By Kenedy Williams, Staff Writer
The Alaska Native Success Initiative committee recommends a multi-faceted approach to diversify and increase Alaska Native student, staff, and faculty recruitment, identify the key barriers to recruitment, establish coordination with tribal organizations, and eliminate institutional racism.
The Initiative was put forth by the Board of Regents. The goal is to have the UA student, staff, and faculty population represent Alaska’s population as a whole. UAS, UAF, and UAA each have an Alaska Native Success Initiative committee. Together, this initiative will develop an anti-racist vision statement to establish a standard for the UA system.
The most recent report, released June 2021, entails key UAS findings, goals and supporting actions for attracting and retaining Alaska Native students and faculty, and institutional changes in vision, leadership, and messaging.
Even in times of low enrollment and retention, UAS has maintained its status as a Native American Serving Nontribal Institution based on 20% Alaska Native student enrollment. UAS is one of fewer than 100 higher education institutions with this status.
Additionally, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities has recognized UAS for how Alaska Native cultures and studies enrich the university.
ANSI found that cultural engagement, student belongingness, and other such factors increase retention and graduation rates of American Indian/ Alaska Native students.
The committee also found that academic success is rooted in the recognition of diverse and unique cultures and experiences of American Indian/Alaska Native students. The finalized report will be presented in November to the Board of Regents.
“I want to see front and center an increase in Alaska Native faculty and staff hire and that it be an articulated goal,” said Ronalda Cadiente Brown, Associate Vice Chancellor for Alaska Native Programs.
The President’s office has hired Pearl Brower to work with UA Interim President Pat Pitney, and the ANSI committees from all three sister campuses. Brower will be Senior Advisor for Alaska Native Success, Institutional Diversity and Student Engagement, according to UA press release. So far, Cadiente Brown has met with Brower three times.
In an email to Juneau employees on Indigenous People’s Day, Chancellor Karen Carey said, “ We are so fortunate to live and work on the ancestral lands of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples. With our work on the Alaska Native Success Initiative (special thanks to Ronalda) we have a number of goals we want to accomplish including retention of our Alaska
Native students and making sure our faculty and staff are represented by Indigenous peoples.” Carey has been actively participating in ANSI committee meetings.
ANSI Committee Details
According to Cadiente Brown, the next step for the committee is to determine areas that have unmet needs, like budget appropriations. Right now the committee is putting report recommendations into practice.
Cadiente Brown and Brower will share more about the report and ANSI work at Evening at Egan on Friday, Nov. 12.
Cadiente Brown said SEAlaska Corporation board chairman Joe Nelson will join the committee as co- chair. Nelson is a former UAS Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Mangement.
“The public accounting of this progress is what I anticipate this will bring to the system,” Cadiente Brown said.
She said the ANSI committee may survey faculty and students to ensure the initiative is meeting expectations.
“I see that this report is continuing to affirm what we are doing, and then ideally we will use it as a measurement so that the work is not driven by one person or one committee but owned as part of the infrastructure of the statewide program and UAS program,” Cadiente Brown said.