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University of Utah Welcomes American Indian Students

Aug. 21, 2008 – The University of Utah will host a welcoming event for new and returning American Indian students on Saturday and Sunday August 23 and 24 at the American Indian Resource Center and other campus locations.

The American Indian Resource Center Welcome will bring together new and returning students to help create a sense of community among American Indian faculty, staff and students and acquaint them the resources vital for their academic success.  There are currently 253 American Indian undergraduate students enrolled at the university for fall semester including 40 graduate students (28 masters and 12 doctoral candidates). 

Octavio Villalpando, associate vice president, Office for Diversity, stated, “The University of Utah is very pleased to host our first campus-wide orientation program for new and returning native students.  Our hope is to ensure that all American Indian students make a personal connection with the many people, programs and services available to them at the U who support their academic and personal success.”

According to Sweeney Windchief, assistant dean for diversity of the Graduate School at the university, “It’s very important that American Indian students begin to engage with other native students, as well as the campus community in general, upon arrival to the university. It’s important for them to know that they are not the only ones going through the student experience. The students themselves are helping to create a campus community.”

At the Welcome students will take part in workshop sessions designed to help them navigate campus and access resources. American Indian faculty will host a panel presentation titled, “Academic Survival for the Ultimate Survivors.” Students will also learn about the Utah American Indian Digital Archive, the We Shall Remain Utah Indian Curriculum Project and the Center for American Indian Languages.

Nola Lodge, director, American Indian Teaching Education in the College of Education, added, “It is crucial that we reach out to American Indian students and their families.  We want to make the U a welcoming place, and for the students to feel there is support for them. Every day American Indians feel unwelcome and strangers in their own country. We want to help them reach their potential.”

According to Beverly Fenton, director of the American Indian Resource Center, “An important function of the American Indian Resource Center is to serve as a home away from home for American Indian/Alaska Native students. Events such as these let students know that we care about their success and we are here for them.”

The American Indian Resource Center Welcome is a collaborative, campus-wide effort with sponsorship and support from the following University of Utah and community entities:

  • The American Indian Resource Center
  • The Center for Ethnic Student Affairs
  • The Graduate School
  • Huntsman Cancer Institute
  • College of Education
  • College of Social & Behavioral Science
  • Department of Family & Preventive Medicine – Public Health Program
  • College of Nursing Operations
  • Assistant Vice President for Diversity
  • Health Promotion and Education
  • American West Center, the Department of History, and the Gender Studies Program
  • Center for American Indian Languages
  • Ethnic Studies
  • American Indian Services

For more information and a complete schedule of American Indian Resource Center Welcome events visit: