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U of L appoints director of Indigenous education and communications

Mike Frank is director of Indigenous education and communications at the University of Lethbridge.

The University of Lethbridge recently welcomed Mike Frank as director of Indigenous education and communications.

Frank has a long-standing and multi-faceted relationship with the U of L.

He recalls coming to campus at age five when his grandmother, the late Dr. Helen Manyfingers, received an honourary degree.

His mother, Lois Frank, was a U of L instructor and on top of that, Frank has 65 relatives who have earned U of L degrees and he has attended 33 convocation ceremonies.

Frank has been a student, research assistant and now rejoins the U of L as an employee.

“Starting my position as director of Indigenous education and communications allows me to build on the many student supports at the U of L,” Frank said. “My passion has always been helping with education and my work goal is to create supportive pathways for Indigenous students.”

The new position was created as a result of the EleV program, a partnership initiative between the University and the Mastercard Foundation.

The program, announced a year ago, is designed to create new opportunities for Indigenous, primarily Blackfoot, youth to access education and the needed supports to be successful, ultimately resulting in employment, economic inclusion and economic development opportunities within their communities.

“We are so pleased to have Mike join our team,” said Dr. Erasmus Okine, provost and vice-president (academic). “He has a broad range of skills and experience that will serve him well in his new role. I look forward to working closely with Mike to ensure Indigenous students succeed in their studies at the U of L and in their lives following university.”

The position is an integral part of the U of L’s Indigenous leadership and governance team.

Frank will be at the helm of establishing an office of Indigenous education and continuing the Indigenous strategic planning process.

Frank will also forge connections with Blackfoot political leadership and lead a team that will build strong relationships within Blackfoot communities.

“From my work with various First Nations as the CEO and executive director, one of my duties was to better the retention and graduation rates of students both on and off reserve at all levels,” Frank said. “As Indigenous people, we must continue to develop strong students at the post-secondary education level. I directed many potential students to a degree at the U of L. It has always been a strong academic institution, especially with its liberal education philosophy. Its structure is a credit to my success.”

Frank’s executive work experience began immediately after graduation as the director of operations and subsequently as the CEO for the Blood Tribe Department of Health.

He later became CEO for the McLeod Lake Indian Band in B.C., chief operating officer for the Nak’azdli Whut’en Indian Band at Fort St. James, B.C., CEO for the Salt River First Nation in Fort Smith, N.W.T., and CEO and executive director for the Paul First Nation near Edmonton.

Academically, Frank is working on a master of arts in corruption and governance through the University of Sussex. He also studied petroleum land administration at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and took police officer training at the Justice and Solicitor General Staff College.

“I’m glad to be back at the U of L,” Frank said. “Being an undergrad here is a highlight in my journey. Because the U of L has a strong administration team, I was able to ask for help to navigate my student career. As a student, I accessed the many academic and student supports available to become a better writer, access student housing and focus on my studies. In short, having a liberal education allowed me to have a solid base to work with Indigenous communities.”