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University of Utah Celebrates Rededication of the American Indian Resource Center

Apr. 9, 2008 – An open house celebration and ceremony to rededicate the University of Utah American Indian Resource Center (AIRC) will be held 2:00 p.m. Friday, April 11, 2008 at the center, 1925 E. DeTrobriand Street in Fort Douglas.

“The rededication of the American Indian Resource Center represents the University of Utah’s continuing commitment to enhance the success of American Indian students, faculty, and staff,” said University of Utah President Michael K. Young. “We have assembled a dedicated and highly talented team of American Indian advisors and directors who, along with Dr. Octavio Villalpando, associate vice president for diversity, and the rest of our administrative leadership team, will ensure that we provide as much support as possible to American Indian students, faculty, and staff.”

Since its inception in 1991, the American Indian Resource Center (AIRC) has developed steadily as a cultural and educational home for the university’s American Indian students and community, according to Villalpando.  “President Michael K. Young has renewed the university’s commitment to continue to enhance the success of American Indian students, faculty, and staff by securing new resources and broader support for the AIRC. The open house celebration serves as a formal rededication of the AIRC, but more importantly, also represents the university’s re-commitment to the success of native students, faculty, and staff,” Villalpando said.

The center was established to aid in the recruitment, retention, and support of American Indian students at the university. In January of this year Beverly Fenton was hired as a full-time director with a vision to make the AIRC a hub for American Indian educational programs, outreach, and retention for the Rocky Mountain Region. The center serves as a home away from home for American Indian students, says Fenton. “We provide support, tutoring, scholarships, computers for research, and a place for meetings and classes.” The rededication of the center and her appointment as the full time director are, according to Fenton, “tangible recognition of the university’s commitment to American Indian students, staff, and faculty.”  

The university’s vice president for diversity, Octavio Villalpando, and senior vice president, David Pershing, will provide introductory and welcoming remarks at the rededication ceremony. Center director Beverly Fenton will officiate. Lakota spiritual leader Arvol Looking Horse will give the keynote address. Chief Looking Horse is the organizer of World Peace and Prayer Day. His life and work revolve around his commitment to work toward religious freedom, cultural survival and revival. He has received recognition for his dedication to working for peace, including being awarded the prestigious Canadian Wolf Award in 1996, previously awarded to Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa.

Sponsors for the American Indian Resource Center rededication event include the College of Social and Behavioral Science, the College of Education, the Office of the Associate Vice President for Diversity, and the American West Center.