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Student development conference coming to University of Idaho

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MOSCOW, Idaho – An American Indian student development conference is scheduled for Nov. 19 – 20 at the University of Idaho. Steven Martin, Muscogee Creek/Choctaw, directs the Native American Center at the university and heads up planning and organization for the conference. “This is for professional people, but students are highly encouraged to attend and definitely students who want to go into the college ranks,” he said.

This conference will be the second in what may become an annual event. It has evolved from committees in both the American College Personnel Association and the National Association for Student Personnel Administrators. Last year, the two groups held a joint meeting and, since their purposes were somewhat similar – namely scholarship research, professional development, recruitment of Native American professionals into student affairs, and educating professionals in how best to work with Native American students – agreed to come together.

“Many involved had not been to Idaho and they thought it would be great to hold it here. I took a proposal to our provost who said it was a great idea.”

That beginning led to developing a conference to utilize and benefit from these experienced professionals working in student affairs at various schools. The people involved thought it was a good idea and agreed to give presentations.

“We want to focus on how to educate professionals in student affairs to better serve Native American students at the college level,” Martin explained, “what types of strategies or services are out there and working at other institutions that could be shared with professionals here in the Northwest. I want it to be an exchange of information. I want to demonstrate to our guest speakers what we are doing here in the Northwest as well.”

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The opening keynote address will be given by Cornel Pewewardy, Comanche/Kiowa, associate professor of Native American studies at Portland State University. D. Michael Pavel, Skokomish, will present the closing keynote speech. Pavel is an Associate professor in educational leadership and counseling psychology at Washington State University. Other presenters come from colleges and universities as widespread as Oklahoma, Minnesota, New York, Washington, North and South Dakota, and Idaho.

“I think people are excited,” Martin said. “People agree it’s a much-needed type of conference. In looking at the presenters, there is a wealth of knowledge they’re bringing; their experience, their research, and their current positions at the college level. It should benefit all people, whether you’re faculty or staff in student affairs or secondary educator. We’re talking of college preparation as well – what the needs are of Native American students.”

A student panel will be held on the second day of the conference. Martin has invited Native college students from the five schools in the region that signed a memorandum of understanding last year to work together to enhance educational opportunities for Native students. This panel will provide information on their college experiences and what can or needs to be done to enhance those experiences.

“Our whole goal is for people to take something away from this and know what’s out there, and then take it to their own campus and apply it.”

The $50 registration fee is waived for college students. For additional information or registration information, contact Martin at the University of Idaho, P.O. Box 443030, Moscow, ID 83844, or call (208) 885-4237.