KBOCC earns full accreditation

BARAGA – The Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College recently received full accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and a community gathering will be held to celebrate.

The public is invited to attend the celebration 1-4 p.m. Friday at the Big Bucks Bingo Hall in Baraga. Information will be provided about the new opportunities accreditation will bring, along with the tribal college’s future endeavors. Refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be provided.

KBOCC was notified of its full accreditation on July 12 after being affiliated with the HLC as a candidate since 2009, and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, visited the college’s Baraga campus Tuesday to learn more about it.

“Having accreditation will bring other opportunities to students,” said a press release from the KBOCC, “including funding for additional programs and services, new scholarships such as the (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education) program for teachers in an early childhood setting, and eligibility in other federal programs, such as the (U.S. Department of Agriculture).”

According to Dr. Lynn Aho, as a result of accreditation, KBOCC can participate in the Michigan Transfer Network, and develop articulation agreements with four-year colleges and universities, which will help students in pursuit of bachelor degrees.

To earn the accreditation, KBOCC had to meet the following five criteria: presenting and carrying out its mission; conducting its operations ethically and responsibly; providing high quality education; evaluating and improving teaching and learning; and having the resources, planning and institutional effectiveness to meet future challenges and opportunities.

To gain candidacy status in 2009, the college had to demonstrate eligibility in a preliminary application, conduct a two-year self study and host a peer review team. As a candidate, KBOCC could participate in federal programs, including Federal Student Aid.

In addition to learning about the college’s accreditation, Stabenow, while meeting with KBOCC President Debbie Parrish and other employees, heard about the institution’s recent expansion to the Wabanung (East) Campus at the former Baraga County Memorial Hospital building in L’Anse. The first phase of construction is well under way after KBOCC purchased the facility in April, and it will provide 54,000 square feet of additional space. To date, nine classrooms have been constructed, along with five student services offices. Phase I is expected to be completed by Sept. 30.

Phase II of the facility plan will begin in October, including renovations for a science lab, library, computer center, fitness center and two additional classrooms. A third phase of renovation will include a business/entrepreneurial center, Certified Nursing Assistant program, culinary arts and additional classrooms, with an expected completion date of Fall 2014.

The former Carmody building across from the hospital building has also recently been renovated, and it serves as the OCC Child Care Center. It opened three weeks ago and is open to the public during regular working hours. Call 524-HUGS (4847) for more information.

Also during her visit, according to a KBOCC press release, Stabenow talked with KBOCC officials about tribal college initiatives, including the following: equity in operational funding that is consistent with financial support to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions; opposition to a move from the Bureau of Indian Education to the Department of Education; and recommendations for revisions to the Higher Education Act, including an amendment creating a new section under Title III-A to provide grants to Tribal Colleges and Universities to promote the preservation, revitalization, relevancy and use of Native American languages.

Parrish also requested Stabenow’s assistance in a round table discussion with the Tribal Colleges and President Barack Obama, as he did with other minority institutions.

For more information about the KBOCC, its accreditation and Friday’s upcoming celebration, visit