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University adds program, school on the horizon

By Kelly Mayo
News Editor

March 29, 2012

Photo by Nick Phillips
Chancellor Kyle Carter addresses the crowd during the announcement of the creation of the Southeastern American Indian Studies program on March 15.

Chancellor Kyle R. Carter announced the creation of the Southeastern American Indian Studies program to an audience of about 50 guests in a press conference in front of Old Main on March 15.

Chancellor Carter said the program was born with the approval of UNCP's administration and will eventually grow into its own school.

The chancellor said the main goal is to make SEAIS "a national resource" on all aspects of Native American life. He also said he wants to "place Indian initiatives under one organizational umbrella" with SEAIS.

The University will begin implementing the program in fall 2012. Chancellor Carter said that he hopes the School of SEAIS will be fully operational in 12 to 18 months.

Solid foundation

Chancellor Carter placed Provost Ken Kitts in charge of creating an implementation team that will assure the SEAIS program will be ready to debut in the fall.

Dr. Kitts said that UNCP "is not starting from scratch in Indian studies," citing the University's Native American Resource Center and Mary Livermore Library's extensive archives of Native American research.

However, Dr. Kitts said, the program "will ease into permanence slowly," and that his team will create a timeline of implementation. The team will also assist with merging the program with UNCP's existing Department of American Indian Studies.

'Deeply honored'

Gregory Richardson, executive director of the North Carolina Commission on Indian Affairs, said that he was "deeply honored and excited" to witness the creation of the SEAIS program.

He said the program will honor those who had "taken it upon ourselves... to buy nails and lumber to build an institution for our communities" 125 years ago.

Richardson said that UNCP graduates "were encouraged to go to communities where we had no [Native American] teachers" in its earlier years.

He hoped that the SEAIS program would continue that trend by increasing the number of Native American students attending and graduating from UNCP.

Money matters

Chancellor Carter said that UNCP sent a proposal to the state legislature for a budget of "a couple hundred thousand dollars" for the SEAIS program. He said that the state's approval will affect how quickly the university can implement the program.

"If we don't get the money, we'll phase it in over time. If we do, it will allow us to move quicker," he said.

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