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Plans announced for Rapid City location
United Tribes to Offer Tribal Higher Education Services

1 February 2013

Dr. Phil Baird. DENNIS J. NEUMANN<>United Tribes News

RAPID CITY (UTN) – United Tribes Technical College plans to begin offering higher education services to students in Rapid City, South Dakota in 2013. The Bismarck-based tribal college plans to open a new technical learning center in the city’s downtown and begin providing programs and services that will broaden educational opportunities for Native students in the area.

Dr. Phil Baird, UTTC’s vice president of Academic, Career and Technical Education, made the announcement December 20 in Rapid City during the Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI) sports and academic competition.

“Sometime in the new year, we will open a technology learning center,” said Baird, delivering the welcome news to a group of friends and well-wishers at the LNI. “Initially it will be a hub for our online courses and online degree programs. Eventually the vision is to establish another tribal higher education presence here that will address needs that other institutions are not.”

From its campus in Bismarck, United Tribes serves upwards of 1,200 students annually. More than 70 tribes are represented in student body. The college is open to students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Currently 15 percent are non-Native.

UTTC offers three Bachelor of Science degree programs, 14 Associate of Applied Science programs and 13 certificates. Six of the associate programs are offered online. UTTC is the only tribal college with accredited online degree programs.

In 2011, the college’s long-standing accreditation was renewed for 10 years by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. More recently the college has launched a series of workforce training programs that provide partnerships and pathways for employment throughout the northern plains region.

Baird emphasized that United Tribes does not intend to compete with existing educational programs in Rapid City but to broaden opportunities. Oglala Lakota College, based in Kyle, SD on the Pine Ridge Reservation, offers classes at a center in Rapid City. Western Dakota Technical Institute (WDTI) is also located in the city.

“Native students are really big on technology,” he said. “I call them digital natives who are Native. We do a lot of innovative things with technology resources in education.”

One example is a very realistic, high-tech, weapons crime-scene simulator used in the college’s Criminal Justice program and with professional law enforcement training offered through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Baird said UTTC places a great deal of emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math programs. The college has MOUs with South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and WDTI.

“We did a study that said there is enough room for another tribal higher education institution to be here,” said Baird.

The independent report, completed in 2012, concluded there is sufficient student potential in the Rapid City area to sustain additional higher education offerings in the market. Eventually the learning center could be a stepping stone toward fulfilling the long-time vision of tribal leaders to develop a major, Native educational institution in the Black Hills.

“We’re working on a vision for the future of having the Seven Council Fires (the Lakota Oceti Sakowin) coming together here in the Black Hills, where our history and relatives are,” said Baird. “We are welcoming all partners, anyone who wants to be involved on this new journey.”

Developer Hani Shafai. DENNIS J. NEUMANN<>United Tribes News

One partner is Rapid City developer Hani Shafai, president of Dream Design International. Shafai will make available space as needed for the new learning center at the former campus of National American University, 321 Kansas City Street. Shafai says he supports the mission of providing “quality higher education options for Native American students.”

Laying the educational groundwork at the center is Laurette Pourier (Oglala Sioux Tribe), Rapid City, formerly with Oglala Lakota College, Rural America Initiatives, Cangleska, and the Society for the Advancement of Native Interests Today.

Laurette Pourier. DENNIS J. NEUMANN<>United Tribes News

“I’m excited for new the opportunities this brings to Native families in Rapid City,” said Pourier. “We’re beginning now to set up online opportunities for the summer session that’s just around the corner.”

UTTC’s summer session begins May 8. The Rapid City center will be operational to allow students to begin taking online courses then. A broader range of offerings are expected to be ready for fall semester 2013.

“Online learning has great advantages for those who want to increase their employability and can plan their own hours and work independently,” said Pourier.

UTTC’s online offerings include Medical Transcription, Nutrition and Food Service, Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education, Business Management and Criminal Justice.

The college also intends to offer a variety of dual-enrollment classes to help prepare high school graduates for higher education, no matter where they plan to attend college.

Pourier says she is available any time to help those interested. She may be contacted at 605-390-6927 or lpourier@uttc.edu.

More info visit the college website: www.uttc.edu.


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