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Caldwell Named Interim President of College of Menominee Nation


Chris Caldwell

The College of Menominee Nation’s Board of Trustees has announced the appointment Chris Caldwell as Interim President of CMN. Caldwell, a graduate of the College and enrolled member of the Menominee Tribe, had served as Director of CMN’s Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) for the past eight years.


Caldwell began his academic journey in higher education with an Associate Degree in Sustainable Development from CMN. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Environment and Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Nelson Institute, and also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resources from UW-Madison and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and Policy from UW-Green Bay.


In an initial meeting with faculty and staff, Caldwell called for continued attention to operational refinement and the development of new initiatives, including academic degrees and technical diploma offerings that are on the horizon for CMN. He shared his approach to work at the College as “a ‘kin-centric’ reference to the Menominee forest experience of caring for the land so the land cares for us.” Its relationship to the College, he added, is that “we care for the Institution so the Institution can care for us.”


Prior to his leadership role at SDI, Caldwell worked from 2005 until 2012 as Tribal Resources Director/Compliance and Enforcement Officer for the Menominee Tribe. His earlier career included positions as a forest products technician with the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory in Madison; student and intern with the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs-NCCE; and timber marker/forestry technician with Menominee Tribal Enterprises.



In the scholarly arena, Caldwell has done academic and applied research and publications on topics including forest ecology, climate change, and the Menominee theoretical model of sustainability. His participation with advisory boards and committees and leadership in planning numerous programs, conferences and workshops has delivered learning on these same topics to students, tribal communities and the general public. Earlier this year Caldwell and a Michigan State University colleague were awarded MSU’s Community Engagement Scholarship Award and the University’s Distinguished Partnership Award for Community Engaged Research.


The announcement of Caldwell’s appointment was made Feb. 24 by Gary Frechette, Trustee chairperson, on behalf of himself and Board members Shannon Chapman, Lori Corn, Michael Delabreau, Drew Lacefield, and Jesse Waukau. Frechette cited Caldwell for “excellent work as Director of the Sustainable Development Institute” and commended his Board colleagues for “valuing education and the success of the community.”


Caldwell is the fourth person to lead CMN since its inception in January 1993 under the leadership of Dr. Verna Fowler. The College is an accredited baccalaureate-level institution chartered by the Menominee People. Alumni number more than 1,200 individuals holding CMN academic degrees and technical diplomas. More than 40 per cent of all graduates are enrolled or descendant Menominee and 70 percent in total are affiliated with American Indian tribes.