Honors Lecturer Explores Factors Supporting American Indian Student Success

A Bemidji State University psychology professor will explore the unique relationship American Indians have with higher education and share results of his research into factors that can help or hinder an American Indian student’s success in college.

Dr. John Gonzalez, professor of psychology, will present “American Indian College Student Development” on Jan. 31 as part of the university’s Honors Council Lecture Series. The presentation will begin at 7 p.m. in Hagg-Sauer Hall 100 on the BSU campus.

The Honors Council Lecture Series provides a forum for BSU faculty to share their expertise and the results of their research with the Bemidji community. Honors Council lectures are open to everyone free of charge.

“American Indians have a unique history with formal education,” Gonzalez said. “This history has a profound impact and contributes the educational disparities that exist in achievement opportunities and the achievement gap. As a result, the educational development of American Indian students may not be the same as white students.”

Gonzalez will give a brief history of American Indian education and share research that tests a theory of American Indian college student development. In addition, he will share research into several factors that help and hamper American Indian student success.

About Dr. John Gonzalez

Dr. John Gonzalez is Ojibwe/Anishinaabe from White Earth and a professor of psychology at Bemidji State University. His professional interests focus on cultural psychology, which attempts to understand people as cultural beings through their own indigenous psychological perspectives; multicultural psychology, which takes into account the peoples cultural, historical and sociopolitical contexts; and community psychology, which actively works to enhance the strengths and quality of life in communities.

His research interests include mental and behavioral health disparities for indigenous people and ethnic and racial minorities. He has worked with indigenous communities using local cultural knowledge and values to develop suicide- and substance abuse-prevention programs. He also has investigated the racial experiences of American Indian students and Native people’s racial experiences accessing healthcare.

Gonzalez is a Bemidji State alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of North Dakota.

University Scholars

University Scholars honors are bestowed by the university president on faculty members who have demonstrated outstanding teaching, service or scholarship over three successive years, as judged by the faculty member’s department and immediate supervisor. Factors for consideration include scholarly publications, recognition for creative or artistic work, development of research programs, or other scholarly activity performed at an exemplary level.

Gonzalez is among Bemidji State’s first group of University Scholars, announced by former BSU President Dr. Richard A. Hanson at the university’s Commencement ceremony in May 2016. He is joined by Dr. Joann Fredrickson, professor of business, and Dr. Marty J. Wolf, professor of computer science. University Scholars present the results of their research as part of the Honors Council Lecture Series.

Spring Honors Council Lecture Series

Jan. 31 – 7 p.m. – Hagg-Sauer 100 – Dr. John Gonzalez, professor of psychology, University Scholar, “American Indian College Student Development.”

Feb. 8 – 7 p.m. – Hagg-Sauer 100 – Dr. Joann Fredrickson, professor of business, University Scholar. “Online Learning and Student Engagement: Assessing the Impact of a Collaborative Writing Project.”

Feb. 27 – 7 p.m. – Hagg-Sauer 107 – Chris Miller, assistant professor of psychology, “What is the Purpose of Self-Esteem?”

March 7 – 7 p.m. – American Indian Resource Center Gathering Room – Dr. Michael Anderson, interim provost and vice president for academic and student affairs, “The United States Constitution: An Ongoing Search for Balance.”

March 23 – 7 p.m. – American Indian Resource Center Gathering Room – Lori Peterson, civil rights attorney, keynote address for Honors Council Lecture Series and BSU gender studies/womens studies program gender conference.

April 4 – 7 p.m. – Hagg-Sauer 107 – Dr. John Ellis, assistant professor of history, “The Holy ‘Knock-em-Down’: Methodism Remodels for the Ohio Valley’s Backwoods, 1790s-1820s.”

April 26 – 7 p.m. – Hagg-Sauer 107 – Dr. Jeanine McDermott, assistant professor of nursing; Dr. Carolyn Townsend, associate professor of nursing; and Dr. Sarah Tarutis, associate professor of nursing, “Building Community: Impacts on Students’ Educational Experiences.”

BSU Honors Council

The Honors Council Lecture Series is hosted by the Bemidji State University Honors Council, the advisory group to BSU’s honors program composed of 12 faculty members representing each of the university’s colleges. Student representatives are also elected to the council by their cohorts for one-year terms.


Bemidji State University, located in northern Minnesota’s lake district, occupies a wooded campus along the shore of Lake Bemidji. A member of the colleges and universities of Minnesota State, Bemidji State offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and 11 graduate degrees encompassing arts, sciences and select professional programs. Bemidji State has an enrollment of approximately 5,000 students and a faculty and staff of more than 550. University signature themes include environmental stewardship, civic engagement and global and multi-cultural understanding.