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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
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American Indian grants returned

By Clayton Norlen

Community members, faculty and administration gathered outside the refurbished American Indian Resource Center on Friday to rededicate the center and show support for native students, but some students say the U’s efforts have been lackluster.

The rededication follows a decision made by the U to send back two grants from the U.S. Department of Education totaling over $2 million. The money was meant to assist students studying to become teachers for American Indian populations.

Michael Hardman, dean of the college of education, said the money was sent back because the conditions of the grant would have required the U to spend an additional million from state funds to start the program. He said the U doesn’t have money to meet the requirements of the grant.

“(Returning the grant) is not something that anyone at the U wanted to do,” Hardman said. “We wanted to broaden the range of students assisted, and we couldn’t do that and commit to the additional million.”

Hardman said the conditions of the grants were decided by faculty who are no longer teaching at the U.

Dozi Lynn, a graduate student in the Native American Teacher Training Program, is critical of the university’s decision to return the grants and asked why administrators didn’t contact the native American community or the reservations for assistance with funding.

“I think this is one more example of how the University couldn’t care less about native Americans on campus,” Lynn said. “It is sad to see this program leave because of the difference it’s made to students in the program and the communities they go to.”

The Four Corner States Aid to Teachers grant, which totaled at almost $1 million, would have provided distance learning and teacher training. In addition, graduates from the program would have received training and mentoring throughout their first year as either teachers or administrators, said Lana Shaughnessy, Indian education group leader for the U.S. Department of Education.

The second grant of nearly $1.1 million would have helped teacher’s aides return to college to earn bachelors degrees, Shaughnessy said.

Hardman said the state funds needed to help implement the programs could be better put toward other programs at the U. The College of Education is introducing a newly designed teacher program in the fall that will have a focus on diversity, Hardman said. In addition, the college will also be hiring an additional faculty member to oversee American Indian education within the department.

At the rededication of the center, Hardman, Octavio Villalpando, associate vice president for diversity, and Dave Pershing, senior vice president for academic affairs, all reaffirmed their commitment to American Indian students and staff.

Pershing said the American Indian Resource Center is an important space on campus for students and faculty, and he hopes to see it grow. Villalpando said the center has played a crucial role since it first opened in 1996 and sees it becoming a hub for information and services on campus.

“We’re bringing together broad resources from across campus, and this is the center piece,” Villalpando said. “The idea (is) that students, faculty and staff from around campus and off (will) understand this place is a central hub for their support.”

Since Beverly Fenton, director of the center, was appointed in January, the center has seen improvements. When Fenton was first appointed, all the center’s computers were infected with viruses, and there wasn’t any furniture in the building. Now the center has six operating computers, and all of the rooms are furnished.

“I want this place to be a central location for students and the community to meet,” Fenton said. “Right now we’re interested in outreach programs into native communities and giving young people the ability to dream.”

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