Southern Utah University alumnus Robert DePoe III was formally installed as Salish Kootenai College president in Pablo, Montana on Wednesday, November 20.
A native of the Flathead Reservation in Montana, the same reservation that Salish Kootenai College (SKC) resides on, the newly inaugurated DePoe earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees at SUU.
“It is an honor to lead this tribal college on the reservation that I grew up on and to give back to the community that raised me,” said DePoe. “Ever since I left to begin my education at SUU I have searched for a way to return and help the Flathead Reservation and being inaugurated as SKC’s president is noblest way I can do that.”
It is this desire to assist tribal communities that DePoe shaped his entire education at SUU.
While working toward his master’s degree in professional communication, DePoe developed training programs for tribal communities in southern Utah. It was with this experience that DePoe then went on to be an education director with the Paiute Tribe in Cedar City and then a contract specialist with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in St. George, Utah.
It is through his involvement with tribal communities and receiving a master’s degree in professional communication that Matthew Barton, director of SUU’s masters of arts in professional communication and one of DePoe’s professors, said prepared DePoe for his tenure as SKC’s president.
“Presidents need to know how to deliver messages to several audiences, whether to students, administrators, employees, or community members, through our program DePoe learned how to do that effectively,” said Barton. “He has a special knack of understanding people and he was able to fine tune those skills during his undergraduate and graduates years at SUU.”
Among his top priorities during his time as president of SKC, DePoe hopes to increase enrollment, ensure all programs are beneficial to the community, and give more students employable skills.
Believing that his education was a large component to his success as being selected as the new president, DePoe encourages all T-Birds and SKC students to continue to develop their skills and talents. “It was small steps that eventually qualified me to receive this position, but because I didn’t let opportunities pass me by I am now giving back my community in a way I never thought I could.”
He added, “Continue to develop marketable skills so that when you are called to serve your community or your family you have the ability to do so.”