UW News

May 14, 2009

Organization of the week: Native Faculty and Staff Association of the UW

Editor’s note: There are many organizations open to the UW faculty and staff. Some have been around for years and some are new. Some are structured groups with officers and committees; some are much more informal. University Week provides a space for campus groups to publish their information, and beginning this quarter, we’d like to introduce you to one group a week. This week, Charlotte Cote, associate professor of American Indian Studies, introduces the Native Faculty and Staff Association.

Who can join?

All Native American, First Nations and Alaska Native faculty and staff are eligible to join. “This is a place where we can come together and merge our voices,” Cote said.

What does the organization do?

Cote said because the association is an ad hoc group it doesn’t have many formal activities. “We first came together as a visioning group,” she said. “When we meet on an informal basis — and what we’re doing now — is to consider what our mission and goals are.

“Our number one goal is to create an environment that is welcoming and supportive of all Native American faculty and staff at the UW, on all three campuses. It’s a place to come together to support and encourage each other.”

Cote said the group also helps in the recruitment and retention of Native American faculty and staff members, “especially in supporting them in moving into leadership positions. And part of that is trying to be a strong voice on campus, so that attracts Native faculty and staff to come here.” There are no dues.

Here is the group’s stated mission, from its Web site and UWeek Organizations page, created by Chesca Ward, diversity specialist in the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity.

The Native Faculty and Staff Association seeks to focus on initiatives specifically related to the well being of the UW’s Native Faculty and Staff, including efforts to:

  • Create and sustain an AIAN/First Nations community at the UW that celebrates achievements, acknowledges milestones, represents concerns and provides advocacy for community members when needed;
  • Create an environment that attracts, welcomes and retains AIAN/First Nations faculty and staff;
  • Acknowledge the service that Native faculty and staff provide to students formally and informally through mentorship and other student assistance;
  • Develop effective, ethical, innovative, respectful, and culturally appropriate cutting edge research partnerships with our tribal communities;
  • Improve the career pipeline for faculty and staff into the upper echelon of the UW.

Recent or typical activities

Cote said the group tries to meet at least a couple of times each quarter, depending on the schedules of those involved. When the group is meeting, a notice is sent out on its listserv.

How can I get involved?

“By getting in contact with someone from the Native Faculty and Staff Association,” Cote said. “And if they are First Nationals of Alaska Native they will definitely get an invitation to join us.”

There also are several related groups and efforts at the UW. Here is a list, again from the group’s Web site and UWeek Organizations page.

Related coalitions and efforts at the UW

It is important to note that there are a number of American Indian/Alaska Native/First Nations (AIAN/ First Nations) coalitions and efforts involving Native faculty and staff. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Native American Advisory Board
  • Native Research Group
  • The AIAN Center of Excellence
  • Indigenous Wellness Research Institute
  • Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity Tribal Liaison Position
  • Annual Tribal Leadership Summit
  • Raven’s Feast
  • House of Knowledge Planning Advisory Committee and Working Group

There is overlap in the membership and participation in these groups, as well as with their respective focus, vision, and mission. As NAFSUW evolves, we will determine how we can best collaborate with these groups.

The NAFSUW council is made up of representatives from faculty, professional staff, and classified staff.  The newly elected representatives are: Charlotte Cote, associate professor, American Indian Studies; Scott Pinkham, counseling services coordinator, College of Engineering and MSEP Lecturer, American Indian Studies; and Mona Halcomb, program coordinator, School of Social Work.