California State University, San Bernardino has appointed Native American educator and advocate Vincent Whipple as the university’s newly created director of Tribal Relations to increase the college-going rates and success of Native American students.
Whipple, who most recently served as the director of Recreation, Education and Youth Services for the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians in Northern San Diego County, will also lead CSUSB’s communication, engagement opportunities and special project alliances with all federally and/or state recognized tribal nations in California.
“We are excited at having Whipple join the campus as our new director of Tribal Relations,” said CSUSB President Tomas D. Morales.
“Establishing this position is a direct response to the lead recommendation by the Task Force for Native American Recruitment, a group impaneled as part of my presidential initiative to increase native enrollment here and at other universities statewide. I am firmly committed to making the recruitment, enrollment, retention and success of Native American students a high priority.”
Whipple said his goal is to convince Native Americans that the university is there to help, to support and to develop lasting partnerships and friendships. He said one of the toughest tasks he will face is gaining and developing the trust of Native Americans and tribes due to the history of negative treatment of Native Americans involving racism and genocide.
“We want to let tribes know that there are resources here to help in the success of Native students,” said Whipple. “CSUSB is a serious partner in for the long haul to help.”
Whipple said the university has shown its determination to work with Native American people that includes: creating the First Peoples Center in 2017 dedicated to supporting the academic achievement and personal success of indigenous students, serving as the hosting site of the San Manuel Pow Wow and hosting California Native American Day in September.
Last September, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians awarded an unprecedented three-year, $960,000 gift to CSUSB to increase the college-going rates and success of Native American students.
The grant’s goal will be to increase Native American student enrollment by 50 percent.
The grant will also sponsor two enrollment and outreach coordinators focused on building a pipeline from all high schools statewide to CSUSB, other California State University campuses or a University of California campus.
Whipple has served in a number of positions supporting and advocating education for Native Americans that includes:
Cultural Resources Manager for Rincon Band of Mission Indians;
Director of Education for the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians;
Tribal Partnership Specialist for the Los Angeles Regional Census Center;
Administrator for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians;
Associate Instructor on American Indian Dance at UC Riverside;
Coordinator for the Native American Student Center at Cal Poly Pomona;
Education Director for the Los Angeles American Education Office for the California Department of Education; and
Assistant Director of the American Indian Recruitment Program at UCLA.
Whipple, whose father is a member of the Lakota tribe from Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and whose mother is a member of the Navajo tribe, earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Harvard University, a master’s degree in American Indian Studies from UCLA and a doctorate in educational leadership from Fielding Graduate University.
Whipple and his wife, Michelle, live with their three daughters in Riverside.