U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts visited Haskell Indian Nations University Tuesday to push legislation that would make Haskell a four-year university.
The senator met with Haskell President Bob Martin and toured campus facilities.
"We have a positive outlook on the legislation to make this a four-year university," Roberts said. "With the land-grant status, we feel like we can improve education for Native American students all over the country."
Haskell was granted land-grant status in 1994, making it eligible for access to U.S. Department of Agriculture research and extension programs. Haskell has used the program to bolster its science programs.
Currently, Haskell receives approximately $10 million in government funding each year, making up the majority of the school's budget. It falls under the auspices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a federal government agency.
Haskell offers a four-year teacher education program, but it is still waiting for accreditation from the Kansas Board of Education before the university status becomes permanent. Once that happens, Haskell will offer other four-year programs in Native American studies, business and science.
One of Haskell's greatest priorities is the construction of a new science facility, and while Haskell has received funding for science projects, there isn't funding available yet for construction of a new facility.
Chemistry professor Dennis O'Malley led the group on a tour of Pontiac and Sequoyah halls, where Roberts described the conditions as "crowded."
"Our current facilities won't meet standards," Martin said. "A library is another priority, but the science lab is our No. 1 priority."
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