New Chapter for AILRC

Apr 14, 2021

New assistant director to join the UMD American Indian Learning Resource Center on June 7.

Iris Carufel was recently hired as assistant director of the UMD American Indian Learning Resource Center (AILRC). A member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe and a descendant of the Ho-Chunk Nation and Flandreau Santee Dakota Sioux tribe, Carufel earned a bachelor’s degree in communication at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point and most recently worked as coordinator of its Native American Center.

The mission of the American Indian Learning Resource Center (AILRC) is to increase the recruitment and retention of American Indian and Alaskan Native students while promoting a more culturally diverse campus environment. Rick Smith served as AILRC director for more than 30 years before retiring in January. Former Assistant Director Lea Carr worked at the center for 19 years before her retirement last September.

The center is housed in the College of Education and Human Service Professions (CEHSP). “We’re thrilled to welcome Iris Carufel’s energy and talents as we begin this important new chapter of leadership at the AILRC,” said CEHSP Dean Jill Pinkney Pastrana. “I look forward to working with my new colleague to ensure our American Indian and Alaska Native students have an inclusive and fulfilling educational experience at UMD.”

In Carufel’s previous work, she served students from several tribal backgrounds with programs to help develop cultural, social, and academic skills. In her application materials, she called herself a “networker and community builder” and said she “believes cultural practices and traditions are an important part of student success in higher education.”

Professor Jill Doerfler, search committee co-chair, stated, "The search committee was impressed with Ms. Carufel's experience in building positive relationships and partnerships as well as by her vision to create a suite of interconnected academic, social, and cultural programming for our students. We think she is an excellent fit for UMD and look forward to working with her."