New Book Helps Higher Education Professionals Better Serve Native American Students

Beyond the AsteriskChallenge the status quo. That’s one of the messages a Warner School of Education professor hopes to convey in a new book.

Beyond the Asterisk: Understanding Native Students in Higher Education (Stylus, March 2013) uncovers how Native Americans remain one of the least represented and least understood populations in colleges and universities across the country. Stephanie Waterman, assistant professor in the higher education program at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education, recently co-edited the book, with Heather Shotton, assistant professor in Native American studies at the University of Oklahoma, and Shelly Lowe, executive director of the Harvard University Native American Program, to help higher education professionals and institutions better understand and respond to the needs of Native American students.

Written by Native American student affairs practitioners, faculty members, and non-Native allies who work with students daily, the 10 chapters in Beyond the Asterisk explore ways in which higher education professionals and institutions can better understand and, more importantly, better serve Native students.

Native Americans, who make up only one percent of the total college student population, are the least likely to graduate from college, research shows. According to the editors, the lack of knowledge about and understanding of Native students that exists may be attributed to this population’s invisibility in postsecondary institutions and research.

Because Native American students make up one percent of all students, they are typically relegated to an asterisk in statistical reports because their n is too small for quantitative analysis. The editors’ goal is to help the higher education community remove the Native American asterisk from research and practice.

“Native students have not been well served by mainstream institutions, or non-Native colleges and universities, as is evident by current enrollment and graduation statistics,” the editors explain in the introduction. “The absence of data on Native American students reinforces our invisibility, where our presence is hidden by the ever-present ‘asterisk’ and further marginalizes Native people. Leaders within higher education, faculty, and professionals must do a better job of understanding our Native students if we are to better serve them.”

The book begins with chapters that focus on Native American student experiences and support, followed by chapters on administrative matters. It then concludes with recommendations on how postsecondary institutions can help assist Native students in graduate programs, the role that Indigenous faculty play in student success, and how professional associations can help student affairs professionals in supporting the success of Native American students, staff, and faculty.

Throughout the book, authors provide insight into their understanding of working with Native students, bringing to the forefront critical issues and knowledge about this population. Based on their insight, they offer recommendations for graduate students, student affairs professionals, and administrators at all levels.

Stephanie WatermanWaterman, who is Onondaga, Turtle Clan, focuses her research on Native American college experiences, the role staff play in student retention, race and gender in higher education, indigenous methodologies/pedagogy, and college transition. As a 2005 National Academy of Education/Spencer Post-Doctoral Fellow, Waterman was able to expand her research on the Haudenosaunee college experience. She earned a doctorate in higher education administration from Syracuse University, where she previously served as professor in the higher education department and faculty associate for the Native Student Program. In 2012, she was a recipient of the Outstanding Research Award from the National Association for Student Personnel Administrators Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Community.

About the Warner School of Education
Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education offers master’s and doctoral degree programs in teaching and curriculum, school leadership, higher education, educational policy, counseling, human development, and health professions education. The Warner School of Education offers a new accelerated option for its EdD programs that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform. 
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Media Contact: Theresa Danylak
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Tags: educational leadership, higher education, Native American students, research