On Wednesday, January 22, 2014 Sitting Bull College (SBC) was officially notified of the results of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools reaffirmation of accreditation evaluation visit completed on October 7-9, 2013. The evaluation was completed by a team of four peer reviewers from various educational institutions in the north central area of the United States. As a result of this evaluation, SBC was granted another ten years of continued accreditation with the next accreditation visit scheduled for 2023-2024.
In addition, to the reaffirmation for accreditation the team recommended approval for SBC to begin to offer a Master’s of Science degree in Environmental Science. Dr. Laurel Vermillion, President of SBC indicated that this is a very significant event due to Sitting Bull College being the first Tribal College in the state of North Dakota to be approved to offer a Master’s program. The program will begin in the fall of 2014. The Science Department at SBC developed the Master’s program out of a growing need for environmental scientists who can assess environmental problems and find solutions. The new degree Master’s program would teach students the science and the management of the environment and environmental problems. Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary field and students will gain scientific knowledge of biological, chemical, physical, social, and economic components in the management of natural resources.
The accreditation team visited with Board of Trustees, Administration, Faculty, Staff, Students, and Community Members during their 2 and a half days on campus. The team believed that Sitting Bull College has matured into a very stable, financially secure, and well managed college. It was noted by the team that SBC was able to respond to identified challenges and concerns from previous evaluations and have become stronger as a result of the monitoring over the past ten years. The team indicated that the college has leveraged all available resources to build a very impressive campus that serves the needs of its students and its community. All of these things have been accomplished in keeping with the teachings and vision of Sitting Bull, and is reflected in SBC’s adopted mission, vision and values. The team felt that SBC experiences many of the same challenges of any small college including those specific to tribal colleges, and have learned from their experiences and manage to stretch their scarce resources and relatively small leadership team, faculty and staff to meet the needs of their community.
Dr. Koreen Ressler, Vice President of Academics served as the self-study coordinator for the visit and provided the insight for the completion of the College’s self-study report addressing the five criteria for accreditation, along with the change request for adding the Master’s program. Dr. Ressler indicated that SBC’s success comes from a strong commitment for following policies and procedures and implementation of procedures to ensure institutional effectiveness.
Sitting Bull College is a tribally controlled college located on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation encompasses a vast land base of 2.4 million acres and straddles the States of North and South Dakota. The main campus is located in Fort Yates, ND with additional sites in McLaughlin and Mobridge, SD. The college has been continuously accredited since 1984. Sitting Bull College offers academic and career and technical education programs of study that consist of seven Bachelor of Science, five Associate of Arts, eleven Associate of Science, four Associate of Applied Science, and twelve certificate programs.
The Higher Learning Commission is one of six regional institutional accrediting associations in the United States. Through its Commissions it accredits, and thereby grants membership to educational institutions in the nineteen-state North Central region: Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.