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American Indian Education Research Center Established at Penn State

The center is expected to serve as a clearinghouse on American Indian/Alaska Native education research, policy, and practice.


The mission of the Center for the Study of Leadership in American Indian Education is to conduct research and outreach that helps inform the public and improve the education of American Indians and Alaska Natives at the local, state, tribal, national, and international levels.

The center, housed in the Education Policy Studies Department, will serve as a clearinghouse on American Indian/Alaska Native education research, policy, and practice. It is expected to significantly increase the amount and quality of research and publications in the field of Indian education and disseminate research findings to practicing educators and policy makers.

faircloth_susan.jpgFelicia Wilkins Turner, assistant professor of educational leadership, serves as the center’s interim director.

The center builds on and extends Penn State’s tradition of preparing leaders in the field of American Indian and Alaska Native education. Penn State is also the home of the American Indian Leadership Program (AILP). The AILP is the nation’s longest continuously operating educational leadership program for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Since 1970, the AILP has graduated nearly 215 American Indian/Alaska Native students. These graduates have earned master’s and doctoral degrees in educational administration/leadership and special education and have gone on to assume leadership positions at a variety of levels. The AILP and the research center will work collaboratively to maintain a focus on the preparation of educational leaders.

"We are delighted to see this growth in Penn State’s commitment to the study of American Indian education," said David Monk, dean of the College of Education. "The new center will build upon the impressive accomplishments of the AILP and will strengthen the knowledge base we need to sustain improvements in the quality of schools serving American Indian students throughout the nation."

According to John Tippeconnic, former co-director of the center, “the new center presents an opportunity for Penn State to move the research agenda in Indian education forward and, along with the American Indian Leadership Program, prepare future researchers.”

Susan Faircloth echoed these thoughts. According to her, “as we approach the 40th anniversary of the American Indian Leadership Program at Penn State, we continue to seek ways in which we can engage both scholars and practitioners in the improvement of education for American Indian and Alaska Native students, schools, and communities across the nation. The establishment of the new research center is an integral step in this process. We look forward to our continued work in this arena.”

The center looks to host an annual research and policy institute, in collaboration with Indian Studies programs that are tied to the Big Ten’s Committee on Institutional Cooperation and other organizations. They also anticipate sponsoring a research-focused preconference event to be held in conjunction with a national conference, such as the annual meeting of the National Indian Education Association.

For more information, please contact Wilkins Turner at 204G Rackley Building, University Park, PA 16802, or e-mail