President Obama selected Washburn for the position in early August, saying the Indian law expert has “demonstrated knowledge and dedication throughout (his) career.”
Washburn told the Journal Saturday that he was honored by the appointment and ready to tackle complex challenges facing Indian Country.
“There is a positive agenda in the administration and at the department and I’m looking forward to seeing how I fit into that agenda,” Washburn said.
Washburn has served as dean of the UNM law school since June 2009. Prior to that, he served as the Rosenstiel Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law from 2008 to 2009 and as an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School from 2002 to 2008. From 2007 to 2008, Mr. Washburn was the Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School. Previously, he served as General Counsel for the National Indian Gaming Commission from 2000 to 2002, and as an Assistant United States Attorney in Albuquerque. Washburn earned a B.A. from the University of Oklahoma and a J.D. from Yale Law School.
Washburn sailed through his Senate confirmation process racking up near-unanimous bi-partisan praise for his professional accomplishments and interpersonal style. His nomination received no dissenting votes.
New Mexico’s U.S. senators praised the president’s pick.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said Washburn was a strong choice by the Obama administration.
“In Kevin Washburn, President Obama has found the right person to fill the position of Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs,” Bingaman said. ” The Senate’s quick approval of his nomination demonstrates the broad support he has in Washington and around the country,” Bingaman said. “Kevin understands the pressing needs of Indian Country, and he brings the experience and enthusiasm needed to meet those challenges. I congratulate Kevin on his new position and stand ready to help him in any way I can.”
“UNM’s School of Law has flourished under the direction of Kevin Washburn,” said Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M, and a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said when Obama announced the nomination in August..