SFU Aboriginal Faculty Members to Increase

SFU Aboriginal Faculty Members to Increase

By: Diane Luckow
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Previously published in SFU NEWS Aboriginal Supplement December 2015 and in SFU News on December 21, 2015.

The Faculty of Education has just hired the first professor to be recruited under SFU’s Aboriginal Faculty Recruitment Plan.

Established by the VP Academic’s office, the plan, which is unique in Canada, provides funding for up to two new Aboriginal faculty positions each year. The VP Academic’s office will pay for three years’ worth of salary and benefits for each new Aboriginal professor, after which the faculty must continue to support the position. 

The plan’s goal, says VP Academic Jon Driver, is to encourage faculties to hire more Aboriginal professors. 

Kris Magnusson, dean of education, says, “I think any incentive program is good if it can get folks thinking about the issues around increasing the number of scholars who are of Aboriginal descent. In the education field there are two issues: having scholars who are Aboriginal, and having indigenous-education scholars.”

Since initiating the plan, the VP Academic’s office has approved three Aboriginal faculty positions—one each in business, health sciences and education. Two more positions are being considered—for the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology, and the Faculty of Environment.

However, only the Faculty of Education has filled its Aboriginal faculty position. 

“One of the problems we face is finding people to fill these positions,” says Driver. “That’s why we are also supporting generous scholarships for Aboriginal graduate students who are in programs that are likely to result in the students becoming professors.” 

William Lindsay, director of SFU’s Office for Aboriginal Peoples, says Aboriginal faculty members can assist with indigenizing curriculum and programs, developing relevant community partnerships, and attracting and mentoring Aboriginal students.

“It’s a long-term project, but we’re not giving up. We’ve set up this program—now let’s see what we can do.”

SFU First Nations faculty and staff recognized among Education 100

Three SFU First Nations faculty and staff members are cited among the Education 100, a selection of UBC education graduates acknowledged for their dedication, impact and expertise as community leaders in their professional area.

Education professor Amy Parent (Nisg’a) is researching how Aboriginal youth experience the transition from high school to university.

Ethel Gardner (Stó:l) has been a key contributor to Aboriginal language revitalization and Aboriginal education. An SFU PhD alumna, she is also noted among SFU’s 50 Inspiring Alumni. She is now a member of SFU’s Elders’ Program.

William Lindsay (Stoney-Cree), director of the Office for Aboriginal Peoples. He has devoted much of his career to building bridges between the educational needs of First Nations peoples and the post-secondary institutions that serve them, for the benefit of both communities.

Posted on December 17, 2015