Commission Fullbright recipient visits UAF

Cordero Reid/Sun Star Reporter
Oct. 1, 2013

A visitor enters on a sunny Tuesday afternoon as students shuffle into the Alumni lounge for a promised lunch and a speech.  Cara Hollingsworth, LIVE program director introduces Dr. Michelle Evans to around 18 students spanning diverse majors before turning the floor over to Evans to speak to students about her leadership experience.

Dr. Michelle Evans is a 2013 Australian-American Commission Fulbright  scholarship recipient.

The Fulbright program is an international educational exchange program of the U.S. Government. It focuses on improving cultural relations between the United States and participating countries.

Evans is also a Research fellow at the Melbourne Business School leading in indigenous business and leadership development. Interested in the Native Arts program here in Alaska, Evans contacted the School of Management and spoke to Nicole Cundiff, director of Northern Leadership Center about her interest in UAF’s Native arts and leadership programs. NLC asked Evans to become part of the Susan Herman Distinguished Speaker Series.

Evans spoke at two events on campus last week, starting  with the LIVE Leadership Lunch about leadership, then with Students Offering Leadership Development for networking. This Thursday, October 3, Evans Will be speaking in the Wood Center Ballroom Thursday night for the Susan Herman Distinguished Speaker Series lecture “Navigating the Territories of Indigenous Leadership,” put on by NLC and the School of Management.

Dr. Evans is here in the United States to speak and examine programs at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the University of California and the University of Hawaii for six months.

She wants  to recreate her doctoral research in indigenous leadership in the arts while she is traveling by investigating Native Alaskan, First American and Native Hawaiian artists and managers and compare them to her Australian research.

The research examines how leadership develops while indigenous artists and their leaders form intricate bonds while creating amazing works of art. Da-ka-xeen Mehner is an Assistant Professor for the Native Arts at UAF and was one of the reasons Evans chose to come to UAF.

“I was excited by Da-ka-xeen Mehner’s artistic work as it speaks to much of the contemporary visual arts work I am familiar with from Australia. I was also inspired by the breadth and depth of work the NLC is doing across the state and in Fairbanks,” Evans said.

Australia has a diverse art culture, “Indigenous arts in Australia is the most dynamic and exciting work coming out in Australia today. It is diverse, vibrant and deals with historical, environmental, social, cultural and personal themes that I find very powerful.” Evans is hoping to find and encourage that in the U.S.

Her experience at UAF has been well received,  “I am very excited by the level of student volunteering and student activism at UAF. I like the commitment students have here to the broader community. The LIVE program is exemplary,” Evans said.

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