Through an agreement with Friends University, members and employees of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation can now obtain a college degree without leaving the reservation.
Beginning this fall, tribal members can enroll in a Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Management degree completion program; and in spring 2011, they will be able to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management and Leadership (OML) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
Classes for these on-site programs will be taught at the PBPN’s Government Center in Mayetta, Kan., meeting once per week. Depending on the program, degree-completion and graduate coursework can be completed within 13 months to 24 months.
Other degree programs are offered online and at the university’s Topeka Education Center.
Founded in 1898, Friends University is an independent, Christian-based liberal arts institution with an enrollment of about 3,000. Its main campus is in Wichita but it has offered programs for adult students in Topeka since 1993.
The tribe has around 5,000 members, though not all live on the reservation. Over the last three years, it has funded the college education of, on average, 120 members per semester.
Kristen Aitkens, the tribe’s director of education, believes the partnership with Friends will mean more members who live on the reservation will pursue a higher education.
“We are trying to provide another outlet for those students who choose to live and work on the reservation,” she said.
The tribe is the first in Kansas to partner with a university to provide an on-reservation classroom.
Tribes interested in a similar arrangement with one of their local colleges, be prepared to invest resources in selecting the right school. Aitkens said her department considered proposals from more than one university. She also underscored the importance of communications and looking at things that can’t be seen on paper, like how a university representative treats tribal members.
“We were fortunate that Friends University took a great interest in our community and are very open with the education department and utilize our input to best meet the needs of the people. Friends University is truly invested in this partnership and is taking their part very seriously,” Aitkens said.