Posted: May 22, 2007

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College plans to reorganize into two separate accredited colleges to enhance programs and services to students and area residents, officials of the two institutions said today. Negotiations are continuing that may result in the colleges sharing some functions.

To solidify the new structure, each college is seeking separate accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. Under the new arrangement, Fond du Lac Tribal College will be governed by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa's Tribal College Board, and Fond du Lac Community College will operate within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. The accreditation process, which is expected to be completed in 2008, will be largely invisible to students.

Under the new organization, the Tribal College Board appointed Patty Petite, previously the accreditation coordinator for the tribal college, as president and Donna Statzell, former director of institutional research at College of Menominee Nation in Keshena, Wis., as vice-president for academic affairs for the tribal college. Donald Day, current president of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, will continue as president of the community college.

The reorganization is occurring because the Tribal College Board wants to strengthen its role in enhancing the educational opportunities available at the college and ensure that future funding for the tribal college is available from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Vern Zacher, chairman of the Fond du Lac Tribal College Board, said, "A new era is beginning for Fond du Lac Tribal College. The Tribal College has invested resources historically and will continue to build on the strengths of partnering with the community college in the future. The reorganization is necessary for building an even stronger tribal college for members of our band and other American Indian students."

"This new structure will enable the two colleges to expand programs and services as well as enhance opportunities for grants and other sources of funds," said James H. McCormick, chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. "At the same time, the colleges will work together to serve students and the community."

The current structure has been in effect since 1987 under an agreement with the Fond du Lac Band and the state of Minnesota. Since then, the college's graduates have gone on to serve the Fond du Lac Reservation and the Cloquet area as teachers, law enforcement officers, nurses, accountants, computer and information technology specialists and social workers, among others.

The two presidents said the new arrangement will benefit students. "As people who believe strongly in the mission of this institution, we are committed to continuing the high-quality programs and services," Day said. Petite added, "We will make sure the new structure works as seamlessly as possible for the students, staff and community. We know that higher education opens doors to opportunities and a quality of life that leads to financial stability and career satisfaction."

Fond du Lac Tribal College is one of 32 tribal colleges serving American Indians nationwide through the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. The tribal colleges served 16,986 students in 621 different undergraduate majors.