The University of Saskatchewan has appointed its first chair of Aboriginal education.

Jeff Baker, 39, is a Métis scholar doing a doctoral degree with a focus on Indigenous science education.

He says a big part of his new role will be working with educators to increase Aboriginal graduation rates.

“I think one of the big goals everyone is working towards is improved completion rates and there is a number of different ways that can be done,” he says. “I think that’s the biggest real goal that’s facing us and I think there’s a lot of good work that’s actually happening in different communities and different cities across the province and across the nation and so part of my work is going to be learning from some of those experiences.”

Baker adds he will be working closely with educators to incorporate Aboriginal cultural components into the mainstream curriculum and drawing upon his experiences as a teaching intern at high school in New Zealand where he worked with the Maori.

He will be teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses with a focus on kindergarten to Grade 12 education for students in the Indian Teacher Education Program.

Baker will also work with the Aboriginal Education Research Centre to develop community partnerships and drive new research that will create the conditions for academic success.

In addition to his other education, Baker holds a bachelor of education from the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program.