TCU-grown Consultants Expand Indian Voice in Higher Education

May 15th, 2007 | By | Category: 18-4: Health and Healing
By Gerald E. Gipp, Ph.D.

GERALD E GIPPThis is the time of the year when many students are rewarded at graduation ceremonies for their commitment to education and hard work. We join their families, friends, instructors, and other mentors in offering hearty congratulations. If any of you have the opportunity, attend a tribal college graduation and witness for yourself the promising number of graduates entering the work force or moving on to other colleges or universities.

The significant impact of nearly 40 years of education by tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) is a story that keeps unfolding. One of those stories belongs to Sherwin Bitsui (Navajo), Associate of Fine Arts graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts’s Creative Writing program.

He was awarded the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation’s Writers’ Award in New York in October 2006. The award, which includes a $40,000 prize, has been given annually since 1985 to emerging writers of exceptional talent and promise. Bitsui’s art graced the cover of Tribal College Journal, Vol. 10, No. 4, back in 1999. We congratulate him on his exceptional first book, Shapeshift, and his outstanding career as a writer.

At a recent American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) meeting for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Indigenous Evaluation Framework project, experts shared their wisdom to refine an evaluation model. I was pleasantly surprised to learn many of these experts had experience with TCUs as graduates, faculty members, administrators, or board members.

Clearly the TCUs are growing their own consultants with diverse backgrounds and expertise in higher education. For the first time in the history of formal education, the TCUs are exercising an Indian voice in higher education.

AIHEC and other organizations constantly pursue resources to ensure the work of the tribal colleges continues. Those who visit AIHEC online at will notice we now display the “Best in America Seal of Excellence” from the Independent Charities of America.

This seal is awarded to the organizations that have, upon rigorous independent review, been able to certify, document, and demonstrate on an annual basis that they meet the highest standards of public accountability, program effectiveness, and cost effectiveness. Of the 1 million charities operating in the United States today, it is estimated that fewer than 5% meet these standards. To donate, please call (703) 838-0400.

Let us know about any outstanding tribal college graduate’s achievements by writing a letter to the editor. We know there are many out in Indian Country doing great things in their communities.



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