UTTC now offers 3 accredited 4-year degrees

Feb 8th, 2012 | By | Category: 23-3: Technology and Culture, Tribal College News

UTTC SITE VISIT. Members of the Higher Learning Commission review team were thanked at the close of their April 20, 2011 site visit to United Tribes Technical College. From left, Dr. Robert G. Martin of the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, NM; team leader Dr. Michael W. Westerfield of William Woods University, Fulton, MO; Dr. Kristin L. Mallory of Bridgemont Community and Technical College, Montgomery, WV; Dr. Cynthia E. Spiers of James A. Rhodes State College, Lima, OH; and Dr. Michael R. White of Dunwoody College of Technology, Minneapolis, MN. At right, United Tribes counselor Julie Cain. United Tribes photo by Dennis J. Neumann

United Tribes Technical College (UTTC, Bismarck, ND) is now a four-year college.

The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools has granted UTTC permission to offer baccalaureate education in three areas: Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, and Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.

These are the first advanced-degree programs offered entirely through UTTC in its 42-year history. The tribal college has begun enrolling students, providing financial aid, and offering coursework in these areas.

“This is a major accomplishment for us,” says UTTC President David M. Gipp.

The commission also renewed UTTC’s authority to offer associate’s degrees and expanded the college’s approval to provide all degrees in an online delivery format.

“We started out as a training institute and have graduated up the line,” says Gipp. “This step is further proof of our dedication to meet the demands of the job market and open the door for our students to gain the skills and education they need to create a better world for themselves and their families. We’re not just standing in one place. We’re building a place that’s better. A place of opportunity.”

The commission issued its formal approval in July 2011 following a comprehensive site visit to the campus in April by representatives of the commission. A five-member team reviewed and evaluated all aspects of the college’s capacity and capability.

To prepare, UTTC had completed a five-year planning and development process conducted by a committee of the faculty and staff. Russell Swagger, UTTC vice president of student and campus services and head of the self-study committee, says, “Everyone— from the board of directors, to staff, faculty, and students—contributed to the process. And the proof of their dedication and spirit is in the results.”

Under Swagger’s leadership, the UTTC self-study followed the college’s long-term strategic plan. The plan reflects the values and desires of the college’s board of directors for how UTTC needs to grow to meet the training and educational needs of the five governing tribes: Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, Spirit Lake Tribe, Standing Rock Tribe, Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara Nation, and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.

Members of the visiting team told Swagger that they were impressed with the amount of interest expressed by students, staff, and faculty. The team said they had participated in lots of visits that have open forums where only one or two people typically show up. But at UTTC, over 30 people attended the forum. They felt that was evidence of a high degree of involvement from all areas of the campus and a high degree of commitment, says Swagger.

UTTC has been a North Central Association-accredited institution since 1982. The new level of accreditation offers students opportunities to complete a bachelor’s degree in one of the three newly approved bachelor’s programs, associate’s degrees in 17 programs, and one certificate program. UTTC currently has six online associate degree and certificate programs and is in the process of developing several more.

UTTC had previously graduated students in bachelor degree programs through a cooperative program with Sinte Gleska University (SGU) in Mission, SD. The unduplicated enrollment for the 2011–12 academic year is expected to exceed 1,200 students. As part of its new authorization, UTTC is required to submit a monitoring

report by the end of 2013. Unless there are changes that affect the college’s accreditation relationship, the next accreditation visit will occur during the 2020–2021 academic year.

“Approval of the bachelor’s degrees is clearly a singular and historic achievement,” says Swagger. “I see it as a step toward master’s and Ph.D. programs and new levels of educational offerings for future generations of learners and leaders. It underscores the need for tribal colleges and the role they serve for tribal communities and the larger society.”

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