Program nearly triples number of new American Indian students on campus
Syracuse Post Standard
By Nancy Buczek
Syracuse University’s current population of new American Indian students is greater than ever before, jumping more than 181percent compared to last fall.
SU officials attribute the increase from 16 new American Indian students last year to 45 this year to a new scholarship program announced in August 2005, The Haudenosaunee Promise. The scholarship provides certified current citizens of any of the six Haudenosaunee nations financial assistance equal to the cost of tuition, on-campus room and board and mandatory SU fees in each year of study toward their first bachelor’s degree.
Thirty of SU’s 45 new American Indian undergraduate students this fall are recipients of the new scholarship, and more than nine territories are represented. SU has 71 American Indian undergraduate students enrolled out of a total undergraduate population of 11,573.
To help the students with the transition to college life, SU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs opened a Native Student Program office Aug.1. Most of the scholarship students are the first in their families to go to college, said David C. Smith, SU’s vice president for enrollment management and emissary to the Haudenosaunee.
“We understand there are responsibilities beyond just simply registering them and then wishing them good luck,” Smith said.
Chancellor Nancy Cantor announced the scholarship last year to express SU’s respect for the Haudenosaunee and to instill a better relationship between the university and the Haudenosaunee, Smith said.
Scholarship recipients must be accepted at SU like any other student and are then required to maintain full-time academic status at SU with a minimum 2.5 cumulative grade point average, Smith said. SU does not limit the number of Promise scholarships awarded annually.
“I’m going to guess what we saw this year may be the high-water mark,” Smith said. “We probably won’t see any more than that, but that’s a guess.”
The scholarship program is paid for from the university’s financial aid budget, but Smith said SU plans to raise money to help support the program.
“If you’re going to have any kind of meaningful core group, critical mass of people, to carry on a conversation with or discuss and debate things with, they have to be here,” Smith said..