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Archive for Saturday, April 23, 2005

Haskell accreditation to be extended 10 years

April 23, 2005

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The results aren't final, but Haskell Indian Nations University officials say they've been assured the school's accreditation will be extended 10 years.

"That is what has been recommended. We'll find out if it goes through sometime this summer or in the fall," said Haskell spokeswoman Lori Tapahonso. "That's extremely good news."

The university is accredited through the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

In keeping with the accreditation process, Haskell officials unveiled a five-year - 2003 to 2008 - comprehensive plan that, if successful, would secure the school's role in American Indian higher education.

Though more than 30 tribes in 12 states have started tribal colleges on or near their reservations. Most offer two-year associate degrees; eight offer four-year baccalaureate degree programs.

Haskell has four four-year degree programs: American Indian studies, business, environmental science and elementary education.

The long-range plan calls for eventually adding a baccalaureate degree in liberal studies.

Other components of the plan call for:

  • Improving graduation rates.
  • Increasing the university's $11 million budget to $20 million by 2008.
  • Improving on-campus security.
  • Expanding student and faculty opportunities in cooperation with Kansas University.
  • Expanding the university's ability to offer courses at off-campus locations -remote reservations, for example - via the Internet.

"We've been working on all of these things for quite some time now," Tapahonso said. "On some, there's been more progress than on others."

Graduation rates are up, she said. Interaction with KU is at an all-time high, and the distance-learning courses are up and running.

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., have set aside $2 million in their respective chambers' budgets for a new science building. Both, too, have expressed an interest in helping increase on-campus security.

But efforts to increase U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs spending at Haskell remain mired in the bureaucracy's politics. Private fund-raising efforts remained stalled.

Budget woes forced the university's Board of Regents to double fees paid by students who live on campus - to $210 from $105 - effective in the fall semester 2005.

Federal laws prevent Haskell from charging tuition. And because its budget is set by the BIA, Haskell's enrollment is capped at about 1,000 students.

As yet, the cap had not reduced demand.

"Every semester we have a waiting list of some 400 students who couldn't get in," Tapahonso said. "What this means is that all across Indian Country, people are recognizing the value and the need for higher education."

Much of Haskell's niche in the education marketplace is defined by its being one of only two American Indian colleges - the other being Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque, N.M. - that does not charge tuition.

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