Oklahoma's Oldest Tribal College Takes Giant Step Forward in Accreditation Quest

Comanche Nation College (CNC), the first and oldest tribal college in Oklahoma, has reached a milestone in its quest for accreditation.  On Nov. 1 the Board of Trustees for the North Central Association-Higher Learning Commission voted to grant Comanche Nation College “the status of candidate for accreditation,” according to a letter from NCA-HLC President Sylvia Manning.

"This journey has taken Comanche Nation College four years to accomplish and is indeed an accomplishment to celebrate, as we are now the first Oklahoma tribal college with initial candidacy," said Consuelo Lopez, college president, in a letter to supporters. "The accreditation will give us the ability to provide students with financial aid, thereby giving us independence to meet the needs of our community and better serve our students.”

“With candidate for accreditation status, Comanche Nation College is now approved to offer certificates and associate-level degrees to our students,” said Gene Pekah, college dean of student services.

Partnerships with programs such as the Oklahoma Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (OK EPSCoR) have played a significant role in the tribal college’s growth and quest for accreditation, according to Pekah. 

“Through the EPSCoR partnership, we have been able to build a science department and cyber infrastructure platform that includes equipment most colleges take for granted,” explained Pekah.  “Without EPSCoR we would not have funds to provide our students with these invaluable resources.”

The granting of candidate for accreditation status is based on a self-study written by Comanche Nation College, a report by an evaluation team appointed by NCA-HLC, a report to the NCA-HLC Institutional Actions Council Hearing Committee, and successful responses by Comanche Nation College to these reports.

Although the period of candidacy is four years, Lopez noted in a letter to college supporters that an application for early initial accreditation may be filed in as few as two years. 

 “Oklahoma EPSCoR offers CNC our congratulations on this prestigious accomplishment,” said James P. Wicksted, Oklahoma EPSCoR associate director.  “We look forward to continuing our partnership with the college and assisting in their journey to full accreditation.”

OK EPSCoR was established by the National Science Foundation in 1985 to strengthen Oklahoma’s exploration and growth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  The program’s central goal is to increase the state’s research competitiveness through strategic support of research instruments and facilities, research collaborations, and integrated education and research programs such as those at Comanche Nation College.