Dean Shelly Lowe is leaving one Ivy Native American program for another — one in Cambridge.
Lowe, director of the University’s Native American Cultural Center, will leave Yale in June to become the executive director of the Harvard University Native American Program. In her new position, Lowe will have the opportunity to continue her doctorate research on higher education, with a focus on American Indian student success and services, as well as to continue to organize academic programming for Native American students.
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“Based on the depth and breadth of Shelly’s experience, expertise and ideas, everyone here felt that she was the best person to take the new lead as Executive Director,” said Steven Abbott, the Harvard program’s associate director of recruitment and student affairs, in an e-mail message.
At Harvard, Lowe will first oversee a review of Harvard’s program and will then move to planning new initiatives.
For the past two years, Lowe has worked with students and faculty to increase awareness of issues pertaining to Native American students in the Yale and wider Ivy League communities. While at Yale, Lowe has helped acquire a separate space for the center in the same building as the Asian American Cultural Center, build Yale’s recruitment of Native American students and guide formal alumni interactions.
Lowe said, though, that working with the students involved in the center has been the most rewarding aspect of her time at Yale.
“They have worked hard in the last two years to be a real presence within the Native American Ivy League student population,” she said in an e-mail. “I have enjoyed supporting their goals and initiatives.”
While an acting director for the center will be announced at the beginning of the summer, the search for a permanent director will be delayed until eminent American history scholar Ned Blackhawk — an associate professor of history and American Indian studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison — joins the Yale faculty in June.
“I think we’re going to work with Ned Blackhawk,” Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry said of the search for a new director. “He’s coming to teach here at Yale and we’re going to wait for his input.”
Blackhawk declined on Wednesday to comment on his involvement with the decision-making process but added that Lowe’s decision to leave Yale for Harvard must have been a difficult one.
“As someone who is leaving one academic community to join another, I know how hard these decisions and processes remain,” Blackwell said in an e-mail.
American studies assistant professor Alyssa Mt. Pleasant, who is on the center’s advisory board, said Lowe’s “energy, vision and commitment” has resulted in many positive changes in the Native American community during her time at Yale. She noted in particular the “strong foundation” that Lowe has laid down for the center.
Lowe serves on the board of directors of the National Museum of the American Indian.