From serving as tribal liaison to mentoring students at the Native American Student Center, Arthur Taylor was known for always welcoming people with a smile. “He was a person that led with welcome, with friendliness, with a huge smile on his face,” said Carmen Suarez, director of human rights, access and inclusion at the University of Idaho, and a close colleague of Taylor. “His smile and laughter, it filled a room, not because he was loud, but because he saw life always from the positive.”
Taylor, the indigenous affairs officer at UI, died from a heart attack Nov. 28 while driving on U.S. Highway 95, near Lapwai. No other vehicles were involved in the accident
Sydel Samuels, a colleague of Taylor’s at the Native American Student Center, said Taylor is a huge loss to the center and UI. She said Taylor’s primary goal was student success.
“We’ve lost a huge advocate for students and UI,” Samuels said.
Bethany Guzman, a first year student at UI, said Taylor always wanted students to succeed, and was a mentor to many in the center and the classroom.
“Any situation, he’d always just ask if there (was) anything he can do to help us, and for me that’s what was really great about Art,” Guzman said.
Taylor was not just a mentor to Native American students but to students across campus, said Yolanda Taylor Pagaduan, a second cousin to Taylor and a UI alumna. She said Taylor was involved throughout UI diversity programs by going to events and offering advice to students.
Taylor recently earned his doctorate degree in education from UI this past May, and wanted to continue his love of education through his students and community.
“He was all about continuing his education, while pushing all of the other students to succeed,” Pagaduan said.
Suarez said Taylor saw education as a pathway to personal and professional development, and advocated lifelong learning.
As tribal liaison, Taylor was responsible for communicating with all of the tribes UI works with and representing their view to the provost’s office.
In the position, Taylor placed a large emphasis on recruiting and retaining Native American students, as well as representing UI at numerous tribal meetings and events, Suarez said.
“He traveled a considerable amount to various schools, tribal schools representing UI,” Suarez said. “Bringing back with him the ways in which UI could have collaborative, mutually beneficial, mutually successful relationships.”
Suarez said Taylor was the driving force behind expanding the American Indian studies minor at UI.
Samuels said Taylor was key in ensuring UI was incorporating the tribes in the future goals and visions of the university.
Taylor also served on the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee for six years, and was active in fish restoration, youth mentoring and community education, Samuels said.
Suarez said Taylor was so involved because he cared deeply for UI, his family and his tribe.
“He had this infinite capacity to care about others, and an infinite capacity to partner with others for any kind of social justice,” Suarez said.
Ryan Tarinelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org