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The Office of the Provost established the Committee on Recruitment and Retention of Native American and Underrepresented Minority Students to work on issues like the underrepresentation of Native American students on campus.
Provost Daniel Myers established the group, which had its first meeting in October.
William Welburn, associate provost of the office of institutional diversity and inclusion, co-chairs the group with Jacqueline Schram, governmental and community affairs associate in the Office of Public Affairs. There are 12 committee members.
Welburn explained the committee aims to increase the presence of Native American students on campus, create greater engagement in Native American communities in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin and have Marquette’s presence as a university be felt in a positive way among Native American communities.
“We are charged with working on various issues to improve the climate for Native American students and actually really work on the commitment, historically rooted as it is, to Native Americans, Native American life, culture and history,” Welburn said.
This change also means more representation of scholarships and learning opportunities on campus in areas relating to Native Americans.
One committee member Jean Burke, interim dean of undergraduate admissions, said there will also be a change to Marquette’s application so that Native American students will be able to choose Native American affiliation.
“Little things like that can make a difference,” Burke said, “We are broadening our vision of what we can do more, how we can do more to be inclusive with this group, reach out and get the conversation across campus.”
Burke also said as far as recruitment, it is always good to be aware and make connections with Native American alumni and Native Americans across the country.
Burke will meet with the Rev. George Winzenburg, president of Red Cloud Indian School in South Dakota this week. Winzenburg was previously president of Marquette University High School and pastor of the Church of the Gesu Parish.
Welburn said the committee is grounded in the need to recognize Father Marquette’s deep, historical relationship to Native American people as presented in the painting from which images were extracted for the university seal.
“We are early in our work, but there is a lot of goodwill around our table,” Welburn said about the committee members.
The committee members include faculty, staff and students working together to create and present ideas to the provost for possible implementation. Priorities the committee establishes could be addressed in a matter of months, while others could take longer periods of time.
“We fully expect in the course of this academic year that we will work through these issues, have ideas for the provost to look at and have ideas for others to look at,” Welburn said. “Likewise, I hope that we can work with other entities, like community engagement and development of academic programming.”
Rainer Posselt, a senior in the College of Health Sciences, is one of the students on the committee. He said one thing the committee is working on is removing the lasting effects of Marquette’s former Warriors mascot.
“We thought (Marquette) could do a trade-in drive,” Posselt said. “If you come with Warriors (apparel), we could give you a Marquette T-shirt or sweatshirt.”