Leech Lake Develops Institution

Feb 15th, 2001 | By | Category: 12-3: How to Build a Dream, Tribal College News

Leech Lake Tribal College in Minnesota received its first Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education last October. The tribal college will use the five-year, $1.9 million grant to develop the information technology infrastructure of the college. This project will assist Leech Lake Tribal College in improving record keeping in student services and purchasing financial accounting software. At several reservation sites, students and other community members soon will be able to communicate with faculty and staff of the college regarding coursework, registration, and financial aid more regularly and more efficiently than in the past. The Title III grant will also help develop the virtual library and distance education services, which were begun with assistance from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service.

Prior to these grants, the college had no Internet connectivity, and faculty had no regular access to computers. Today the college boasts a computer lab for students, a writing laboratory with computer workstations, computers in every faculty office, and T-1 Internet access.

The college took another important step to develop a stronger institution last year. The Leech Lake Tribal Council adopted a new charter for the college, which establishes an independently elected seven-member board of Leech Lake Band members to govern the college. The tribal council has served as the college’s board of trustees since the band established the college in 1990. John Morrow, president of Leech Lake Tribal College since the fall of 1999, said that with the new charter and new governing board, the tribal council began “a new era of tribal self-determination.”

The North Central Association, Commission on Higher Education, considers the independence of a college’s governing board as a central issue in accreditation decisions. Consequently, the new charter and board will help the college become fully accredited. At present, Leech Lake Tribal College’s accreditation is for adult and vocational programs through the NCA, Commission on Schools. The college’s mission is to “provide all persons a quality education grounded in the spirituality, history, and culture of the Anishinaabeg.”

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