Retiring President Helped Build ‘Jewel’

May 15th, 2002 | By | Category: 13-4: The Many Faces of Leadership, Tribal College News

From tribal leaders to tribal college presidents, from Bureau of Indian Affairs directors to corporate partners of Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, hundreds gathered on the Albuquerque campus Dec. 7, 2001, to honor retiring President Dr. Carolyn Elgin. After 10 years of leadership, Elgin retired in January, leaving the college, as U.S. Rep. Tom Udall said, “the jewel of New Mexico,” with a wide reputation for providing quality education.

Elgin’s announcement came as SIPI, which has become accredited as a National Indian Community College, celebrated its 30th anniversary. She noted:

“SIPI has evolved through the years from offering vocational-technical courses to granting associate of applied science, associate of arts, and associate of science degree programs.” The college has become renowned for providing quality education to American Indians and Alaska Natives under Elgin’s leadership since 1991. During her tenure, the college raised money to construct a $12 million science and technology building, introduced distance learning initiatives, and developed a major early childhood development training program.

Elgin (Choctaw) received the American Indian Science and Engineering Society’s prestigious Eli Parker award for outstanding service to the Indian community in science and engineering in 2001.

The SIPI faculty and staff gave Elgin a special presentation in honor of her efforts to bring the school into the 21st Century, saying, “Not by might, not by power, but by spirit — that is how SIPI has been able to accomplish so much under the leadership of Dr. Elgin over the last several years.”

New Mexico’s two U.S. senators noted Elgin’s work. Sen. Jeff Bingaman remarked on Elgin’s enthusiasm and ability to work “tirelessly to make SIPI one of the best Native American colleges in the nation. I’m proud of her accomplishments and will miss the working relationship we established as she fought to make sure her students could access the best resources and education needed to achieve economic success.”

Sen. Pete Domenici said, “Dr. Elgin is an excellent leader. She understands the value of a solid education and has helped thousands of American Indians into the workforce.”

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