New dean of native studies

(Edmonton) The University of Alberta welcomes a new dean to its Faculty of Native Studies.

The U of A Board of Governors is pleased to announce the appointment of Brendan Hokowhitu as dean of the faculty. His appointment commences July 1, 2012, for a five-year term of office.

Hokowhitu comes to the U of A from his present appointments as associate professor at Te Tumu, the School of Mãori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies, and as inaugural associate dean (Mãori) for the Division of Humanities, at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

“We are pleased to welcome Professor Hokowhitu as dean of the Faculty of Native Studies,” said Carl Amrhein, provost and vice-president (academic) of the U of A. “He considers the faculty to be a leader in Indigenous studies and looks forward to helping further its goals. His commitment to promoting and supporting quality research in a collaborative and interdisciplinary manner will enhance the profile of Indigenous studies at the University of Alberta.”

While his academic career is rooted in his own Mãori people of New Zealand, Hokowhitu’s focus is concerned with the broader scope of Indigenous studies, as he sees parallels in the histories of Indigenous peoples across the globe. Hokowhitu is committed to propelling Indigenous studies forward, and was drawn to the U of A for its established reputation as a leader in the field.

“The Faculty of Native Studies has an excellent reputation, with some of its staff producing critical work that is helping to shape Indigenous studies,” he said, adding that the potential is rich for further developing the discipline.
“The field of Indigenous studies is extremely young, and scholars in this area in the next 10 to 20 years have the responsibility of determining where it goes. I see the U of A being at the forefront.”

Hokowhitu holds a PhD in Mãori studies/physical education, a masters of arts and two bachelor’s degrees. During the course of his academic career, he has earned a research reputation that is highly respected nationally and internationally. His scholarly focus is on Indigenous studies in the areas of health, culture and theory, sport and physical education, film and media, and masculinity.

Among his achievements, Hokowhitu is a leader in innovative teaching, having developed the world’s first completely online Master of Indigenous Studies program, reaching well beyond New Zealand to Indigenous peoples and other scholars across the globe.

As a researcher, Hokowhitu aims to help in continuing to define the field of Indigenous studies. He was a principal investigator in a study about prospective outcomes of injury, funded by a $1.7-million grant from the Health Research Council of New Zealand. As well, he is an inaugural elected officer of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, a key group in this developing field.

Hokowhitu envisions the U of A Faculty of Native Studies as contributing to the education of students across the campus, and as dean, he plans to build on the faculty’s strength and capacity as an innovative leader in Indigenous studies.

“Along with an accomplished faculty and impressive students and alumni, I’d like to play a part in furthering our goals, including increasing recruitment and collaboration, further defining indigeneity, and broadening the plurality of Indigenous studies.”

Professor Nathalie Kermoal is serving as interim dean of the faculty until Hokowhitu arrives to begin his term in 2012. He will succeed Ellen Bielawski, who was dean from 2003 to 2011.