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Message from the Self-Study Chair
By Russell Swagger, Vice President Student & Campus Services
United Tribes Self-Study Chair
27 February 2009

BISMARCK (UTN) - Dr. David M. Gipp, our President and Dr. Phil Baird, our Chief Academic Officer, announced our official move into our upcoming reaccreditation process over the course of the previous academic year through several different forums. Dr. Gipp organized the official self-study steering committee and provided UTTC’s historical accreditation journey, and explained his expectations of us. Our Board of Directors revised our Mission, Vision, and Values statement at its recent summer retreat in Minneapolis and reviewed and endorsed our reaccreditation activities. Dr. Baird recently provided us with information about the reaccreditation process in previous issues of our newsletter. I thank him for providing us with general and historical information about the reaccreditation process and setting the stage so eloquently for me because it makes my role as the Self-Study Chair much easier.

      I want to thank Dr. Gipp and the Administrative Council for placing their faith in me to lead UTTC through this extremely important process. I am humbled and honored to be serving in this position. I also want to acknowledge the Self-Study Steering Committee members for their commitment, patience, understanding, and involvement in this process. Finally, it is very important to recognize a few key individuals that have worked quite hard to help UTTC realize its reaccreditation. These individuals include Kathy Johnson, Leah Hamann, Dorvin Froseth, Marsha Azure, Stacie Iken, and Suzan O’Connell. I also want to acknowledge UTTC’s previous self-study committee members and leadership for blazing the trail and establishing a good foundation for our future self-studies.

      When asked to serve in this role, I obviously had many questions. I knew that if I surrounded myself with good people that we would accomplish UTTC’s vision. We have accomplished quite a few major tasks since we began our work and I will share some of those key accomplishments with you and discuss plans for the future.

      Our first task was to evaluate the self-study process at UTTC and we recognized a few opportunities for making improvements. As a result, we made a recommendation to establish a permanent self-study process and this change required us to make other significant changes in how we communicate and make decisions. We did this because we noticed that there is not a formal, seamless, ongoing, and uniform process for assessment at UTTC. Rather, some people and departments are quite sophisticated in their level of assessment and others are at more novice levels. Additionally, our major assessment activity seemed to happen at one point in time and that is during the reaccreditation process. Therefore, we adopted a permanent self-study mindset and our work followed along these lines.

      Specifically, we have held two retreats to familiarize ourselves with NCA and the self study process, developed a website devoted to NCA information and updates, attended the annual NCA conference and an assessment of student learning conference, created a permanent self-study chairperson position, published a self-study manual that highlights the reaccreditation process and recommendations for conducting that, and established a new NCA resource room. Our most active work to date is to revise the committee structure at UTTC in order to create greater effectiveness and efficiencies. We plan to have this recommended committee restructuring to all of you for a review and comment period and then to the Administrative Council and President Gipp within the very near future. Simultaneously, we have created two tracks to help us get work done. We call these tracks the writing track and the communications track. These groups are responsible for keeping the reaccreditation process moving, to inform people of our progress, and to ensure that there is stability in the writing process.

      We met with our NCA liaison, Dr. Robert Appleson, during the annual conference. We had the opportunity to provide him with our plans as well as ask questions relative to our reaccreditation. We submitted three preferred dates to NCA and were notified recently that our evaluation visit will take place April 18-20, 2011. We have also advised them that we will be asking for three actions including: (1) General authority to offer campus based certificate and associate of applied science degrees; (2) General authority to offer online based certificates and associate of applied science degrees; and (3) Authority to offer a baccalaureate degree in teacher education and business administration.

      Remember, this is very important to our future. This is your opportunity to learn more about UTTC and your role in our organization. It is also another opportunity for you to have a voice in the decision making process. We need you to participate and express your viewpoints because it helps us continually improve our organization. Thank you to each of you for everything that you do and for being committed to Native American education.

      Please look for an update of this message in future newsletters and look for other ways that we will communicate with you throughout the process such as our website, public forums, focus groups, etc.

Sincerely,
Russell Swagger, Vice President Student & Campus Services
United Tribes Self-Study Chair

 

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