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Remembering Y2K
28 January 2011

BISMARCK (UTN) - For the opening of the Spring 2011 semester, I offer a warm welcome to the new and returning students and staff at United Tribes Technical College.

      OMG is it January 2011?!!!

Dr. Phil Baird

      The significance of that date hit me like a two-year-old piece of fry bread. We weren’t just saying goodbye to another year; a whole decade was gone.

      Do you remember where you were when Y2K rolled around?

      At the stroke of midnight, I was watching my “hunka” parents, Wayne and Patty Evans, exchange vows in South Dakota’s He Sapa. Later that first day of 2000, I stopped at Prairie Knights and took in the wedding celebration of Kurt and Melanie Luger.

      UTTC was involved in its own achievements then. A major land acquisition of 132 acres ushered in the dream of expansion on the new campus.

      A year later, the college was completing its comprehensive self-study and preparing for another successful accreditation evaluation. The new academic program initiative was “web-based education.” By 2003, UTTC became the first tribal college to offer accredited online degree programs. The seeds were also planted for the introduction of baccalaureate programs.

      Over the past 10 years we have constructed many new campus facilities: Jack Barden Student Life and Technology Center; Itan’can Hall co-ed dorm; Lewis Goodhouse Wellness Center; August Little Soldier apartment complex; Human Resources office building; Spirit of the Plains Art gallery, and multi-purpose room added to the gym.

      Toward the latter part of the decade, we marked important commemorations, like President David M. Gipp’s 30th anniversary in 2007, and the college’s 40th anniversary in 2009, ranking UTTC as an elder among the nation’s tribally-controlled postsecondary institutions of higher education. And interest grew in the WWII history of Fort Lincoln, the college site.

      We said goodbye to friends, colleagues and leaders with the passing of people like Austin Angel, Art Link, August Little Soldier, Ann McLaughlin Kuyper and Margaret Teachout. Time and tide took many of our own family members – husbands, moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas.

      The accomplishments, challenges and events of the Y2K decade were both impressive and bittersweet. It’s a sure bet now in 2011 that we’ve entered another decade of progress.

      What’s on the immediate horizon?

      By the end of January, three academic departments – Computer Information Technology, Criminal Justice, and Nursing – will complete office relocations into the new Science and Technology building, the first facility on the south campus.

      The General Education faculty will finalize their space consolidation in the Education Building. At the same time, prep coursework will undergo closer assessment regarding student learning and academic promotion. A Native American studies minor will continue development.

      The Tribal Environmental Science program will be situated closer to Tribal land grant programs and lab resources in the Skill Center, making for better collaboration and resource sharing. A new TES faculty member will shape the new pre-engineering program with a focus on water resources.

      The college’s Teacher Education program will have completed a long-awaited review by the N.D. Education Standards and Practices Board. A successful evaluation will certify the baccalaureate program as “the real deal.” Next in line will be the curricula of Business Administration and Criminal Justice being assessed as upper division programs.

      The Criminal Justice program will also be expanded to coordinate specialized law enforcement training for Tribal and BIA officers. A new crime scene and weapons simulator in the Science and Technology building will bring state-of-the-art technology to Bismarck to be shared by students and local law enforcement personnel alike.

      Speaking of technology, the Nursing faculty will complete training this Spring on a new nursing clinical simulator, acquired as part of a cost-share partnership with other nursing programs in the state. This technology will become important as the program prepares for its five-year evaluation next Fall.

      Did I mention the college is planning for a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program, and maybe a welding training component?

      If there’s one event that signals the kind of progress we can expect from the new decade, it is the on-site accreditation evaluation this spring of the NCA-Higher Learning Commission. It was ten years ago when the last comprehensive visit occurred. An abundance of talent and energy on campus contributed to the self-study. It is clear that UTTC will be rewarded when the NCA consultant-evaluators arrive April 18-20.

      So, to the students and staff, welcome again. You’ve not only arrived on campus for Spring semester, you’ve entered another decade of progress at United Tribes.


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