Keynote and Plenary Speakers

Opening Plenary: Culturally Attuned Mentoring Paradigms – Relationships in Community Context

Sweeney Windchief (Fort Peck Assiniboine Tribe), Assistant Professor of Adult and Higher Education, Montana State University

Session Description: How do mentors learn to mentor? Professional mentoring in higher education typically mirrors higher education in the contemporary American context, meaning that we tend to mentor the way we were mentored. This presentation builds upon the implementation of a program designed to develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions of faculty who mentor American Indian and Alaska Native graduate students in the STEM fields and is recalibrated for current faculty in other fields as well as those considering academia as a career. The goal of this session is for participants to consider how they can become active in co-constructing their own, identity informed, professional mentor/mentee platform. We also will discuss the concept of self-authorship in order to activate one’s own agency in developing a “constellation of mentors”. Different Institutional types and the specific disciplines in which we work have their own unique cultures, geographies, infrastructure, and resources that need to be considered.

Headshot of Sweeney WindchiefSpeaker Bio: Dr. Sweeney Windchief (Fort Peck Assiniboine Tribe) is Assistant Professor of Adult and Higher Education at Montana State University.  Dr. Windchief earned an Ed.D. in educational leadership and policy with an emphasis on higher education administration, an M.A. in counselor education from the University of Montana and a B.S. from the University of Central Oklahoma. He is part of the PNW-COSMOS team for the Pacific Northwest AGEP, which seeks to increase the representation of Native American graduate students in STEM. His research interests include critical race theory, indigenous epistemologies, indigenous peoples and higher education, indigenous intellectualism, and mentorship.  Dr. Windchief teaches Critical Race Theory, Indigenous Methodologies in Research, Law, and Policy in Higher Education, and Institutional Research.  His outreach and community engagement include presentations at local elementary schools on Montana’s Indian Education for all Act.

Dr. Windchief’s most recent articles include: Developing an Indigenous Mentoring Program for AI/AN graduate students in STEM fields, The Sharing of Indigenous Knowledge through Academic Means by Implementing Self-reflection and Story, and In Reciprocity: Responses to Critique of Indigenous Methodologies In Education. He recently published a co-edited book entitled, Applying Indigenous Research Methods: Storying with Peoples and Communities, with Dr. Timothy SanPedro. Prior to moving to Montana State University, Dr. Windchief held various positions in higher education institutions, including serving as the coordinator of graduate fellowships and special projects at the American Indian Graduate Center in Albuquerque, N.M. and the Assistant Dean for Diversity at the University of Utah. Previously, he advised and recruited historically underrepresented students at both the University of Montana and Idaho State University.

(Please contact the organizers for a recorded archive of this talk, available to Cornell audiences.)

[9:10-10:40 am]

Luncheon Keynote: Advancing Inclusive Research and Education Environments

Rory Cooper, Associate Dean for Inclusion, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and FISA/Paralyzed Veterans of America Distinguished Professor, University of Pittsburgh

Session Description: As science and engineering (S&E) jobs continue to remain unfilled, developing the untapped potential of people with disabilities (PwD) in engineering-related fields is suggested to increase our nation’s competitiveness and growth. However, gaining employment in the S&E workforce is dependent on successful completion of S&E degree programs. Nearly 22% of the U.S. population has some form of a disability. One of the most (13%) prevalent disability types in the U.S. adult population is physical disabilities. Approximately 7.2% of people with a bachelor’s degree in the S&E workforce have a disability, but not necessarily a physical disability. The National Science Foundation report on the percentage of the S&E workforce does not specify disability type. Understanding the issues and interventions found in a S&E education and work environment from the perspective of people with disabilities who have experience in the postsecondary educational pipeline can ultimately lead to S&E employment. Although a large portion (13%) of adults with disabilities have physical disabilities, students with physical disabilities remain a small portion (2.1%) of the undergraduate population. This underrepresentation may be due to barriers PwD face in the postsecondary setting. Barriers and facilitators PwD encounter are typically influenced by their physical and social environment, and the education environment is no exception. Literature suggests three broad categories in which barriers and facilitators to participation in education may be grouped: (1) the architectural built environment; (2) executing tasks in the educational space; and (3) the learning environment (e.g., interaction with student peers and instructors).

Headshot of Rory Cooper

Speaker Bio: Rory A. Cooper is the Founding Director and VA Senior Research Career Scientist of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, a VA Rehabilitation R&D Center of Excellence in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh. He earned a Ph.D. in electrical & computer engineering with a concentration in bioengineering from University of California at Santa Barbara, and B.S. and M.Eng. degrees in electrical engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.  Dr. Cooper has authored or co-authored over 350 peer-reviewed journal publications, and has 20 patents awarded or pending. He is the author of two books,  Rehabilitation Engineering Applied to Mobility and Manipulation and Wheelchair Selection and Configuration. He is also co-editor of An Introduction to Rehabilitation Engineering, Warrior Transition Leader: Medical Rehabilitation Handbook, and the award-winning book, Care of the Combat Amputee. Dr. Cooper is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, as well as RESNA, IEEE, AIMBE, and BMES. He is a former President of RESNA, and a member of the IEEE-EMBS Medical Device Standards Committee. In 1988, he was a bronze medalist in the Paralympic Games, Seoul Republic of Korea. Dr. Cooper was on the steering committee for the 1996 Paralympic Scientific Congress held in Atlanta, GA, and the Sports Scientist for the 2008 U.S. Paralympic Team in Beijing, China. In 2013, Dr. Cooper was awarded the International Paralympic Scientific Achievement Award.

[12:10-1:40 pm]