Programs Developed to Support American Indians and other minority students
Below are descriptions of many programs and efforts at Montana State University. Click on each program heading to link to the home page of the program.
Council of EldersIn 2004, Montana State University established a Council of Elders to advise the President in regard to the University’s educational commitments and activities in relation to the descendants of the continent’s first peoples, particularly the tribes of the State of Montana, as mandated in the Constitution of the State of Montana. The Council advises the President in regards to the University’s recognition and implementation of Constitutionally declared policy regarding the distinct cultural heritage of the state’s American Indian peoples, its commitment of resources to the provision of services and programs to Native peoples, and institutional strategies for improving the education, recruitment, retention, and graduation of Native students. The Council also provides counsel the President in his efforts to:
- Promote respect for Native American cultures throughout the University community.
- Fulfill the University’s land grand commitments to teaching, research, and service/outreach to Native peoples in culturally appropriate ways.
- Work with tribes, tribal governments, tribal schools and colleges, and other organizations of Native peoples.
- Foster basic literacy in American Indian history, cultural values, and contemporary issues.
- Ensure the curriculum is respectful of the cultural values and rights of self- government of tribal peoples and evolves to meet the changing needs of Native peoples.
- Provide a mechanism for on-going cooperation with tribes on the development, delivery and evaluation of the University’s educational programs and activities
The members of the Council of Elders are appointed by the President from nominations made by faculty, staff, students, and other interested parties. Membership includes 12 tribal members, six honored members, and six ex officio members.
Center for Community-Based Research in Native American HealthThe center’s goal is to improve the health of Native Americans in Montana through community-based health projects that are conducted in partnerships between community members and health researchers. This goal is met through a research approach called community-based participatory research (CBPR) in which researchers and community partners work in partnership. Research is an essential component in eliminating health disparities, however many groups who experience health disparities have had negative experiences with researchers and with research processes. Traditionally, research has been conducted on or to, rather than with, tribal communities. Understandably, these experiences have led many communities and community members to distrust both the process of research and the people involved in research. The Center aims to change this history by bringing together community members and researchers to establish trust, share power, foster co-learning, enhance strengths and resources, build capacity, and examine and address community-identified health needs.
Through biomedical research and a focus on American Indian health issues, the MontanaIMSD program assists its students move into careers working to reduce public health disparities in their communities. This IMSD program is set to increase the number of American Indians in biomedical research careers by improving their academic competitiveness and by providing them with research experiences, thereby motivating them to pursue biomedical research careers. Our 4-year objective is to increase by 25% the number of our students who enter graduate school in biomedical disciplines.
This NIH-funded project maintains and enhances the partnership between Montana State University-Bozeman and four tribal colleges in Montana: Little Big Horn College, Fort Peck Community College, Stone Child College and Chief Dull Knife College. The specific goal of this partnership is to build a seamless educational experience between the four reservation-based colleges and MSU to increase the number of Native American students successfully transferring and pursuing academic studies in the biomedical and other health-related sciences At MSU. To accomplish this goal BRIDGES maintains and develops supportive communities of learners between and among students at all four community-based campuses and the MSU faculty mentors with whom they will be matched. To meet this goal, the BRIDGES project enlists 20 MSU faculty as research mentors/workshop presenters and annually hosts a three-day spring workshop for tribal college students and faculty at MSU. BRIDGES annually introduces 20 tribal college students drawn from the workshops to the four-year campus—including research labs, classes, Native campus support system, housing options, faculty mentors, and transfer issues—and matches the 11 students selected for the summer program with research projects/mentors. BRIDGES provides tribal college faculty with increased research support and opportunities for professional development and provides 4 tribal colleges inthe consortium with funds to strengthen their research capabilities.
Tribal colleges in several of Montana’s reservation communities offer Associate’s Degrees in early childhood education. However, until now, a Bachelor’s degree has been out of reach for many Head Start educators due to distance from Montana State University.
To address this problem, MSU’s College of Education, Health and Human Development responded to Blackfeet Community College, Fort Belknap Community College, Stonechild Community College and tribal Head Start programs by developing a distance delivered program. Students can complete the first two years of their degrees at their trial colleges and complete the last two years via online study through MSU.
The students are nontraditional age, ranging from 26 to 77, and many of them have had limited computer experience. However, their learning curves have been very steep and they are enthusiastic about learning the necessary computer skills. The students have shown courage, determination, and a willingness to tackle challenges and technology that often are intimidating. Each tribal college has taken the responsibility to provide students with computer training as well as designating an on-site technical support person. The Burns Technology Center at MSU has provided the needed guidance, support, and technology to successfully implement the WebCT platform for the program.
- Funding available for qualified students
- Summer Bridge Program prior to fall semester
- One- to four-credit seminar
- Learning community study sessions
- Internship and scholarship opportunities
- Support network for American Indian students in pursuit of professional nursing practice.
Through INBRE, tribal college faculty have become active and enthusiastic participants in the network, and university faculty have initiated partnerships with tribal college faculty to improve research and educational opportunities at the tribal colleges. These partnerships have come a long way towards overcoming geographic, economic and cultural differences, establishing productive, mutually respectful relationships between tribal college and university faculty members.
The next phase of INBRE will also continue to improve the quality of science education at the two-year tribal colleges, encourage and support students as they transfer to four-year campusesin the network and, through the expertise of the biomedical network and the advice of tribal leaders and educators, begin to address the health of tribal populations.
Over the past eight years of the BRIN and INBRE programs, over 60 tribal college students have been supported to participate in biomedical research projects. At MSU, 17 tribal college students participated in summer research programs through collaboration with MSU’sAmerican Indian Research Opportunities (AIRO) program, and all but 6 eventually matriculated to MSU. INBRE Native American Graduate Fellowships, established in 2006, support minority students until they complete their MS or PhD degree, provided they are making good progress toward the degree. INBRE recruited and currently supports three Native American graduate students in biomedical sciences. The INBRE leadership team is working with the MSU Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate College, and with faculty and administrators committed to advancing the education of Native American students, to develop strategies for improving the recruitment and success of Native American students and increase the number of Native American graduate students in biomedical sciences.
Support for tribal college students to attend AISES (American Indians in Science and Engineering Society) was provided for students who would have been unable to attend without financial support and who presented posters on their science research or participated in the science bowl. Newly enhanced tribal college biology and chemistry programs have enabled faculty to initiate small research projects employing two to three students during the summers. These projects have developed into full-scale research proposals for the next phase of INBRE at Little Big Horn College, Salish Kootenai College, Fort Peck Community College, and Blackfeet Community College, focusing on environmental health issues of great concern to reservation communities.
A pilot research project directed by Little Big Horn College (LBHC) science faculty Mari Eggers with her mentor, Dr. Tim Ford (former INBRE PI) was initiated through a BRIN mini-grant. The Exposure Assessment to Environmental Contaminants on the Crow Reservation project focuses on sampling and assessing water contamination in homes and surface waters and was featured in the Spring 2007 issue of the NCRR Reporter. The tribal Environmental Health Working Group (EHWG), established as part of this INBRE pilot project, developed collaborative research projects among tribal colleges, reservation communities, and partner institutions. Over 20 students have worked as interns on this project, 3 of whom have since completed baccalaureate degrees at MSU and have returned to LBHC to help continue this important study of water quality on the reservation. Because this research targets specific health issues on reservations, it attracts tribal college students and faculty, increasing the numbers participating in research projects. Investigators conduct research that is not only scientifically important but also extremely significant to their home communities.
Collaboration with INBRE has resulted in new faculty hires at tribal colleges, as well as enhanced equipment and research facilities. Research has become part of the mission of most tribal colleges, and some colleges and tribes have begun working together to identify the health issues and disparities that most affect their communities. Developing collaborative, community-relevant educational and research programs has moved tribal colleges to the next level in their ability to grow the next generation of Native American biomedical researchers and health care providers.
Indian Education for All Professional Development EffortsIn the past two years, Dr. Jioanna Carjuzaa from the Department of Education has been awarded $45,000 in professional development grants from the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) to promote the implementation of Indian Education for All (IEFA). Most recently, in February 2008, Dr. Carjuzaa was awarded the OPI IEFA Montana University System Teacher Education Professional Development Grant for $15,000 to pursue on-going efforts. This has resulted in the following IEFA Professional Development Workshops:
- IEFA Teacher Education Professional Development Institute, May 17– 18, 2007
- Update on MCA 20-1-501 Indian Education for All in Montana & “A Different Place - The Intercultural Classroom” February 22, 2008
- MSU Indian Education for All Professional Development Workshop October 12, 2007
- IEFA Professional Development Workshop, September 12, 2008
This year’s TCLI theme was Indigenous Languages, in keeping with the United Nations declaration of 2008 as the international year of languages. Programs included a session on the Fort Belknap White Clay Immersion School, with Director Lynette Chandler; disaster recovery by two librarians who have seen the aftermath of library floods and have been instrumental in overseeing their cleanup, Joan Hantz from Chief Dull Knife Memorial College and Victoria Heiduschke from MSU; and a session on Indigenous Languages by MSU President Geoffrey Gamble, who studied Wikchamni a California area Native language with the last surviving speakers. TCLI participants made a special day-long trip to Little Big Horn College to help the Crow community celebrate LBHC’s brand new library, the culmination of many years of hard work, planning and grant writing by Tim Bernardis, LBHC Library Director and his colleagues.
Many TCLI participants return year after year for this intimate gathering of peers who serve the library needs of their tribal communities. The tribal college librarians come together not only for the cultural, knowledge and skills programming, but also for the invaluable networking and group problem solving of issues unique to tribal college libraries. TCLI would not be possible without the support of MSU-Libraries and the Dean of the Libraries, Tamara Miller. For more information on TCLI, visit our webpage at http://www.lib.montana.edu/tcli
Recruitment efforts specifically targeting low income and students of color:
High School Visits– Each Montana high school with a significant minority (Native American) student population are contacted at least once in an attempt to set up a visit by the Minority Representative. All tribal high schools are visited as well as those on and around the seven Montana Indian Reservations.
Tribal College VisitsEach tribal college in the State of Montana are visited at least once during the travel season.
Out-of-State VisitsA concentrated effort is made to recruit students from states that have a high minority (Native American) population.
MSU Rockin’ the RezIn the spring (May) of 2002, a specialized committee was formed from the MSU Indian Project Directors committee to develop a reservation community based recruitment event. In 2003-2004, four urban areas were added to target Native American prospective students in city populations. The purpose of the seven Montana reservation and urban area Rockin’ the Rez events was to introduce prospective Native American students, family members, and community leaders to MSU academic and student support services. Rockin’ the Rez (RTR) is targeted towards sophomore, junior and seniorhigh school students and tribal college transfer students. The Admissions Department database is used in conjunction with the RTR marketing efforts to advertise and invite prospective students to the area events. The minority recruiter/Admissions works with the RTR committee to coordinate all travel dates in Admissions and travel dates for the RTR events to reduce and/or eliminate overlapping of travel.
Facilitate Group VisitsThe Minority Representative provides campus tours/group presentations to all Gear Up, Talent Search, Upward Bound, Montana Apprenticeship Program (MAP), and any other Native American elementary, junior high or high school groups requesting one. Complete visits (departments, administrative offices, tours, presentations, etc.) are set up for tribal colleges and high school groups that request them.
Native American Youth Preview DayThe Minority Rep aids the Assistant Director of Programs with the coordination and marketing of a visit day directed toward Native American students in the state of Montana. This visit day is held in conjunction with the American Indian Council Pow Wow.
FYI functions closely with offices such as Disability, Veteran, and Re-Entry Services, the Academic Advising Center, Students Assistance Foundation (SAF), and TRiO Student Support Services. These offices are at the forefront of providing services to low-income, minority, and otherwise underserved populations on campus. Together, our support network for these students provides comprehensive and holistic support. One of FYI’s largest events, Catapalooza, hosts nearly 200 community clubs, organizations, businesses, Student Assistance Foundation, and TRiO. Catapalooza is an excellent opportunity to immediately connect new and existing students to organizations which encourage retention and improve student satisfaction with the MSU experience.
More specifically, Family & Graduate Housing provides programs and information on safety, financial responsibility, community responsibility, and numerous other topics that provide focus on tenant and family success. F&GH works with the Counseling Center to provide weekly ‘exclusive’ consultation hours to meet the needs of our clientele’s busy schedules. As well, we provide immediate response to tenant financial issues and meet with them to find a pro-active and retention-friendly solution to their financial concerns. We provide consultation for low-income students/families to provide information on assistance options in the community. Free lunch programs, co-sponsored by the Gallatin Valley Food Bank are provided for children of low income families in the summertime. The Family & Graduate Housing Office also accepts Section 8 HUD housing vouchers benefitting students who quality based upon income criteria.The Residence Life Department is committed to retention and success of low-income students, American Indian students, and students of color. Residence Life also promotes an understanding and appreciation of human differences; cultural competency; social responsibility through on-going social activities and educational programming opportunities. As part of the staff training module, Residence Life staff members meet with the Native American Student Advisor and representatives from International Programs to discuss student retention strategies.
Financial Aid Services is committed to educating students, their families, and the general public so that every student feels like a college degree is within their reach. We provide financial aid counseling and materials to individuals and groups ranging from middle-school to college level. We have a financial aid advisor that provides specialized counseling to Native American students to assist them with their tribal aid funding. We work closely with TRIO and the Disability Office to assist disadvantaged students. We provide outreach at regional high schools each winter (Financial Aid High School Nights) to educate students and their families about financial aid and to assist with the financial aid application process. We also host a College Goal Sunday event each year that is targeted to first-generation, low-income families, providing one-on-one help with their financial aid applications. Financial Aid Services plays a critical role in meeting MSU’s recruitment, retention, and graduation rate goals. Sixty to seventy percent of the student body receives some form of financial assistance and many would not be able to attend or persist without the benefit of aid.Disability, Re-entry and Veteran Services promotes access, retention, and completion rates for students of low-income, American Indian heritage, or of color. A staff member regularly attends Indian Program Directors meetings, and has traveled to tribal colleges with the Prep Program of the College of Engineering. Our office provides one departmental scholarship for a Montana student with a physical disability. Our daily work with students emphasizes empowerment and self-determination, in conjunction with equal access to university programs and services. Direct approaches which encourage student growth include a wide range of interpersonal programs: personal skill workshops, specific issue-oriented groups, and the training of professionals. The Center also responds to specific needs of student groups at their request. An equally vital part of the direct contact phase of the Center’s mission deals with behavioral emergencies, provision of short-term counseling, and therapeutic intervention for students in emotional distress. In this facet of its mission, the Center frequently collaborates with staff members of other offices within the Division.
Support Services for Diverse Students:The Center for Counseling and Psychological Services has been actively engaged in providing support services for diverse students. Efforts in this area include recruitment of diverse staff members, provision of supervision and training for working with students of diversity, and provision of outreach targeted to diverse populations.
We typically designate one of our three annual internship staff positions as a diversity hire and have been fortunate to hire African American, Native American, Asian American, Cuban American, and South Asian interns. Two years ago we hired a bi-racial senior staff member who serves as our diversity coordinator. We have an ongoing Diversity Training Seminar to enhance staff awareness and skills in working with diverse clients. Counseling and Psychological Services staff members annually co-facilitate the Native American Support group, attend Indian club meetings and present psycho-educational outreach programs specifically for Native American students. We have a staff liaison with the office of International Students and conduct workshops for international students. For the past 20 years our interns have regularly had summer rotations on four of the state’s Indian reservations. This year we are offering a Diversity Dialogue Seminar for all students. During the past 5 years, Counseling and Psychological Services has seen 9.3 to 14.6 percent of ALL students of color enrolled at Montana State University. During that time the attrition rate of our clients dis-enrolling for Montana State University has ranged from 1.2 to 2.9 percent, a remarkably low figure. We have not specifically targeted our programs for low-income students but many of our clients qualify as low SES and report that they could not afford to utilize our services in the private sector.
Our “Student of Achievement” program recognizes those students who serve as role models and leaders of the MSU student community. We actively solicit nominations from Native American Studies and the Office for International Programs and are eager to recognize those students who have risen to the top of our student body despite the many obstacles they may face.
The Student Health Service has made specific efforts to provide diversity awareness training to its clinical staff to make them sensitive to the needs not only of students of color but also to international students and students of all sexual orientation. With respect to our Native American students, the Health Service bills any charges directly to the Indian Health Service for students with that coverage.
MSU Career, Internship & Student Employment Services is committed to assisting low income and students of color by:
- Sponsoring a “Diversity Coffee” connecting employers and students during career fair.
- Providing workshops and presentations to Gear-Up, MSU American Indian Club, Montana Health Careers Summer Camp (formerly known as U-DOC), EmPower, etc.
- Working in conjunction with the Student Assistance Foundation to provide accurate information regarding salary expectations and debt repayment.