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Exciting, challenging time is here
United Tribes Reaccreditation Visit
By Dr. Russell Swagger, UTTC VP Student and Campus Services

31 March 2011

      On April 1820, United Tribes Technical College will host a group of much anticipated visitors from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. During their brief stay on campus, the team will gather knowledge and information about us and how the college functions. They will use it to form a recommendation for NCA-HLC officials to consider as they decide UTTC's accreditation affiliation status.

      As a vice president of the college, I am familiar with the high quality of our educational services. As chair of the self-study, I am equally familiar with the effort our staff has undertaken in preparing for the NCA-HCL visit. I know we are a strong candidate for reaccreditation and I am confident in a positive outcome.

Dr. Russell Swagger

      These are exciting and challenging times for us. We are on the verge of attaining new levels of accreditation that will introduce into our learning environment some exciting new possibilities for students ones we could only dream about years ago.

      The current accreditation process involves three elements: We are seeking reaccreditation for our associate of applied science degrees; we are also seeking first-time approval to offer all of our programs completely online; and third, we are seeking first-time approval to offer baccalaureate degrees in Criminal Justice, Business Administration and Elementary Education.

      Long ago, when I was a criminal justice student at UTTC, I remember President Gipp and the late Jack Barden talking about their vision to offer bachelor's degrees. I remember thinking how natural it would be to stay at UTTC and learn more from great instructors and earn a four-year degree. Unfortunately I had to go elsewhere for my bachelor's because we weren't prepared to offer the degree at that time.

      Having the opportunity to earn a bachelor's at UTTC is important to students because it will allow them to remain in the stable and supportive environment they've come to know. Our support programs especially are tailored to the unique needs of Native students. The faculty and staff draw on their training and life experiences to create a caring environment. Students often tell us how the support of faculty or staff members has made the difference in their success.

      We are also reaching out to those who cannot leave home to come to our campus for an education. In 2001, we began growing our online education department. In 2003, we received accreditation to offer full programs online. We were the first tribal college to receive that status, and we remain the only one to be accredited to offer full degree programs online. Once UTTC receives its new accreditation status, our outreach will be even greater. We will have the capacity to offer quality educational services that are informed by cultural insights for many more Native Americans who remain in their communities, with their families and jobs.

      The prospect of these changes is exciting. And it is challenging, because we must be prepared and capable of offering the services. The steps we are taking will strengthen our long-demonstrated capacity to prepare a trained, skilled and knowledgeable workforce.

      I believe we are ready to demonstrate this new level of ability and capacity to meet student and tribal needs and accreditation requirements. We have arrived at this point thanks to President Gipp's vision and the persistence and good work of Dr. Phil Baird, Dr. Stacie Iken, Lisa J. Azure, and many others.

      With sincerity, I thank each of you for helping create a more promising tomorrow for our students and tribal nations.

      And I welcome to our campus the NCA-HCL team, who's members now have the pleasure of reviewing the great work we do in tribal higher education.


Welcome to the NCA-HCL Team
Visiting United Tribes April 18-20, 2011

Dr. Michael W. Westerfield (Team Chair)
Vice President & Dean of Graduate & Adult Studies
William Woods University
Fulton, MO

Dr. Kristin L. Mallory
Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs
Bridgemont Community & Technical College
Montgomery, WV

Dr. Robert G. Martin
Institute of American Indian & Alaska Native Culture & Arts Development
Santa Fe, NM

Dr. Cynthia E. Spiers
Executive Director, Institutional Effectiveness/Assist to President, Planning
James A. Rhodes State College
Lima, OH

Dr. Laura L. Urban
Academic Dean/Chief Academic Officer
Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College