For years students and alumni have appeased Student Affairs administrators about splitting what was once a joint position for Hispanic and Native American Affairs into two separate entities. Within the past year, their efforts were heard and the funding was approved, just before the economy took a turn for the worse. Dr. Tom Stafford fully supported the Assistant Director of Native American Affairs specifically because in years past, the former director Brett Locklear found himself torn amongst two very different populations. He too felt that the students would be better served if each group had its own director. During this transitional period, Locklear was granted a new administrative position within the graduate school. This was just the catalyst MultiCultural Student Affairs needed to begin a search committee in November 2008. Although, MSA was granted full funding for the salary of the new hire, their was a since of urgency in that if money was constantly being cut from the Student Affairs budget, there was a concern that the position would have to be offset. The hope for this position is to further engage Native students within leadership, scholarship and retain them until their graduation. Often times, native students come from small, tribal communities where all they tend to interact with are each other. Thus, attending NC State can prove to be a huge challenge for this small but potentially successful group of people. By filling void in their academic careers, the university has a firm understanding of the challenges and has a vested interest in furthering diversity efforts and maximizing their success. The committee met and retained over 80 applications; phone interviewed nine candidates and then invited four to campus for personal interviews and presentations about a given topic for the student body and offices throughout campus.
Derek Oxendine began his new position as the first assistant director of Native American student affairs, effective Monday February 2. His new home will reside within Multicultural Student Affairs and his services will render services specifically allocated to Native American students on campus. Oxendine’s position entails his full participation in planning for the annual Native American Symposium, workshop during the summer months to aid in the matriculation of incoming freshman students. He will also be instrumental in advising native students by over-arching all six Native American student organizations, which include four Greek letter organizations. American Indian Heritage Month and the annual N.C. State Pow Wows will keep Oxendine’s inbox full and duties endless. African-American, Hispanic and Native American students are the primary target group for the MSA Office but not exclusively. This office aids in several dynamics of the campus administrative tasks with include planning honors convocations, co-sponsoring large-scale lectures throughout the year, participate on a variety of campus task force and special topic committees, plus successfully houses the Peer Mentor Program which helps students during their freshman year.
Oxendine earned his bachelor’s degree from the University at North Carolina-Chapel Hill in Psychology and is currently completing a graduate degree from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro in Education in Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education. When asked about his long and short-term goals, Oxendine said in the future he hopes to, “Collaborate with on-going initiatives and develop new ideas that may not relate to current practices that will foster academic success, student satisfaction and student persistence.” He went further to say, “I also, seek to provide opportunities and resources that meet the challenges of diversity for the entire NCSU community.” Oxendine has vast experience in student relations during his graduate assistantship within the Dean of Students Office at UNC-G. There he worked directly with administrators to advocate on behalf of student’s concerns, gain valued experience in the classroom by facilitating workshops and organizing lecture material. During his graduate academic career Oxendine also obtained a position working as an intern in the Greek Life Office. Here his position entailed programming, updating and recreating initiatives for the web page and introducing students and their parents to Greek Life.
“My transition thus far has been very pleasant; I have begun to get my feet wet by attending several meetings across campus I have been able to connect with students, faculty and staff,” said Oxendine when asked about his matriculation into the university. With any new position or responsibility comes new challenges and ways to cope and move beyond those challenges to create. “Learning the ropes and details of the position will be a challenge. However, I welcome these challenges and look forward to learning more about my new role, as well as myself.” Oxendine also forsees, “the economic climate will be a persisting issue. Learning how to manage funds and being cost conscious in a time of budget cuts and economic downturn is of utmost importance. Learning how to deliver the same quality of service, with a lesser quantity of financial resources is imperative.”
As for his plans for the Native American community, Oxendine hopes to “continue to see annual events such as the Native American powwow held in April each year and cultural and educational programming during Native American Heritage Month during November.” In addition, “I also want to see events collaborated with the Union Activities Board, Mi Familia, The Women’s Center, University Housing, CSLEPS, Student Government, Asian Students Association, the organizations of African American Student Advisory Council, academic departments and many others.” “Any entity of the NCSU community that is willing to increase their understanding and cultural awareness” is fair game for collaboration with the Native American groups, said Oxendine.