HLC approves new master’s program at SBC

May 1st, 2014 | By | Category: 25-4: Nation Building, Tribal College News

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has notified Sitting Bull College (SBC, Fort Yates, ND) that its new master’s program in environmental science has been approved and accredited. The notice came following a comprehensive HLC evaluation that granted SBC 10 years of continued accreditation.

Dr. Laurel Vermillion (Hunkpapa Lakota), president of SBC, stressed the importance of the accreditation as it makes SBC the first tribal college in North Dakota to offer a master’s degree program. The new program will teach students the science and management of the environment and environmental problems.

Environmental science is an interdisciplinary field that allows students to gain knowledge of the biological, chemical, physical, social, and economic components in the management of natural resources.

HLC’s accreditation team met with SBC’s board of trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, students, and community members during their visit. The team noted that SBC had matured into a stable, financially secure, and well-managed institution. The team also stated that SBC had responded effectively to identified challenges and concerns from previous evaluations. SBC has made such strides while adhering to the vision and teachings of its namesake, Sitting Bull.

Dr. Koreen Ressler, vice-president of academics at SBC, served as the self-study coordinator for the visit and oversaw the completion of the college’s self-study report addressing HLC’s criteria for accreditation. Ressler indicated that SBC’s success stemmed from a strong commitment to following policies and the implementation of procedures to ensure institutional effectiveness.

Located on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that encompasses 2.4 million acres and straddles North and South Dakota, SBC has sites in Fort Yates, McLaughlin, and Mobridge. Besides its new master’s degree in environmental science, the college offers a variety of programs, including seven that lead to Bachelor of Science degrees.

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