The University of Wisconsin-Madison has appointed Aaron Bird Bear to be its first-ever director of tribal of relations.
According to a news release from UW Communications, Bird Bear will work to foster strong ties between the 12 First Nations of Wisconsin and the university. He will represent the UW–Madison Division of Extension leadership in collaborations with tribal communities.
Bird Bear, a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa & Diné nations, currently serves as the School of Education’s assistant dean for student diversity programs.
“Strengthening our relationships with the First Nations of Wisconsin is one of our highest priorities, and we are excited that someone of Aaron’s experience and knowledge has agreed to help us advance this effort in partnership with the American Indian nations and communities of Wisconsin,” says Chancellor Rebecca Blank in a statement. “Aaron is a recognized leader who brings to this role an acute awareness of the university’s history on Native issues and a deep understanding of the work that needs to be done.”
At least 14 other universities have similar positions, most of them in western states.
Bird Bear earned a bachelor’s degree in physical oceanography from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1995 and a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy analysis from UW–Madison in 2010. He will start his new position on Nov. 1.