focuses on building relationships.
He said he wanted to continue building on the college's strong foundation, noting that it is entering the third year of a seven-year strategic plan.
"My job is to help us keep the momentum going," Guillory said. "In order for me to help keep us moving in the right direction, I want to listen and learn where everyone is at in terms of their priorities."
Guillory earned his master's degree in educational administration at Washington State University, as well as a doctorate in higher education administration, in which his dissertation focused on the success of native students in higher education and how they used education to give back to native communities.
He worked on the Nez Perce Reservation in Lapwai, Idaho, where he managed Northwest Indian College's site there. He also served as dean of extended campuses at the college before being promoted to dean of academics and distance learning.
As president, Guillory said he will focus on the college's mission to promote indigenous self-determination and knowledge.
"I feel like tribal colleges are best positioned to really turn that paradigm, that our native students don't have to give up their culture to be successful academically," he said. "But, in fact, culture is deeply rooted in what it means to be a positive and successful person, in order to be leaders in tribal communities."
Kristin Kinley, board chair of Northwest Indian College, praised Guillory for his "extensive background in education" and for his "grasp of every component within Northwest Indian College."
"He's very student-oriented and student-based. That's what the board was looking for," Kinley said. "He's going to be a great president."
Guillory, who is of Nez Perce descent, and his wife, Sunny Guillory, have three children, ages 5 to 11.
Sunny Guillory, who is of Lakota descent, works at the college as the financial literacy coordinator.
Reach KIE RELYEA at email@example.com or call 715-2234.