Bay Mills College Moves Another Step Towards Full AccreditationAug 15th, 1991 | By tcj | Category: 3-2: The Persistence of Native Peoples, Tribal College News
Bay Mills Community College, one of the nation’s youngest tribal colleges, passed an important milestone this summer when it was granted candidacy status for accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Candidacy status is a significant step in the process of gaining full accreditation by the regional accrediting agencies. To achieve candidacy, a college must complete a detailed self -study and undergo an intense on-campus evaluation by a team of educators.
But Martha McLeod, president of the Michigan college, said the process was rewarding and ultimately strengthened the confidence of the faculty and staff. “The evaluators really spent time accentuating the positive,” she said. “They reminded us how far we’ve come.”
Chartered in 1984, Bay Mills applied to North Central in early 1990 to begin the accreditation process. “You just send in the application and pray,” said McLeod.
The agency agreed that the college was ready and told them to begin a self-study. By October 1990 it was completed and in spring 1991 a four-person evaluating team was on campus, looking at every aspect of the college, from finances and facilities to the curriculum and student attitudes.
By the time they had completed the report, McLeod said “there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.” Almost without exception, the college was praised for its ability to provide opportunity to students and play a meaningful role in the community.
In its written report, the evaluators repeatedly referred to the commitment of the institution’s staff. “A key factor in the college’s ability to accomplish its purposes is its dedicated college personnel who are professional and truly concerned about the welfare of the students,” it said.
In turn, the success and enthusiasm of the students was also noted. “Students support the mission and purpose of the college and testify that the college has been important to them,” it said.
The team did make several recommendations, including that the college divide its academic calendar into semesters, not quarters. It also proposed that additional math and science courses be added to the curriculum.
The switch to semesters was made at the beginning of the autumn term. An upgraded math and science program is also now in place.
Taking advantage of this expanded science curriculum, Bay Mills also now offers a one plus one pre-nursing program. Students take first year nursing-related courses at the tribal college and then transfer to Baybenoc Community College to complete the requirements of an associate degree in nursing.
Without a science lab at the college, however, students must be bussed three times a week to use the facilities of a local high school. “They just put the pickled pigs in the back of the van and head down the road,” McLeod said.
Which, for the ever inventive tribal colleges, is just business as usual.