As part of Arizona State University’s (ASU) commitment to bringing more Native American students to the school, Diane Humetewa has been named as special advisor to the president for American Indian Affairs.
“ASU is committed to working with Arizona’s tribes to bring more Native American students to the university. Diane Humetewa will provide advice and counsel to ASU on its efforts to design and implement programs and initiatives to better serve Native American students and to partner with Arizona’s Indian tribal governments,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said in an ASU press release.
Humetewa, a member of the Hopi Tribe, was the first Native American woman to be appointed as a U.S. Attorney in 2007. In 2009, she received the Women in Federal Law Enforcement Foundation President’s Award—the highest award given by the foundation.
She will be taking over for Peterson Zah, who left the university in 2010 to go back to working for the Navajo Nation. While at ASU, she will be chair of the ASU Tribal Liaison Advisory Committee and a member of the Provost’s Native American Advisory Council. She’ll focus on promoting higher education to Arizona tribes.
Humetewa, according to the release, she is looking forward to building relationships with students.
“President Zah had been so instrumental in recruiting Native American students at ASU. The student population had grown immensely. We want to continue to build on the foundation he laid in terms of bringing in new students to pursue higher education from Native American communities and to work to retain those students who come to ASU,” Humetewa said in the release.
“I am looking forward to working with Diane to improve the retention and success of Native American students at the university,” said Elizabeth D. Capaldi, ASU executive vice president and provost.
According to the ASU Institutional Analysis Fact Book 2008-09, enrollment of Native American students was 1,453—up from 989 in 1998.
Humetewa will also serve as legal counsel and be a professor in the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law, which brings her full circle—she earned her Juris Doctor from there in 1993, and her bachelor’s from ASU in 1987.
In the release, she said she is looking forward to returning and seeing how ASU has evolved.
“ASU has changed in terms of its ability to reach outside of Tempe,” Humetewa said. Her initial goal is to look at the future of the university and where Native students and tribes fit into ASU.
“One of the comments most often heard among tribal leaders is that providing higher education opportunities to tribal members is an important goal. There’s a real priority placed on providing as much assistance to tribal members or identifying and tackling the roadblocks to education in the Native communities,” Humetewa said.
Which she knows will be a challenging task since about 50 percent of Native American students do not earn a high school diploma.