MSU Native American Studies to expand student success programming and services

By Carol Schmidt, MSU Press Office

BOZEMAN — Services that help make Montana State University a home for Native American and Alaska Native students will expand soon, MSU officials announced Friday, January 21, 2022.

the Department of Native American Studies and his Alaska Native Student Success Services increase services that help make MSU comfortable for Indigenous students, according to Walter Fleming head of the department of Native American studies. The additional programming is made possible by a $2.75 million grant from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies. Fleming calls the funding a once-in-a-generation gift that will change the level of services MSU can provide its Native American community.

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MSU faculty, staff, and students raise two ceremonial teepees that have become prominent symbols on the MSU campus. The Department of Native American Studies and its Native American and Alaska Native Student Success Services will expand services to students and their families, making the campus a home away from home with a $2.75 million grant dollars from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.

The expansion is the latest of several good news for MSU’s Native American community. This fall, the university opened its new American Indian Hall, an architecturally stunning building that took more than 16 years to plan, finance and build. MSU also had a record number of Native American/Alaska Native students with more than 800 enrolled for the fall semester. In October, the Global Consortium for Indigenous Nations Higher Education recommended that the department receives accreditation making it one of the first Indigenous programs at a mainstream institution to receive the designation.

Kristin Ruppellwho with Fleming is a co-principal investigator on the grant, said the opening of the IAI offered opportunities to develop new programs to match the new building in its dedication to ways of knowing, being and doing things. Native Americans.

“The new building and the relationships formed and renewed around its evolution, now over 15 years in the making, continue to inspire new insights into how the university community can improve and be bettered through its relationship with students. indigenous people, their families and communities. where they come from,” Ruppel said.

Fleming said her department has targeted several areas that will be enriched, all of which will help support Indigenous student success by strengthening multigenerational and community networks. They include a seniors-in-residence program; a peer mentorship program that would support students and their families; and year-round cultural and academic programming.

Kristie Russette, outreach coordinator and recruitment specialist for the department, said the university will also be able to expand its outreach efforts to Indigenous students by strengthening cultural programs and support systems that will provide the atmosphere family that Aboriginal students find so important.

“Our students say one thing they miss when they come to (university) is the cultural components and the community ways,” she said. “It will help us create a home here (on campus). We will be able to do good things. »

Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies supports efforts to improve the quality of life and to prevent and alleviate the suffering of children, families and the elderly; preserve and promote the environment and the arts; and encourage the humane treatment of animals. Founded by the late Margaret A. Cargill, the foundation partners with knowledgeable organizations to make a lasting difference for individuals and communities, with special attention to overlooked causes. MACP’s combined assets (Margaret A. Cargill Foundation and Anne Ray Foundation) place it among the top 10 foundations in the United States. MSU’s College of Education, Health and Human Development received a $1.5 million grant of the foundation in the fall to help solve Montana’s rural teacher shortage.

James C. Tibbs