Each year, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine features 12 rising researchers, thinkers and leaders in its Emerging Scholars edition. In the January 2012 edition, Dr. Majel Boxer, assistant professor and chair of the Department of Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS), will be recognized as one of Diverse’s outstanding scholars under the age of 40, along with 11 other professors from colleges such as the University of Massachusetts, Cornell University, the University of Arizona and the University of Georgia.

“Majel is shaping our Native American and Indigenous Studies program into one that embraces cutting-edge scholarship while maintaining a strong commitment to students and the Native American tribal groups in our area: the Navajo, the Ute Mountain Utes and the Southern Utes,” says Dr. Linda Schott, dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, who nominated Dr. Boxer for the award. “She insists that students work hard and inspires them to do so. She’s gaining a strong reputation on campus as a hard-working, open-minded professor.”

Dr. Boxer joined Fort Lewis’s NAIS program in 2008 after completing her Ph.D. in ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She was appointed chair of the newly created Department of Native American and Indigenous Studies in fall 2011 and is also an affiliate faculty member of the Gender and Women’s Studies program.

“What brought me to Fort Lewis was the large Native American population,” says Dr. Boxer, who is an enrolled Dakota member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes. “Fort Lewis is dedicated to an historic mission to serve Native American peoples, and to me, that was a perfect fit. Since graduate school, I have known my career trajectory would be at a place where I could impact a high number of Native students. Fort Lewis is definitely that place.”

Receiving the Emerging Scholars accolade means more than earning an award, says Dr. Boxer. “It’s a great honor to be acknowledged for the work and research I do here, but it also pushes me to raise the bar for myself,” she says. “This recognition reminds me that part of being an excellent professor is continuing to conduct and publish high-quality research. I want to live up to the title of an ‘emerging scholar’ and develop a solid teaching and publishing record.”

Dr. Boxer’s top research priority these days is to expand her dissertation research on the indigenization of the museum, a historically Western institution that Native American people have increasingly embraced in the last century. “In my research, I’m finding that more and more tribal communities are opening museums and calling them cultural centers, which takes on a whole new meaning,” says Dr. Boxer. “I’m looking at how Native peoples reinvent the museum as a center that their community can claim as an accurate representation of their history and their people.”

In the higher education community, Dr. Boxer hopes her Diverse nod will further solidify Fort Lewis’s great reputation. “I believe this is just one more acknowledgment that Fort Lewis College is a wonderful college with an important mission,” she says. “I’m not the only faculty member who is very invested in making an impact. Students receive an outstanding education here, and I’m proud of that.”

Visit the Department of Native American and Indigenous studies

Read the article about Dr. Boxer in Diverse: Issues in Higher Education (page 13)