Kansas college president accused of muting free speech fired

May 13, 2021 GMT

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The embattled president of Haskell Indian Nations University has been fired following an internal investigation into complaints that he violated the free speech rights of faculty and students.

Ronald Graham, who began his presidency in May 2020, was dismissed Friday after the Bureau of Indian Education sent a team to the Lawrence campus last month to do an administrative review, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

Graham, an Army veteran, said in a statement to the newspaper that he took an oath to protect the U.S. Constitution.

“I have been accused of violating a student’s 1st Amendment rights and now those of the faculty. I would never do this intentionally or otherwise. I love our flag and this country and fought to protect it,” Graham said.


The Faculty Senate unanimously declared last month it had no confidence in Graham, alleging he had shown disdain for the free speech rights of students and faculty and a disregard for academic freedom.

The editor of Haskell’s student newspaper, Jared Nelly, sued after Graham sent a directive to him detailing what he could report and write about in the paper. Graham rescinded that order in January.

Tamarah Pfeiffer, a leader in the federal government’s Bureau of Indian Education, is acting president.