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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Tribal Colleges And University Gather To Improve Student Success
by Lailani Upham - Char-Koosta News
John Gritts, U.S. Department of Education program analyst and Cherokee member, and Jackie Swain, SKC Financial Aid Director, help out with the give-away to honor founding academic members who served over 15 years at TCU institutions across the nation. (Lailani Upham photo)

PABLO — Hundreds of tribal college and university administrators met last week at Salish Kootenai College campus for a four-day Tribal College University Summer training focused on campus effectiveness through better collaboration of academic and student services to enhance tribal college student success across the nation.

The annual event started at SKC over three decades ago and has been ongoing since, according to John Gritts, U.S. Department of Education program analyst and Cherokee member.

Gritts said he and former SKC President Joe McDonald along with others started meeting in the early days to figure out "how to do things better for the students," and the meeting turned into major trainings that grow each year at the SKC campus.

"This annual event is designed for all levels of administration across all of our campuses and focuses on intercampus effectiveness. We believe that the presentations discussions, and interactions participants engage in will strengthen student success work," said Carrie Billy, American Indian Higher Education Consortium President.

"We are pleased to be a part of such an important meeting," said Marcia Boyd, Director, Minority Serving and Under Resourced Schools Division U.S. Department of Education. The "institutional effectiveness" theme is highly appropriate as a campus recipe for assessing the current status, designing and change process, creating goals and implementing change, said Boyd.

"It is imperative that American Indian students at all levels of the educational system receive a high quality education that prepares them for whatever future they envision," said Sandra Boham, SKC President.

Boham said, "It is a challenge with the current climate of continually being tasked with doing more with less." Tightening budgets, public misconceptions, and a changing political and economic climate are just a few of the challenges that tribal colleges face, Boham said.

A few agenda items included: keynote address by Ron His Horse, former TCU president and Tribal Chair of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, "Relation within TCU's"; morning circles; respondent from academic and student perspectives; best practices; group reports; reflections and comments; how to develop a housing program; cost of attendance; nuts and bolts of residence life; "Flipped Classrooms: definition, concept, and implementation;" effectively using data; new cash management; college websites essential information; fraud and abuse in federal education programs; distance education; policy and procedures; and more.

The closing ceremony on Thursday afternoon at the People Center grounds recognized and honored founding members of the annual conference and individuals who served TCU's for 15 years or more.

The late Bill Hay, financial aid officer at Sinte Gleska University, was honored as a founding member and his service for decades to tribal college students.

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