Two New Colleges Join Consortium

Nov 15th, 1993 | By | Category: 5-3: Medicine, Tribal College News
By Paul Boyer

The tribal college family grew again as two new institutions joined the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) in November.

The College of the Menominee Nation and Leech Lake Tribal College were both accepted as full members of the consortium during its fall meeting in Mobile, Alabama. AIHEC now represents 31 colleges in twelve states and two Canadian provinces.

The College of the Menominee Nation, the nation’s youngest, began offering classes just over one year ago with an ini­tial enrollment of 46 stu­dents, according to President Verna Fowler. Enrollment climbed steadily to 150 this past fall semester and continues to grow, she reports.

The college, located in Keshena, Wisconsin, offers a two-year core curriculum for students planning to continue at four-year insti­tutions. It also offers certifi­cate or associate degrees in early childhood education, forestry and casino manage­ment. In addition, the col­lege sponsors two institutes, one in hospitality and gam­ing and another in forestry.

Forestry is a special con­cern for the college and the tribe. The Menominee Nation is recognized inter­nationally for its careful use of forest reserves, becoming a model for environmentally responsi­ble management.

Visitors from other tribes and nations, includ­ing representatives from Russia and Cambodia, regularly visit the reservation to learn about its practice of sustained yield forestry. The forestry institute hosts visitors and provides work­shops in environmentally responsible management, says Fowler.

The college has 30 acres of land set aside for a cam­pus and is working with an architectural firm on building plans. Until a per­manent home is construct­ed classes are being held in the public high school, the Head Start building and a conference room in the Forestry Center, among other sites.

Fowler says she is thrilled to be a part of the tribal college consortium. “The people are so helpful. I see that they will offer help and support as we build a strong foundation.”

Leech Lake Tribal College in Cass Lake, Minnesota was chartered in 1990 and now enrolls 268 students, according to John Morrow, dean of students and community services.

While still small, the college has already built an ambitious academic pro­gram. Diplomas and asso­ciate of applied science degrees are offered in sev­eral business-related fields, including secretarial sci­ence, bookkeeping and microcomputers.

Associate of arts degrees are available in general studies. Students can also choose to concentrate in Anishinabe language and culture.

Morrow says the college is espe­cially committed to preservation of language and arts. He believes there is a renewed interest in tribal culture and the college has responded with courses that teach traditional skills.

Equally important, the college, like most tribal colleges, seeks to reflect tribal values in its educational philosophy. “We take a holistic approach to education,” Morrow says. “We try to inject culture into all of our classes.”

The college is planning to add additional two-year degrees and is preparing to offer a four-year program.

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