New Mexico, Tribal Colleges Sign Historic Agreement

May 15th, 2007 | By | Category: 18-4: Health and Healing, Tribal College News

ACCESS AGREEMENT. Gathered to sign the agreement were Dr. Lawrence Isaac of Navajo Technical College; New Mexico Higher Education Department Secretary Dr. Beverlee McClure; Diné College President Ferlin Clark; N.M. Sen. Ray Begaye; Diné College Regent Clinton Jim; N.M. Sen. John Pinto; N.M. Rep. Roger Madalena; SIPI President Dr. Jeff Hamley; N.M. Sen. Lynda Lovejoy; and IAIA Interim President Richard Tobin. Photo by Curtis R. Benally.

The New Mexico Higher Education Department and the four tribal colleges in the state have signed a historic agreement to increase access and higher educational attainment for the state’s American Indian students.

The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed by New Mexico Higher Education Secretary Dr. Beverlee J. McClure and tribal college representatives Ferlin Clark, president of Diné College; Dr. Rich Tobin, interim president of the Institute of American Indian Arts; Elmer Guy, president of Navajo Technical College; and Dr. Jeff Hamley, president of Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute.

Announced in February, the MOA is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. “I established the Educational Equity and Access Division because we know that improving tribal students’ graduation rates will dramatically improve the quality of life in those students’ communities,” McClure said.

The memorandum will help develop strategies to improve the accessibility, retention, and education opportunities in New Mexico postsecondary institutions and tribal colleges. “The vast majority of our 2-year graduates go on to New Mexico 4-year institutions, and this MOA will help to facilitate this transfer of students said Hamley of Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute..”

“The Path of Many Journeys” (a 2007 USA Funds-sponsored report focusing on higher education access for American Indian students) shows that an educated American Indian citizenry will contribute to a state’s economic development and ameliorate the challenges faced by tribal communities. The report provides a rationale for states getting more involved in American Indian student success.

“Tribal colleges are the most effective in transitioning Native students into postsecondary education and in sending them on to four-year institutions,” said Dr. Maggie George (Diné), director of the department’s Educational Equity and Access Division. “Transfer students from tribal colleges into New Mexico’s public colleges and universities achieve a 75% graduation rate.”

George is responsible for an annual study of recruitment and retention practices for American Indian and Hispanic students at New Mexico’s public postsecondary institutions. The study is designed to improve recruitment, participation, and graduation rates of minority students by identifying practices that lead to success.

For information on the New Mexico Higher Education Department, call (505) 476-6500 or visit To view the USA Funds report visit

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