USET and UNC Asheville sign education agreement for Native Americans

A NEW DAY: USET President Kirk Francis and UNC Asheville Interim Chancellor Joe Urgo sign the agreement. Photo courtesy of UNC Asheville

Press release from UNC Asheville:

In a signing ceremony this morning, United South and Eastern Tribes Inc., or USET, and the University of North Carolina at Asheville agreed to collaborate on an education initiative that will offer undergraduate opportunities at one of the nation’s top public liberal arts universities, while enhancing cultural research and resources across the southern and eastern United States.

With the signing of the Instructional Credit and Admission Agreement, USET and UNC Asheville will jointly develop programming and research projects for UNC Asheville faculty and students in areas such as economic development, environmental sustainability, health and wellness, and language revitalization, along with other tribal sovereignty initiatives.

USET will help develop and support UNC Asheville with programs that will enrich not only the UNC Asheville campus, but the broader Asheville community. Some of these Native American initiatives include programming in the arts, crafts, dance, storytelling, tribal governance, and issues related to tribal sovereignty and U.S. federal relations.

“We are honored and excited to sign this agreement today and to partner with USET on ongoing programming and educational opportunities that connect the liberal arts and sciences to tribal experience and expertise,” said UNC Asheville’s Interim Chancellor Joe Urgo. “This initiative — the first of this magnitude — highlights our commitment to UNC Asheville’s core values of innovation, diversity and inclusion, and sustainability, as well as statewide priorities of affordability, access to higher education, and student success. On behalf of our faculty, staff and current students, I look forward to working together and to welcoming students from USET member Tribal Nations to UNC Asheville.”

As part of the agreement, UNC Asheville will work with faculty and administration to expand its existing American Indian & Indigenous Studies minor to incorporate curriculum specific to students who matriculate from USET member Tribal Nations.

Other entities expected to support the faculty program include UNC Asheville’s North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness and the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center. Additional support may come from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, as well as the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. UNC Asheville has an existing instructional credit agreement with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which began in 2015.

Beginning August 2018, UNC Asheville will set aside 20 enrollment slots for enrolled citizens of USET member Tribal Nations for the fall semester. Then a minimum of 20 enrollment slots will be set aside for the spring semester. Students who can demonstrate full financial support will be considered a resident student and be able to take advantage of in-state tuition rates at UNC Asheville.

The agreement is for a period of three years and may be renewed for four successive one-year periods.

“On behalf of the entire USET family, we are pleased to sign this agreement today that provides a unique opportunity to youth across our area,” said USET President Kirk Francis. “We are hopeful that through our partnership with the University of North Carolina Asheville, we will be able to develop curriculum and research projects that benefit our Tribal citizens and communities.”

The signing ceremony took place at the annual USET Sovereignty Protection Fund (USET SPF) Impact Week meeting. Tribal leaders from 27 Tribal Nations across the eastern United States gather to discuss important topics such as Indian Country legislative priorities for 2018, current threats to sovereignty, and the battle against opioid addiction.

USET SPF Impact Week will take place Monday through Thursday, Feb. 5-8, at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Arlington, Va., and on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.


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