University of Utah granted $1M for Pacific Islands Studies Program

Mar 29, 2022, 4:51 PM
University of Utah...
FILE PHOTO: Campus of the University of Utah. (Jordan Allred/Deseret News)
(Jordan Allred/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah received a $1 million grant from the Mellon Foundation. The School for Cultural and Social Transformation, known as Transform, will use the grant to support its Pacific Islands Studies Program. 

The U. said it would use the grant to expand the program with a graduate certificate, new faculty members, and a Center for Pasifika and Indigenous Knowledges.

“In a word, we’re overjoyed,” said Kathryn Bond Stockton, dean of the School for Cultural and Social Transformation. “This tremendous ongoing support from the Mellon Foundation will allow PI Studies faculty, staff, and community members to realize collective visions for how Indigenous knowledges will shape and enrich all who embrace them.”

The University of Utah and the Pacific Islander community

The university said it is in a unique position to support the Pacific Islander community, citing the size of the community in Utah. Salt Lake City has the highest proportion of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders of all U.S. cities, according to the Utah Department of Health.

“It is an immense privilege to be at an institution where none of us– students, faculty or staff –is the only Pacific Islander,” said Maile Arvin, co-principal investigator and director of Pacific Islands Studies.

“When we don’t have to prove to others that we exist or that the issues impacting our communities are not marginal, we have so much more space to pursue what interests us. The success of our program lies in the mutual support and relationships we continue to grow across our campus, our local communities, and our international networks,” Arvin said.

How the Mellon grant helped before

A Mellon grant helped move the PI Studies initiative forward in 2018, according to the school. 

The university said it hired five new faculty members that focus on PI Studies since beginning the initiative. It also developed an official interdisciplinary PI Studies Certificate that is available to students of any major according to the school.

Students outside of the program also have had the chance to engage in PI Studies in other ways.

A five-day intensive summer program, the Pasifika Scholars Bridge Program, is aimed at first-year and transfer students. The program sprouted the Pasifika Scholars Institute, which is a webinar series that runs through the school year.

What’s coming next

“We are excited to continue to offer Pacific Islands-focused programming for our students and PI communities near and far,” said Arvin. “One new venture will be producing a podcast that can highlight cutting-edge research and activism led by Pacific Islanders and other Indigenous peoples.”

Transform said it will use the next three years to build:

  • A graduate certificate; which the school said will help prepare students entering doctoral programs with a PI Studies focus.
  • A Center for Pasifika and Indigenous Knowledges; which the school said is the “next logical step” to organizing the PI Studies staff and students.
  • An International Network of Trans-Indigenous Scholars; which seeks to bring connection between PI and Native people.

“We warmly thank the Mellon Foundation for funding the meaningful work we’re extending with brand new plans,” Stockton said. “To be blessed with large and vital PI communities here—and expert faculty and staff to guide such communal exchange—is to be so grateful for a funding Foundation as eager as we are to deepen these ties.”

Related: BYU takes home National Landscaping Championship title




We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team. here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

west valley fire department are pictured...
Samantha Herrera

West Valley house fire leaves 80-year-old dead

An 80-year-old West Valley resident has died in a house fire. Authorities responded to the fire around 1 a.m. Friday morning.
10 hours ago
a businessman is pictured looking at something, men in the workforce...
Chris Jacobs

Men without college degrees leaving the workforce, according to new study

The study claims social status is likely a driving factor in men without degrees leaving the workforce because pay often indicates social status.
10 hours ago
Thousands of previously banned Twitter users have begun to have their accounts restored to the plat...
Clare Duffy, CNN Business

The mass unbanning of suspended Twitter users is underway

Twitter accounts that had previously been banned are beginning to be restored to the platform, according to a independent analysis.
10 hours ago
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 3: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for a vote August...
Jeremy Herb, CNN

Sinema leaving the Democratic Party and registering as an independent

Sinema declined to address questions about her reelection bid in the interview with Tapper, saying that simply isn't her focus right now.
10 hours ago
holiday deals...
Matt Egan, CNN

Shoppers are dipping into savings and going into debt. That could cause a holiday hangover

The problem, however, is that many Americans' paychecks are not keeping up with stubborn inflation.
10 hours ago
Wasatch County Sheriff's Office...
Mark Jones

Highland man dies in snowmobile accident in Wasatch County

A 51-year-old man from Highland died in a snowmobile accident Tuesday afternoon in Wasatch County, according to the Wasatch County Sheriff's Office.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
University of Utah granted $1M for Pacific Islands Studies Program