October 10, 2022
Dear University of Oregon community,
Today, we mark National Indigenous Peoples Day—a day to celebrate and honor American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and their invaluable contributions, resilience, and inherent sovereignty. On this important day, I am excited to announce a new innovative student success program dedicated to serving American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) undergraduate students on our campus.
The University of Oregon Home Flight Scholars Program expands and builds upon our existing academic and financial support programs for AIAN students by providing:
- Once available state and federal grants have been exhausted, the university will provide institutional support to cover the remaining tuition and fee costs for Oregon residents who are enrolled citizens of the 574 federally recognized tribes.
- Expanded academic support and professional development opportunities with a new dedicated AIAN academic advisor.
- Enhanced programs that support inclusion, welcoming, and mentoring through numerous new experiences, conferences, and other opportunities.
The Home Flight Scholars Program is designed to address the unique cultural and academic challenges or barriers that AIAN students often experience. We developed the program after consultation with the UO’s Native American Advisory Council (NAAC), a group comprised of tribal leaders from the nine federally recognized tribes of Oregon. NAAC’s guidance, along with input from other tribal citizens at the UO, helped us to establish several key priorities for the program.
First, the Home Flight Scholars Program will help remove the financial challenges to attending college that AIAN students face, and in doing so significantly increase the number of AIAN students at the UO. Second, the program will wrap these students in support, advising, residential community, and educational experiences that will help them persist, thrive, celebrate their culture, and establish strong connections on the way to graduation. Finally, we will seek to strengthen ties and opportunities with these students’ home tribes, so that when they graduate, they will return home—well prepared to contribute and lead fulfilling lives in their sovereign nations.
The program will be led by Jason Younker, the assistant vice president and advisor to the president on sovereignty and government-to-government relations at the UO and the chief of the Coquille Indian Tribe. He is also an associate professor of anthropology and a double Duck, having earned both his master's and doctorate degrees at the UO. He is the ideal person to lead this program with passion and purpose.
The University of Oregon has much to gain from the Home Flight Scholars Program as we attract top AIAN scholars, and enrich our teaching, research, and campus culture with the valuable perspectives of more American Indians and Alaska Natives. It serves our commitment to providing access to an outstanding public research education for every Oregonian and every tribal citizen residing in Oregon. Investing in our AIAN undergraduate students is one more way we strive to improve our world, create meaningful impact, and be the University of Oregon for Oregon.
I am incredibly grateful to Jason Younker, our AIAN campus community, and our Native American Advisory Council for their insights and wisdom which helped make this program a reality. I invite you to learn more about the program by visiting the Home Flight Scholars Program website.
This is an exciting next step in support of our AIAN undergraduate students at the University of Oregon. I look forward to seeing the impact the Home Flight Scholars Program will have on our students, our communities, and our state, now and in the future.
Patrick PhillipsInterim President and Professor of Biology