MISSOULA – The University of Montana has selected Dr. Karla Bird, former president of Blackfeet Community College, as its tribal outreach specialist in the Office of the President. She will begin Jan. 3, 2023.

A member of the Amskapi Piikani Nation (Blackfeet), Dr. Bird will play a pivotal role in helping UM create and sustain meaningful relationships with tribal communities while building bridges for Native students to pursue higher education and realize their dreams.

“This role is vital for the University of Montana,” UM President Seth Bodnar said. “Dr. Bird comes to UM with a wealth of experience that will benefit all of us. I look forward to learning from and partnering with her as we continually work to ensure UM prioritizes excellence in Native American education.”

Dr. Bird holds a UM doctorate in educational leadership with an emphasis in higher education. She also received an M.A. in counselor education, as well as a B.A. in psychology with a research emphasis/minor in Native American studies.

Dr. Bird will serve as a UM liaison to tribal communities in the region, as a key adviser and partner to the campus community, and as a resource and support to prospective and current Native students. Bringing expertise in educational persistence among Native American graduate students, Bird will work to bolster the strength and resiliency of Native students in the UM community.

At UM, she will build upon the impressive contributions of a talented community of Native faculty and staff, elevate Indigenous scholarship and help sustain recent UM success in recruiting and retaining Native students, including a 24% increase in Native American undergraduate enrollment and a 13% increase in retention since 2018.

Bodnar created the tribal outreach specialist position in 2018 at the recommendation of Montana’s tribal college presidents during their annual meeting. The on-campus President’s Native American Advisory Council then crafted the position as a key component of UM’s focus on inclusive prosperity and student success.

Dr. Bird will be a member of the President’s Office staff and will report to Chief of Staff Kelly Webster.

“The Griz community could not be more excited about Dr. Bird’s decision to join our team,” Webster said “She is a deeply respected expert across Montana, a national leader in tribal education and a champion for higher education as an inclusive, transformative vehicle for all. The UM community will be better because of Dr. Bird’s partnership.”

- by UM News Service -

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