NINLHE Offers Professional Development

Aug 15th, 1999 | By | Category: 10-4: Native Arts Education, Tribal College News

Many education professionals working with Native American students are interested in finding new ways to enable Native American students to earn college degrees while keeping their cultural identities intact. In 1993, they formed an organization, the National Institute for Native Leadership in Higher Education (NINLHE). Their goals were to provide universities’ student affairs staff and faculty with training to improve access, retention, and graduation rates for Native American students.

In 1997, the organization received a major, multi-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s “Capture the Dream” initiative. Sharing NINLHE’s interest in Native students, the Kellogg Foundation sought to build partnerships between tribally controlled institutions and mainstream universities serving those students. According to Dr. Betty Overton Adkins, the foundation’s director of higher education programs, Kellogg wants the two types of institutions to learn from each other for the benefit of all their Native American students.

NINLHE seeks more participation from tribal colleges in its two major initiatives–its Training Fellowship Program and Annual Institute. NINLHE awards three to four fellowships each year to noted experts in fields related to the recruitment and retention of Native American college students. The fellowships provide financial and professional support to individuals with proven records of success so they may share their expertise with others and create training programs. Fellows develop comprehensive training modules designed to impart the theoretical knowledge, training, and tools that student affairs staff and faculty need to replicate these successes at their own institutions.

Two NINLHE training fellows from last year are involved with tribal colleges, John Gritts (Cherokee) of the American Indian College Fund and Carolyn Fiscus (Winnebago), director of community education at Nebraska Indian Community College. They presented their training modules on financial aid and Native American leadership development at the March 1999 American Indian Higher Education Conference in Billings, Mont. The new training fellows (Alethea Young, Ph.D.; Kim Epley; and Carolyn Fiscus) will present their training modules August 11-16, 1999 at NINLHE’s sixth Annual Institute. Each year, NINLHE selects 30-35 participants to take part in an intensive, week-long professional development institute that focuses equally on professional empowerment; personal renewal; and reclaiming a balance between work, relaxation, and fun. This year’s institute will be on the campus of the Native American Preparatory School in Rowe, N.M.

Teri Dahle, NINLHE’s interim executive director, said she hopes to increase the number of tribal college staff and faculty who are members of the organization. Dahle was formerly a student affairs professional at Blackfeet Community College. For more information, contact Teri Dahle at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque by phone (505) 277-2651 or by e-mail <>.


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