Thursday, September 22, 2011

100 Native American Degrees By 2020

Below is a plan to address the problem of high Native American college dropout and low graduation rates at the University at Buffalo, SUNY.

Name of Program: Red Jacket Living & Learning Community
Location: University at Buffalo’s Red Jacket Hall
Director: David A. Patterson, Silver Wolf (Adelv unegv Waya) PhD
Start Date: Fall 2012


This program is being offered as a Living & Learning Community Model where Native American, Indigenous and any other allied University at Buffalo (UB) students share campus residential space in Red Jacket Hall and are provided social and academic programming.

SUNY has collected student data for the past 30 years showing that Native American, Indigenous students have had the highest rates of dropout compared to any other student enrolled in its system. After three decades, this abysmal reality can no longer be ignored.

The Red Jacket Living & Learning Community (Red Jacket L&LC) program will improve Native American, Indigenous and any other allied student’s academic retention rates, GPS scores and improve their overall educational and social experiences. It has been scientifically proven that a Living & Learning Community Model increases student’s GPA scores, college retention rates, and overall academic experiences. In an effort to appropriately address these Native American, Indigenous high dropout rates, a Living & Learning Community Model has been developed and will officially begin at UB Fall 2012.
The Red Jacket L&LC will be faculty led and directed by Dr. David A. Patterson, Silver Wolf (Adelv unegv Waya), who is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work and Director of UB’s Native American Center for Wellness Research (NACWR). The Red Jacket Hall has cultural significance with the Native American, Indigenous community. Red Jacket Hall gets its name from the Seneca Nation Chief who led a peace delegation with George Washington in 1792. Red Jacket’s work and reputation continues to have great significance throughout Native American, Indigenous communities and having programming space in this Hall will have a decidedly impact on program success.

Red Jacket Living & Learning Community Program Highlights

This program creates a partnership between two existing programs within UB, NACWR and Undergraduate Academies. These partners will share resources as well as use other UB-related assets. The Red Jacket L&LC will follow an idea of Engagement, Efficiency, and Excellence.

Student, Program, Faculty & Staff Engagement: Students in all academic levels will have the opportunity to participate in the Red Jacket L&LC program. Although the program site is located in the Red Jacket Hall and targets students living on and off campus, participation is open to any and all students. It is important to engage all UB students without regard to culture or race factors. While the Red Jacket L&LC will target Native American, Indigenous students, the program will engage any other interested student.

The Red Jacket L&LC program will work with recruiters in UB’s Admissions office who focuses on recruiting Native American, Indigenous students and once accepted at UB the admission staff will share information about the Red Jacket L&LC program with the students, as well as send a list of their names to the Director in order to personally reach out to them. Beyond seeking out Native American, Indigenous students specifically, the program will work to recruit students at existing campus events such as Open Houses, Discovery Days, Orientation sessions, etc. and that campus partners related to the population of students will assist in these efforts, such as (IDC, Student Support Services, Academies, etc.)

Additionally, the Red Jacket L&LC program will work with WNY secondary school counselors to inform them of the program so that if they have Native American, Indigenous students, they can share it with them, which may then be the reason the student chooses to apply to UB.

Red Jacket L&LC students will have the opportunity to benefit from many existing resources throughout the UB system. For instance, the NACWR will open its services, (e.g., mentoring, on & off-campus scholarly and social activities, research supports, scholarship, study abroad, etc.) to every Red Jacket L&LC student. The Undergraduate Academies will also provide services such as student recruitment, civic engagement, global perspectives, research explorations, etc. The Intercultural and Diversity Center will support the program and provide student workshops, cultural events, student supports, etc.

Other UB programs/department will be used to support students such as the TRIO programs, Upward Bound, McNair, Udall, etc. There are also existing faculty and staff who will engage with Red Jacket L&LC students.
The program director, David A. Patterson, PhD is an Assistant Professor at UB’s School of Social Work and currently directs the NACWR.  Dr. Patterson was involved with the 2011 McNair conference, works with McNair students, is an Udall scholarship reviewer, and mentors many Native American and Non-Native UB students. Existing staff within programs at UB, discussed above, have expressed interest in partnering with Red Jacket L&LC and will continue seeking ways to target and use current UB resources.

Students enrolled in the Red Jacket L&LC will have the opportunity to become engaged with multiple resources on campus, locally, and globally. As discussed earlier, campus resources are plentiful and ready to partner. Along with these campus assets, students will also have the opportunity to participate throughout our local Native American, Indigenous communities. Western New York has a large, rich and diverse Native American, Indigenous community. It is home of the Six Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora) or Haudenosaunee, translated into “People of the Longhouse.” This region is also home to many other Tribes, Nations, and Indigenous Peoples. Students will also have the opportunity to engage globally by participating in the summer study abroad program, described below.

Efficiency: The Red Jacket L&LC program will utilize current UB resources competently and proficiently.  The program is designed to benefit from all of UB’s existing resources. Along with the resources discussed earlier, the program will also benefit from other types of UB assets. For instance, Social Work Master Students are required to complete a semester-long field placement (e.g., on the job training). The Red Jacket L&LC program meets this placement expectation and can be a site where master-level students work with Red Jacket L&LC students and throughout the entire university system supporting the goals of the program.

Part of the activities within the Red Jacket L&LC will be centered on interventions that improve retention, GPA scores, and overall student experiences. Empirically-based research indicates significant differences between students enrolled in living & learning communities and those not as it relates to retention, GPA, and satisfaction.  Along with regular program offerings, master and PhD-level UB students will have an opportunity to provide proven interventions under the supervision of faculty.  

Scholarship, Research, and Teaching Excellence: A very strong and unique research-based program will be offered for Native American, Indigenous and all other UB students. Activities within the program are scientifically proven and culturally based. There will be many opportunities for Red Jacket L&LC students to receive services that support scholarship, research, and teaching excellence.

The NACWR established the Wolf-Fire Scholarship to support UB students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees whose scholarly works are focused primarily on Native American, Indigenous communities throughout the Western New York and Northeast region. Through the Wolf-Fire Scholarship, we hope to support UB students’ scholarly works in Native American communities as well as providing financial assistance and mentoring. Students who are awarded Wolf-Fire funds will become Student Fellows within UB’s NACWR. These Fellows will work closely with the Director of NACWR, Dr. David A. Patterson. Red Jacket L&LC students can apply and be awarded funds supporting their scholarly efforts.

NACWR has also developed an international study abroad program for Native American, Indigenous and other students. During each summer of the academic year, a cohort of students will be offered a study abroad program to Ireland.  This could be a two or four week, three or six credit earning course for both undergraduate and graduate students. There will be many opportunities to travel around the world and study indigenous health & wellness issues, cultural perspectives, historical events, and many other aspects in that country.

With the Red Jacket Hall setting along with the supports offered by UB and the Native American Center for Wellness Research, the Red Jacket L&LC program will be a national model for improving the academic successes and experiences of Native Americans, Indigenous and any other allied college students.

Red Jacket Living & Learning Community Programming

 Faculty led Academics Programming:

·         Introductory & Retention Seminar – Fall
·         Undergraduate Academies Three Themes Seminar – Spring
·         Discovery Seminars – topic-based, 1 credit course per semester
  •    Informal Academic Advising & Support – Ongoing
Each Fall, the Director, David A. Patterson will lead a Fall seminar for new students entering Red Jacket L&LC. An overview along with all resources will be provided. Also, research indicates that certain, brief activities significantly improves college retention for minority students. Part of this Fall seminar will specifically focuses on student retention interventions activities. The director will direct and oversee these retention interventions.  A 1-credit Discovery Seminar will be offered for Red Jacket L&LC students each semester. The Discovery Seminar will be part of Undergraduate Academies program and will include topics such as natural health and healing, cultural drumming and song development, and other topics to be later determined. Also, specific faculty and staff will provide Red Jacket L&LC students with informal advising and other social supports. Students needing official advising will be connected with the most appropriate resource. All of these activities will be provided on a monthly and on-going basis by the Director and other supportive UB faculty, staff and supervised students.

Faculty & Student led Academics and Social Programming:

·         Individual and small group meetings – monthly
·         Cultural events – monthly
·         Peer Mentor meetings – monthly & as needed
  •    Native American Peoples’ Alliance, Student Association Group & Intercultural and Diversity    Center – meets monthly

The Red Jacket L&LC enrolled students will meet individually and in small groups in order to support each other both academically and socially. These meetings, although scheduled monthly, will also meet as needed. This space will additionally be used to hold regular cultural events. The Director and Red Jacket L&LC students will provide activities related to preparing specific foods, drumming and singing events, community social events, and cultural teachings, etc.  Part of the mission will be to learn and be active in ones own cultural activities as well as different tribal events.  Students who are not Native American, Indigenous will have the unique opportunity to learn and become involved in all of these academic and social programs. Once the Red Jacket L&LC program becomes established, experienced students will engage and mentor other, newer students. These mentoring meeting will be scheduled monthly as well as on a needed basis.

The Native American Peoples’ Alliance (NAPA) is a UB student association group that meets monthly and promotes Native American, Indigenous school and community events. NAPA will hold its regular meetings in the Red Jacket L&LC space and welcomed to engage with all aspects of the program. UB’s Intercultural and Diversity Center is involved with many cultural events on campus. Specifically, they organize the yearly Native Bazaar on campus along with arrange a campus visit for Native American high school students. These groups will join our efforts and welcome to hold its meetings in the Red Jacket Hall space.

The Red Jacket L&LC program is unique and its program design and offerings do not exist anywhere east of the Mississippi River. With SUNY and University resource support this program will be the only Living & Learning Community in the Nation. The potential to have a positive effect on Native American, Indigenous students, both locally and nationally will be momentous.

Projected Enrollment & Retention Rates

Beginning in academic year 2012 UB enrolled 85 Native American Undergraduate & Graduate/Professionals. UB & SUNY have a regular mid-fifties dropout rate for their Native American populations.

Five Year Native American/Indigenous Enrollment & Retention Plan

Undergraduate Native American Students
Academic Year
Enrollment Target
Retention Target (% remaining)

52 actual
Historically 43%
32 (50%)
45 (60%)
56 (70%)
70 (70%)
* Since the 1980's 43% of Native Americans remain enrolled in UB/SUNY colleges.
Graduate/Professional Native American Students
Academic Year
Enrollment Target
Retention Target (% remaining)

13 actual
Historically 43%
11 (55%)
15 (60%)
21 (70%)
28 (70%)
* Since the 1980's 43% of Native Americans remain enrolled in UB/SUNY colleges.

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