Dr. Gralewicz selected to receive UW System's 2015 Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award

July 27, 2015

Dr. Renee Gralewicz, been selected as the recipient of the University of Wisconsin System's 2015 Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award. The award will be formally presented at the Annual Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award Ceremony and Luncheon scheduled for Friday, October 9, 2015, at the Gordon Dining and Event Center on the UW-Madison campus.

Dr. Renee Gralewicz, Associate Professor of Anthropology at UW-Fox Valley and Vice Chair of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology for the University of Wisconsin Colleges, has taught in the University of Wisconsin Colleges since 1997 after completing a dissertation on the effects of federal policies on Indian health and earning her Ph.D. in anthropology from Washington State University. From 1997-2008, Dr. Gralewicz taught Anthropology and Sociology at the Barron County campus of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and transfered to the UW-Fox Valley campus in 2008.

A member of the Brothertown tribe, Dr. Gralewicz has worked tirelessly on Native American issues for more than twenty years, both as an educator and through her work with her tribe.

Dr. Gralewicz has served for many years on the University of Wisconsin System American Indian Studies Consortium. This important group, formed by a number of Native American educators, sets standards for AIS programs, including standards for the approaches and assumptions of the curriculum. In addition, Dr. Gralewicz has participated in the UW System’s Access2Success initiative to recruit and retain American Indian students.

Within the UW Colleges, Dr. Gralewicz has been the most and most consistently active advocate for Native American students and for American Indian Studies (AIS). Dr. Gralewicz was instrumental in crafting the UW Colleges American Indian Studies program, first in developing the interdisciplinary American Indian Studies core course – AIS 101 (American Indian Studies) – and more recently in leading an effort to improve the program. On the latter, Dr. Gralewicz has brought together instructors from across disciplines to work toward institutionalizing processes for approving instructors, broadening the program’s curriculum, improving transfer of courses, and expanding AIS offerings across the UW Colleges’ thirteen campuses and online. Dr. Gralewicz also writes about and regularly provides guest lectures – to classes of predominantly white students – on contemporary Native American identities and cultures.

Dr. Gralewicz’s efforts have not stopped at the door of the traditional university. Instead, she has deliberately reached out, for a much wider audience, to foster greater understanding of contemporary American Indian experiences, culture, and issues. One example that illustrates this is the way she identified a need and then developed an online course, offered through Continuing Education, for out of state teachers seeking licensure in Wisconsin; the course meets Department of Public Instruction and state statutory requirements for coursework on Wisconsin Indian culture, sovereignty and history. This course, taken only by non-Native students to date, does not shy from contemporary controversy. Instead, it tackles some of the toughest contemporary issues (gaming and mascots, for instance) and ties them to the group’s history and sovereignty for context.

Dr. Gralewicz’s work and passion go beyond teaching. For years, in addition to serving as tribal secretary (2009-2014) and as tribal Veteran Contact coordinator (as a veteran herself), she has worked with tribal members to regain federal recognition of the Brothertown tribe. She and this group have shown tremendous persistence in this arduous, long-term effort. But even Dr. Gralewicz’s tribal work involves students, as in the internship she created to assist a language and cultural archiving initiative involving the Brothertown, Oneida and Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans.

Taken together, this wide-ranging service shows an effort on Dr. Gralewicz’s part to create an environment that paves the way for Native American students, to foster settings for greater understanding of Native American cultures and experiences by the wider community, and to use her academic training and time on behalf of her tribal community.

The Department of Anthropology and Sociology in the University of Wisconsin Colleges is proud to have her as a colleague and leader.