UA hires Dr. Pearl K. Brower to lead Alaska Native Success, diversity and inclusion efforts

by UA News  |   

In a major step toward improving the success of Alaska Native students, staff and faculty at the University of Alaska, Interim President Pat Pitney announced today that Dr. Pearl Brower will lead the development and implementation of diversity and inclusion strategies at the university.

Brower will be Senior Advisor for Alaska Native Success, Institutional Diversity and Student Engagement, and will report directly to the president. She has been tasked with coordinating recommendations developed through the Alaska Native Success Initiative and to foster partnerships between the UA system and the Alaska Federation of Natives, the 13 regional Native corporations and their foundation partners.

While each university in the system has programs and staff dedicated to equity and diversity, Brower will be available to advise the president, chancellors and other university system leaders on these critical issues, including engaging with the Alaska Native Studies Council, UA for Racial Justice and other university-affiliated groups to develop strategies for progress.

Over the past 10 months, the university has been deeply examining how to better server Alaska Native, black, Indigenous and other students, staff and faculty of color. The Board of Regents directed Pitney to address the system’s shortcomings in Alaska Native recruitment, retention and success. This led to the creation of the Alaska Native Success Initiative. Community and university members have developed a framework and actions that resulted from this process.

“We recognize that we are far from perfect, and must do better,” Pitney said. “Dr. Brower’s experience, education and passion for higher education is evident in everything she undertakes, and I look forward to the expertise she will bring to create meaningful and visible change across the UA system.”

Specifically, Brower will:

  • Lead the planning and strategic development of the Alaska Native Success Initiative in coordination with the ANSI steering committee and university action teams, with a focus on system strategies;
  • Develop an annual report as requested by the Alaska Federation of Natives;
  • Develop assessment tools that demonstrate change related to Alaska Native success, anti-racism, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the UA system;
  • Work with human resources to examine and update policies and procedures to address disparities in Alaska Native staffing and identify strategies to improve recruitment and retention;
  • Work with faculty governance on strategies to improve Alaska Native faculty recruitment and retention;
  • Help build stronger relationships between the UA system office, university leadership and programs within Alaska Native organizations and communities across the state, focusing on high workforce demand program areas (health care, accounting, aviation, etc.) and Alaska Native support services;
  • Conduct an analysis of underrepresented populations who do not see post-secondary education as part of their plans to identify ways the university system can better communicate the advantages of workforce training and education; and,
  • Represent the UA system office with partners across the state and beyond to advance recruitment and retention of students from underrepresented communities, including a focus on increasing FAFSA completion rates.

"The university offers an amazing, culturally diverse student body, but we can do more to incorporate who we are as Native people into all areas of university life and learning," Brower said. "We should be unapologetic about who we are as Alaskan Natives, and diversity, equity and inclusion should be felt throughout our universities. We need to encourage all staff to embrace the values that Alaska Natives bring as universal values, and we must always critically address our institutions and how they operate."

Brower holds a Ph.D. in Indigenous Studies with an emphasis on Indigenous leadership and has 13 years in higher education leadership, most recently as president of Alaska’s only Tribal College, Iḷisaġvik College. Prior to her tenure as president, Brower served as Iḷisaġvik’s Dean of Students and Institutional Development; Director of External Relations & Development; and, Special Assistant of External Affairs & Marketing for Iḷisaġvik. She also managed the college’s Foundation and was responsible for facilities planning capital campaign and facilities activities. View her full CV.

Brower describes herself as a servant leader who wants to be a part of solutions to create a healthier Alaska. “I am committed to stability, student success, working together and being transparent,” Brower said. “I am Alaska homegrown and a place-based leader, and I want to accelerate excellence through continuous improvement.”

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