NWIC president moves on to new leadership role in Indian Education

Cheryl Crazy Bull to be succeeded by Justin Guillory, NWIC dean of academics

Cheryl Crazy Bull, who has served as Northwest Indian College (NWIC) president for nearly 10 years – during a period of significant growth at the college – will leave in August for Denver, Colorado, to fill the soon to be vacated seat of American Indian College Fund president and CEO. Dr. Justin Guillory, dean of academics at NWIC, was selected by the college’s Board of Trustees to take over as president upon her departure.

“Justin Guillory is a good choice for the next president of NWIC,” Crazy Bull said. “The Board looked for an individual who is inspiring and can motivate others, and Justin has shown that he can do that. The Lummi community and our college community were very welcoming to me and are very supportive. I hope that the same welcome and support will be given to Justin in his new role as NWIC President.” 

Crazy Bull, whose Lakota name is Wacinyanpi Win (They Depend on Her), has left a tremendous mark on the college. Under her leadership, the college has grown from an associate degree and certificate granting institution, to one that now offers bachelor’s degrees, the first two of which are Native Environmental Science and Native Studies Leadership. More degrees and continued expansion of the college’s outreach and services are planned under the new leadership.

Guillory will continue the strategic direction established by the president and the NWIC Board of Trustees, Crazy Bull said.

In her time at NWIC, Crazy Bull has served as the primary fundraiser for the college’s $44 million capital campaign, which was initiated in 2005 and has resulted in seven new buildings, including student housing and childcare at the Lummi campus, one new facility at an extended campus site and more than $3 million in grants for endowments, scholarships and program development.

NWIC Board of Trustees Chair, Kristin Kinley, said Crazy Bull has been instrumental to NWIC’s success with student retention, with making student success a priority, and with bringing financial stability. She has also helped create a team environment for staff at NWIC.

“President Crazy Bull has been a tremendous asset to NWIC in many ways in her 10-year commitment to the college,” Kinley said. “I am personally and eternally grateful that President Cheryl Crazy Bull came into our lives here at NWIC and the board wishes her well on her new journey.”

Crazy Bull has spent her entire career working with tribal students and tribally controlled institutions.

“I believe deeply in the role of tribal colleges as institutions where tribal identity is honored and where our inherent rights are promoted,” Crazy Bull said. “I look forward to new opportunities for myself working in Indian education at the national level with the American Indian College Fund. I will miss being in a position to so directly affect student success in the classroom and on the college campus and to be able to help tribal people assume positions of educational leadership.”

Her new position will take Crazy Bull, who is Sicangu Lakota from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, and her husband Alex Prue, an NWIC instructor, closer to their families.

“Alex and I will miss all the friends and family that we have here,” Crazy Bull said. “But there are few opportunities to work with a national organization that serves all of the tribal colleges and universities and their students.”

While Crazy Bull will undoubtedly be missed, Kinley is confident that the college will continue moving in the direction she has helped propel it.

“She has built a strong administrative team at NWIC that is capable of moving forward into the future with or without her,” Kinley said. “My personal ‘thank you’ to not only my colleague, but my friend, for bringing us forward into this positive future.”

Like Crazy Bull, Guillory is focused on student success and on building the college even further as a tribal institution and as not only a four-year college, but also as a provider of workforce education.

“The Board of Trustees would like to take the time to welcome Dr. Justin Guillory as our President-elect,” Kinley said. “He has the passion and drive for student success and he has demonstrated this in his work. The Board of Trustees has been pleased with the path that the NWIC has been on, with student success being our primary focus, and feels that Justin will continue to keep us on this positive journey. We are excited to build our working relationship with Dr. Guillory and support him and the NWIC employee team.”

Guillory said it was a tremendous honor to be asked to help carry on the vision and mission of the college, which is to promote indigenous self-determination and knowledge, and continue to advance NWIC’s Native student success agenda. Still, he had mixed feelings about being offered the position of president because he was still processing the fact that Crazy Bull is leaving the college. 

“It goes without saying that she will certainly be missed,” Guillory said. “I am just thankful that I had the opportunity to work alongside her the last few years. I see this new position as an opportunity to continue on our path of providing opportunities for our students to learn the skills, knowledge and values to be leaders in their tribal communities.”

The college has a combination of seasoned and emerging leaders who are deeply committed to student success at all levels throughout the institution, Guillory said, from the support staff, faculty, administration to the Board of Trustees. 

“I am committed to advancing the Tribal College movement, and I look forward to working with our college faculty and staff to ensure that educational success is within the reach of all NWIC students,” Guillory said.

Guillory has more than 11 years of direct work experience in higher education, eight of which were at NWIC. He served the college from 2001 to 2004 as site manager at NWIC’s campus at Nez Perce in Idaho. He then I left the college to pursue a PhD, and in 2007 returned to NWIC to serve as the dean of extended campuses and dean of academics and distance learning at the main campus in Bellingham on the Lummi reservation.

Guillory has a diverse ethnic background. He is a direct descendent of the Nez Perce tribe, and has African American and Hispanic ancestry. He was raised on the Nez Perce Indian reservation in Lapwai, Idaho, until his parents moved to Tacoma. Guillory was given the Lakota name, Woksape Waste (Good Knowledge) by his hunka (adopted) family, Clara and the late Paul High Elk family from Thunder Butte, South Dakota.

Guillory played college football and completed a bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Sports Management at Eastern Washington University. He has a master’s degree in Education Administration and a PhD in Higher Education Administration from Washington State University (WSU).

While at WSU, Guillory served as the mentor program coordinator/graduate assistant in the Native American Student Center within the Office of Multicultural Student Services at WSU.  One of those years included serving as the interim Native American Retention Counselor. His doctoral dissertation focused on the experiences of successful Native students in higher education and how they used education to give back to tribal communities.   

Justin and his wife, Sunny (Walker) Guillory, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and NWIC’s financial literacy coordinator, have two sons and one daughter.

“I felt humbled and truly blessed to be considered for this position,” Guillory said. “My wife, children and my parents were very supportive of this opportunity.”