Native American Leaders To Visit Campus As Part of Recruiting Effort

Assistant Dean of Admission Jose Powell and Director of Student of Color Recruiting Susan Mantilla-Goin recently received a $15,000 Abbot Grant to sponsor a visit from Native American education, tribal and community leaders from the Southwest. The leaders will determine whether Phillips Academy, as a school and a community, is able to support Native American students. The goal of their visit will be to increase the presence of Native American students at Phillips Academy. There are six currently enrolled students who identified themselves as Native or part-Native, according to data collected from a question regarding racial and ethnic identity that students opted to answer on their application forms. This number has been consistent in the past ten years, ranging from a high of 10?Native students to a low of about four. On average, this constituency is about .5 of the overall student population. The visit from the Native American leaders will most likely span two days and is scheduled to occur in 2008 sometime between mid-April and mid-May. “We’ve envisioned [the Native American leaders’ visit] as an educational opportunity for those folks visiting to learn about the school to see if this is something they can see for their students,” said Mantilla-Goin. The number of leaders traveling to Andover, which is based on the expenses of airfare and accommodations, has yet to be determined. Powell and Mantilla-Goin have also not yet decided which Native American leaders will visit. “It will be an eclectic group. Some [of the leaders] will be school-based, such as guidance counselors. Some may be administrators, like principals. Others may be leaders within community-based organizations,” said Powell. “But many are yet to be identified. We’re going to go through a collaborative process in terms of identifying which individuals will utilize the opportunity and maximize the opportunity most by coming to Andover.” This Abbot Grant sponsors one of the first concerted efforts to expand Andover’s recruitment of Native American students specifically. This year, the Admission Office has focused more on visiting areas with higher concentrations of Native students, especially in the southwestern region of the United States. “I feel like the community as a whole and the CAMD office really tries to support all students,” said Mantilla-Goin. “But we haven’t had a critical mass of Native American students, so we haven’t had any programming specifically for them. So this is our first major initiative, and it’s guided by the Strategic Plan and the mission of the school to educate ‘youth from every quarter,’” she added. “Through MS2, there certainly has been a relationship with Native students. But as an academy as a whole, this is really our first and exciting step [to expand recruitment of Native students],” said Powell. The visit from Native American leaders follows the visit from Dr. Whitney Laughlin, an educational consultant who advised the Admission Office on the recruitment of Native American students, last September. After observing Andover, Laughlin prepared a report that discussed the community’s readiness to support Native students. In her report, she stated that Andover was a diverse community that should be able to support Native students but still had room for improvement. Deborah Murphy, Senior Associate Dean of Admission, “Some areas where we can improve would be the recruitment of Native faculty and the addition of new courses to our curriculum. Dr. Laughlin found the community to be welcoming and receptive to different cultures, which is also a key ingredient in the transition and support of Native students.” Powell said that that Dr. Laughlin’s visit and evaluation of the school was an impetus for the Abbot grant that will bring Native American leaders to Andover. He recently returned from a trip to the Southwest in early November. Powell visited nine schools that have significant Native population, primarily in New Mexico and Arizona. Murphy said, “We hope that they will learn about Phillips Academy, have a positive experience during their visit and go back to their communities and spread what they have learned. Their vote of confidence in our school will empower members of their community to step out of their comfort zone and explore the possibilities at Andover. We also hope to gain their perspective on ways that Andover can support their students if they are admitted and choose to come to Phillips Academy.” Mantilla-Goin said, “We’re really thankful to have gotten this Abbot grant. We’re really excited about the opportunities that it presents to the school, to the potential Andover students and to the current student body.”