UNCP’s Native American Presence Declining
CORRECTION: The statement “Native Americans are now the smallest minority group that attend or graduate from the university,” was incorrect.
According to the University Communications and Marketing, the demographics as of Fall 2017 are as followed: Asian 2 percent Unknown/other, 2.2 percent.Two or more races, 2.6 percent.Hispanic/Latino, 5.3 percent.American Indian/ Alaskan Native, 15.2 percent.Black/African American, 34.2 percent.White, 38.5 percent.
To appreciate educational history—is to know how far the educational journey has come.
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke was originally named the Croatan Normal School. The school was erected on March 7, 1887, and gave Native Americans the opportunity to expand their educational horizons.
Even though the school was founded and built for Native Americans, it has also opened doors for other minorities.
Native Americans are now the smallest minority group that attend or graduate from the university.
The Croatan Normal school was built “to train American Indian teachers,” according to the school history on the university website.
Thus, the university welcomed minorities and allowed students to achieve success through education.
Dr. Robert Canida, the director of Diversity and Inclusion at UNCP, said the Native American population has declined. He was the first director of the department in 2003 and since has tracked student diversity on campus.
He stated many reasons why the Native American population on campus is so low.
Through focus groups, Canida learned that “some Native American parents that went here would soon see their children somewhere else, and that is alarming.”
“Today, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke has approximately 6,200 students from diverse backgrounds. The University offers 41 undergraduate programs and 18 graduate programs,” and the total enrollment of minority students was 62 percent in 2015, while the Native American student enrollment was 15 percent, according to UNCP’s website.
Canida said he would like to see diversity on “an equal scale,” but he thinks the community will not see that.
The diversity at UNCP can become stronger, as Canida stated.
In the Fall of 2018, the NC Promise tuition program should increase enrollment, but Canida is unsure about Native American students, because financial problems may be an unknown factor.
Canida says that bigger universities recruit Native Americans from Robeson County, so their campus looks as diverse as UNCP.
UNCP is working with many organizations off campus to engage with Native American students and to recruit them to the university to increase the dynamics of the Native American population on campus.
If you would like to be more involved with the office of Diversity & Inclusion at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, feel free to contact Dr. Robert Canida at (910) 521-6508.