More than 114 years after it was organized as a boarding school for young Indian children, Haskell Indian Nations University has taken giant strides in becoming one of the most important educational institutions for Native American students in the United States.
The university, which served as a junior college until the early 1990s, has been approved to offer three more baccalaureate degrees in addition to the elementary education baccalaureate program that has been in place since 1994.
``This marks a significant step in our progress as a four-year university, which will benefit our students and Indian Country,'' Haskell president Bob Martin said. ``This is a tribute to the dedication and commitment of our faculty, staff and students who have worked many long hours for this to become a reality.''
The new programs are American Indian studies, business administration and environmental science. Courses in American Indian studies and business administration will begin this fall. Environmental science classes will begin in fall 1999, Martin said.
The addition of the new classes means greater diversity for the university, Martin said.
``It will allow us to be involved with more conferences and workshops,'' he said. ``We're especially interested in preservation of language and culture.''
The school served as host for the Potowatomi Language Institute this summer.
New programs mean expansion for the campus, and the top priority is a science building, Martin said.
``We will continue to seek funding for that,'' he said.
Martin said Haskell needs $10 million to build a new science facility or a minimum of $3 million to $4 million to renovate Pontiac Hall. A new facility is the preferred option, Martin said.
``Pontiac Hall has a lot less square footage than we need,'' he said.
Martin said money for the project will most likely come from a combination of private donations and appropriated government funds.
``We're looking to put together a number of partners,'' he said.
An expanded campus and new programs also have led to an increase in enrollment. This fall about 1,250 students are enrolled at the school, up from 800 last spring. However, Martin said, the increased numbers include a significant number of ``no-shows,'' students who enroll in the spring or summer, then choose not to come to the school once the fall semester begins.
Even so, numbers are up and the result is a housing crunch that won't ease housing woes until fall 1999.
Haskell opened its newest residence hall, Roe Cloud, last spring and now is renovating Osceola-Keokuk and Winona halls.
Through a task force with Kansas University and the city of Lawrence, Haskell is expanding its substance abuse program, Martin said.
``We're going to place more emphasis on prevention, intervention and education,'' he said. ``I think when we look at problems of violence and assault, they're usually alcohol-related.''
The task force will bring programs to students on campus, offer focus groups and provide alternatives to alcohol abuse.
``We know if we can improve those situations it will lead to better performance in the classroom,'' Martin said.
Haskell continues to expand programs that it started in previous years, including an exchange program with KU, summer internships for students and faculty expansion.
``Word is getting out on opportunities for students to work on their baccalaureate degrees,'' Martin said. ``We're looking forward to a number of good things ahead.''
-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.