Zoe Higheagle Strong to lead WSU Native American programs

Closeup of Zoe Higheagle Strong.
Higheagle Strong

Zoe Higheagle Strong was selected to assume the role of executive director of Tribal Relations and special assistant to the provost, effective Jan. 10, 2019.

Higheagle Strong also will serve as director of the Plateau Center for Native American Research and Collaborations, beginning immediately.

Higheagle Strong is an assistant professor of educational psychology in the College of Education and has served as an affiliate for the Plateau Center since 2017. Her research focuses on social-emotional, cognitive and socioeconomic factors that influence adolescents’ identity, safety and learning in academic environments. She has a particular interest in Native American education and Indigenous research.

Strong earned her Ph.D. from the University of Washington, and previously developed youth programming/curriculum and established school and community partners in low socioeconomic and tribal communities, among other duties, as executive director for the Washington Chapter of Hope worldwide.

“I am honored to accept this important position at WSU that recognizes the sovereignty of Native American tribes and is focused on strengthening the education, scholarship and advancement of Native American students,” Higheagle Strong said. “The Plateau Center, under the leadership of Barbara Aston and key supporting staff members Faith Price and Ken Lockensgard, has built a strong foundation of Native American student programming. My commitment is to continue this growth and to collaborate closely with tribal communities and university faculty, administration and staff to increase opportunities for Native American students to be active in research and scholarship that reflects the needs, culture and protocols of tribal communities.”

Higheagle Strong will succeed Aston, who will retire in January after more than 30 years at WSU. The Office of the Provost thanked Aston for her dedicated service to WSU and the Office of the Tribal Liaison.

Higheagle Strong is a member of the Nez Perce (Nimiipuu) tribe and her Indian name is Hookoo. She is eager to embrace her new role and strengthen the WSU community, which includes close to 600 students of Native American descent.

“This fall and winter, I plan to visit the 12 tribes that WSU has a MOU agreement with in order to strengthen the relationship and develop a collaborative vision for the Plateau Center as we move forward,” Higheagle Strong said.

The Office of the Tribal Liaison is a key component to WSU’s land grant mission, providing support for the Native American Advisory Board to the President and promoting the relationship between tribes and WSU. The advisory board is the result of a Memorandum of Understanding between WSU and the 12 tribes stating the wish to, “create a structure to strengthen the relationships between them, and to improve the quality of educational services and opportunities provided,” and to “increase access to, and Native American achievements at, WSU.”



  • Todd Mordhorst, communications coordinator, Office of the Provost, 509-335-8047, mordhorst@wsu.edu

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