Native American House welcomes new director

The Native American House welcomed its new director Saturday at its Spring Welcome Back event hosted at the Asian American Cultural Center.

Irvin Harrison, the new director, came to the University from San Diego State University where he worked as an administrator.

“I start on Monday officially,” he said. “I have a lot of orientation and being introduced to the community to do after that.”

The position for a new director was announced through the University in newspapers and academic journals nationwide, said Robert Warrior, chair of the search committee and director of American Indian Studies as a professor at the University.

The University received more than 30 applicants for the position during the application process last fall. Harrison was interviewed for the position in October and chosen to be the director in November.

“For me it was a little bit of a waiting game,” he said. “But it was well worth the wait.”

Warrior said Harrison’s past accomplishments set him apart from the rest of the applicants.

“Irvin has a demonstrated record of national leadership in student affairs,” Warrior said.

Those in attendance expressed support for the new director.

“Just from what I’ve seen from him walking around here he’s very involved,” said Autumn Russell, junior in LAS.

Harrison’s new position as director will not be without challenges, Warrior said.

“Recruiting Native American students to our campus; the University has a bad reputation in the Native American world because of the ongoing hostility related to the University’s former sports mascot,” Warrior said.

Harrison is confident that the University will gain a more positive image.

“The U of I is a good place for Native American students,” he said. “The house and major can work together to create a positive environment.”

Harrison said very few positions exist as the head of a Native American House on a college campus – especially one that also has an American Indian Studies major.

“To find something like this is unique and when it came up I was very excited,” Harrison said.

Most universities typically have either the major or a cultural house, he said.

Harrison said his first goal as director is to meet as many of the Native American students on campus as possible to find out their needs and build a stable support system.

“I want to let them know I’m here for them,” he said.