Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 55.78
Liaison Jennifer McLaughlin
Submission Date Dec. 9, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

South Dakota State University
IN-26: Innovation C

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Jennifer McLaughlin
Sustainability Intern
Facilities and Services
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Wokini Initiative

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

A brainchild of South Dakota State University’s President, Barry Dunn, The Wokini Initiative is a one-of-a-kind program that provides innovative university and community partnerships to advance American Indian student success.

As a land-grant university, South Dakota State University’s mission is to serve the sate of South Dakota through providing access to the benefits of higher education for all people. Currently, SDSU’s American Indian student population comprises less than 2 percent of its student body, and those who do attend have a lower graduation rate than their cohort.

Specifically, SDSU strives to better serve South Dakota’s American Indian population. In order to achieve this goal, SDSU will use the Wokini Initiative to increase the number of American Indian students, support their academic success, and boost their graduation rate.

SDSU will provide sustainable resources for the Wokini Initiative by dedicating its annual revenue from the South Dakota Permanent Trust Fund to the effort. The state’s Permanent Trust Fund holds 120,000 acres of land granted to the state in 1889 by the federal government to support SDSU’s land grant mission. Much of the land granted to SDSU had been promised in the 1868 Ft, Laramie Treaty as protected reservation lands to the tribes of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires), a collective reference to the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people. The university will invest revenue generated by this land, coupled with focused fundraising efforts, in innovative strategies to recruit, retain and graduate American Indian students.

The Wokini Initiative will provide a holistic model to achieve these goals in a number of ways:
• Establishing Wokini Scholarships for qualifying students enrolled in a South Dakota
• Constructing and maintaining a new stand-alone American Indian Student Center
• Providing intentional student retention advising, counseling and life-skills
• Recruiting American Indian students utilizing culturally appropriate recruitment
strategies and building relationships with their families
• Offering summer programming to engage American Indian middle and high school students
• Building authentic and respectful relationships with tribal communities
• Building an inclusive campus environment
• Establishing internal Wokini Challenge Grants to SDSU employees to promote innovate
student recruitment and retention strategies across campus
• Supporting American Indian Studies events and other cultural events on campus.

The groundwork for Wokini began in 2016 and a program director was hired in 2018. Successes to date include:
• Hired an American Indian Student Recruiter
• Established Wokini Scholarships through the SDSU Foundation
o 15 scholarships for incoming Freshman
 Up to $5,000 each year for up to 5 years
o Transfer student
 Up to $5,000 each year for up to 3 years
• Established Challenge Grant
o Up to $10,000 for a campus project that supports Wokini efforts.
• Continued assistance with ties between researchers and American Indian tribes to
ensure research is culturally respectful and engages the American Indian community in
a way that fits their needs.
• Cultural competence training including the Indigenizing Spaces Summit
o This Summit will focus on understanding historical and inter-generational trauma,
research ethics with Tribal Nations, and building research infrastructure in
tribal communities. We will be extending invitations to TCU staff, faculty and
tribal researchers to attend this Summit and hope to provide opportunities for
SDSU researchers to make valuable connections and lay the foundation for long-
term research partnerships.
• Continued support for American Indian tribes in workforce development
• Supported tribal colleges in their Higher Learning Commission accreditation
o Expanding the Circle Program
 South Dakota State University is committed to providing higher education
opportunities to fulfill the need for faculty members at Tribal Colleges and
Universities to acquire graduate credits to meet HLC standards, as well as
offer online graduate level courses for faculty/staff at technical and
community colleges and K-12 schools.
• Began construction of American Indian Student Center. Complete date for the new
building is set for Summer 2020.
• Aid in Wacipi powwow funding
• Aid in funding peer mentors
• Aid in funding symposium for American Indian Studies academic program"

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Diversity & Affordability

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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