Three Colleges Gain Expanded AccreditationAug 15th, 1993 | By tcj | Category: 5-2: Leadership, Tribal College News
Fort Belknap College in Fort Belknap, Montana became the twenty-fourth tribal college to gain full accreditation from one of the regional accrediting agencies.
In addition, United Tribes Technical College was granted the authority to add new associate degree programs and Haskell Indian Nations University—formerly Haskell Indian Junior College—received approval for its first four-year degree program.
Accreditation is an important step for any college. It is an acknowledgement that the institution is meeting its goals. It also ensures that credit earned by students will be accepted by other colleges and universities if they transfer.
For Fort Belknap College, full accreditation came after six years of work and just nine years after it was officially chartered as a tribal college.
The college began as a regional center of the College of Great Falls. From 1982 to 1984 it was a branch campus of Dull Knife Memorial College in Lame Deer, Montana. For the next three years it became a branch campus of Salish Kootenai College. By 1987 it had gained candidacy status with Northwest.
In that time the college has grown tremendously. Enrollment has climbed from 70 students in 1984 to 188 this past spring semester. There are now 21 full and part-time faculty. The college operates out of eight buildings.
For United Tribes, granting authority for its associate degree was approved August 4 by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Previously, the college had to get approval from the accrediting agency for each new degree program offered, which often required site visits and years of planning, according to Jack Barden of United Tribes.
Since approval was granted, three new associate programs have been added: art and art marketing, automotive technology and early childhood education.
The inter-tribal college, which has been accredited since the early 1980’s, was visited by a special North Central team in March to assure that its curricula and general education program met standards required of degree-level work.
The college received commendations for developing an innovative interdisciplinary general education program. For example, a course in introductory psychology is tied together with a class in freshman composition so that students will study the basics of psychology but also apply this knowledge to writing skills. The process involves extensive use of reading materials and discussion sessions, followed by writing assignments.
For Haskell, approval to offer a four-year program in elementary teacher education reflects the institution’s evolving mission. Founded in 1884, the college originally educated up to the eighth grade and stressed vocational and homemaking skills for boys and girls. During the first half of this century, secondary and post-secondary programs were added.
However, the college now hopes to take the next step by offering a variety of bachelor’s degrees and, in time, add graduate programs. According to Hannes Combest, education assistant to the president, the college has yet to decide which additional four year and graduate programs it will add. She says natural resource management and tribal management are likely areas, however.
As part of the changing mission of the college, Haskell also changed its name to Haskell Indian
Nations University this past spring.
Accreditation for the program was granted in August. Haskell had been accredited as a junior college since 1970.