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ASU names new adviser to president on American Indian affairs

portrait of Bryan Brayboy
October 27, 2014

With a focus on strengthening ASU's capacity to meet the needs of American Indian students, Bryan Brayboy will work with Arizona's 22 tribal nations in his new role as Arizona State University's special adviser to the president for American Indian affairs.

Brayboy, a President’s Professor in the School of Social Transformation in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has taught at ASU since 2008 and said he is honored to follow in the footsteps of former Special Advisers to the President for American Indian Affairs, Diane Humetewa and Peterson Zah.

“Our relationship with the tribal nations depends upon a deep understanding of the challenges that their leaders face, particularly in the area of education, and bringing ASU’s expertise to bear on those challenges,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “We are also proud to say that approximately 2,400 Native students are enrolled on our campuses, and professor Brayboy will play an integral role in ensuring that they reach their academic goals.”

The university’s interactions with Arizona’s tribes is enhanced by the rich diversity of Native nations in the state and world-class indigenous faculty at ASU, Brayboy said.

“We’ll take a comprehensive look at what is happening with students and help them graduate more consistently,” he added. “A lack of finances is a major factor for Native students. We also need to consider what the overall climate is at the university and how academic and social lives fit together in Native student experiences.”

Brayboy said he is entering the new position with "a real sense of humility of the work in front of us."

“I bring to the position a long research record focusing on American Indian college students, faculty and staff. We’ll build on this knowledge to help the institution move forward," he said. "If we improve the experience for Native students, it should also improve for everyone else.”

Brayboy will continue to teach and he’ll maintain his position as director of Center for Indian Education that was founded in 1959 and is one of the oldest continuously operated centers of its kind in the world. Central to the center’s aim is assisting Arizona’s tribal nations with educational needs while serving as a research repository for Indian education.

“Work that we have accomplished through the center will inform our efforts,” Brayboy said. The center is a global endeavor that encompasses projects in Australia, New Zealand and first nations peoples in Canada. Published through the center is the Journal of American Indian Education, currently in its 54th year.

Brayboy, an enrolled member of the Lumbee Nation, will serve as chairperson of the ASU Tribal Liaison Advisory Committee and will be a member of the Provost’s Native American Advisory Council. He is a borderlands professor of indigenous education and justice who works to improve the overall academic experience of Native children.

Education is a common theme in his family as his grandmother and parents were teachers. After his father retired, he went back to work at the same school that he attended as a child. Brayboy initially thought he wanted to go into investment banking as he was growing up, but he became enamored of teaching as he continued in school and ultimately earned his doctoral degree with the highest distinction in the anthropology of education from the University of Pennsylvania.

Now he’ll take his skills to the next level, engaging the university with Native students and nations.

“This is an institutional effort of a group of people coming together to benefit the state’s people and demonstrate why ASU is so vital to the state and its future,” he said.