working for years as a psychology professor, Marigold Linton said
she wanted to move into a field where she could reach more people.
So she became interested in helping to
pave the way for American Indians and other minorities to enter
careers in the sciences.
She was recognized for her efforts last
week with a presidential award for mentoring.
Linton, who works today as the director
of American Indian outreach at Kansas University, said she was both
embarrassed and honored to receive the National Science Foundations
Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering
And, yes, that meant she got to meet President
She was pleased to be placed in the front
row of the picture of the award winners and was tickled to have
the president put his arm around her for the group photo (everyone
took individual photos with the president, too).
Shes waiting for the photos to arrive.
Linton quizzed the president on the art
in the Oval Office he didnt know the artist of a painting
of George Washington hanging in his office, she recalled. And she
drew a laugh from the president and fellow awardees when she made
a comment after a remark about how many find the office to be smaller
than they anticipated.
The Oval Office may be small,
she told Obama, But you, sir, are larger than life.
The recognition came for an educator and
researcher who started out from humble beginnings, and has gone
on to make a difference in the lives of many minority students today.
James Orr, a KU molecular biology professor
and director of KUs Office for Diversity in Science Training,
praised Lintons work at KU, which began in 1998, and said
that she has helped invigorate a program that serves about 60 students
each year. Her work gives KU and Haskell Indian Nations University
students access to faculty members labs that they likely wouldnt
She has a personal understanding
of the challenges and the barriers that students from the American
Indian culture face when they try to move forward in their education,
A member of the Cahuilla-Cupeño
tribe, Linton grew up on the Morongo Reservation in California,
and she said she knows that the quality of education on many reservations
makes it difficult for many Native Americans to move up.
Linton said she was the first woman to
become a full professor at the University of Utah when she attained
that position in 1973 and became known for her research on long-term
Since then, she has gone on to form programs,
not just at KU, but also some affiliated with the Society for the
Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, an organization
of which Linton is a past president.
One such program provides leadership training
for minority students to prepare them to become deans, provosts
and university presidents.
There are few American Indians in those
kinds of positions today, she said. One KU student and two from
Haskell have participated in that program, she said.
I could have done all of those things
if I had any kind of background at all. Any kind of background at
all, she said. But I didnt.