College Fund Creates Faculty Ph.D. Fellowships

Feb 15th, 2005 | By | Category: 16-3: Indigenizing Education, Tribal College News

As any doctoral student can attest, the pursuit of a Ph.D. is a test of endurance in itself. And yet for Venida Chenault, it is just one of her many responsibilities. In addition to being a full-time doctoral student at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, Chenault (Prairie Band Potawatomi and Kickapoo) has been a faculty member of Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS, for 13 years.

Similarly, Iris HeavyRunner (Blackfeet) has been immersed in the tribal college movement since 1978, most recently as an instructor and a consultant focusing upon retention and cultural resilience. She has presented information about cultural resilience all over the country and most recently in New Zealand. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in social work at the University of Minnesota.

For both of these women, juggling the demands of being both a teacher and a student has been daunting. Fortunately, a new program has been created to assist them in their pursuits. Chenault and HeavyRunner are the inaugural recipients of the American Indian College Fund – Mellon Tribal College Faculty Fellowship. Selected by an independent advisory panel of Native scholars, each received $32,250 to complete work on her doctoral dissertation.

Chenault’s dissertation is entitled, “The Case for Gender Repatriation: Violence and Abuse against Indigenous Women.” HeavyRunner’s dissertation is “Tribal College Student Retention.”

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (New York City) made the fellowship program possible through a $450,000 grant to the college fund in late 2003. The fellowship program is aimed at increasing the number of faculty at the nation’s tribal colleges and universities who have a doctoral degree.

This highly-competitive, 3-year program offers a $30,000 fellowship and $2,250 travel stipend to the selected fellows so they can devote a year to complete the final stages of their degree programs unfettered by financial considerations.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has provided $950,000 in support to the college fund over the past decade, making it one of the fund’s largest supporters.

 

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