NCA Team Recommends Accreditation for TOCC

Feb 15th, 2005 | By | Category: 16-3: Indigenizing Education, Tribal College News

The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association Evaluation Team completed its 3-day visit to Tohono O’odham Community College (TOCC) in Sells, AZ, last September. Following the visit, the evaluation team said it will recommend to the Higher Learning Commission that the college be granted initial accreditation. This means that the college has met the 24 General Institutional Requirements and the criteria required for accreditation.

TOCC President Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee) said, “We celebrate a significant milestone in our journey to become a premier community college serving the higher education and training needs of the Tohono O’odham Nation. We have moved from candidacy to accreditation status in the minimum amount of time possible (2 years). The college’s board of trustees, faculty, staff, and students are to be commended for their diligent efforts.”

The evaluation team cited the Tohono O’odham Nation’s commitment and monetary support of its tribal college as well as the integration of Himdag into the college’s programs. Himdag is the O’odham way of life and includes their culture, history, values, and language.

Tohono O’odham Nation Chairwoman Vivian Juan-Saunders said, “On behalf of the Tohono O’odham Nation we congratulate the TOCC. The college serves a key role by providing top-notch educational services critical to the future of our people.”

The Tohono O’odham Nation chartered and established the college in 1998. Using Indian gaming dollars, the nation appropriated $21 million for the start-up and operational funding for the college, $6 million of which will be used for the first phase of constructing the permanent campus.

Accreditation represents public certification of an institution’s commitment to quality institutional and program improvement. It assures that all of the college’s degree programs and coursework will transfer to other colleges and universities. Since the college began offering classes in 2000, the courses have been accredited through an intergovernmental agreement with Pima Community College.

In December, the college received more good news. The fiscal year 2005 Omnibus Appropriation bill included a provision adding Tohono O’odham Community College to the list of 1994 land grant institutions. This means that TOCC is now one of the 33 tribal colleges eligible for many USDA programs.

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