Tech | December 13, 2020 11:11 am

Former Google CEO Endows Indigenous Studies Professorship at Princeton

Eric Schmidt contributed $5 million towards the new position

Princeton University
Change is coming to Princeton University via a former Google CEO.
Red de Leon/Creative Commons

In recent years, there’s been a growing movement to raise the profile of Indigenous Studies at institutes of higher learning. The University of Miami is taking steps towards establishing an Indigenous Studies program, to cite one example. And Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy recently used his platform to raise the profile of the University of Alberta’s Indigenous Studies program.

Now, Indigenous Studies is getting another boost — an endowed professorship at Princeton University. Leading this effort is former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his wife Wendy Schmidt, who contributed $5 million to create the new position.

At NJ.com, Josh Axelrod has more details on the process. “An interdisciplinary search committee will be created to find the first Eric and Wendy Schmidt Professor of Indigenous Studies,” Axelrod writes, “as endowed professorships are typically reserved for distinguished professors.”

The group Natives at Princeton greeted the news warmly, with an enthusiastic post on their Instagram. The post made the case for the professorship as the first step in something larger. “With a professor, now seems like a good time to establish a Native American and Indigenous Studies Certificate at Princeton, what do you think?” the group wrote.

Princeton’s announcement includes Wendy Schmidt’s thoughts on the importance of the new position. “It’s our hope that this professorship will play a vital role in advancing that complex conversation and will extend and complement Princeton’s academic and co-curricular activities, including those that engage and amplify the voices of faculty, students and alumni from Indigenous backgrounds,” she said.

As Axelrod’s article on the endowment notes, this will be the first professorship of its kind in the state of New Jersey. Hopefully it will mark the beginning of a larger embrace of Indigenous Studies across the state, and the country.

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