Meet Ilisagvik College, the newest tribal college
November 15, 2011
With the formation of a home-rule government called the North Slope Borough in 1972, the Iñupiat people took their first steps towards regaining control of their lives and destinies, and founded Ilisagvik College to serve the residents of the North Slope Borough, America’s largest and most northern municipality in Alaska. Located in Barrow, Alaska, population 4,000, the college serves more than 89,000 square miles of the outlying Arctic tundra region that is unconnected by road or rail and ice-locked nine months of the year. The foundation of all curricula at Ilisagvik College, whose name means “the learning place,” is the Iñupiaq cultural heritage, which is based on subsistence and living in harmony with the land and seas. College programs work to strengthen the language and traditions of the Iñupiat, while creating successful graduates who can incorporate traditional values into modern life, enhancing both.
In 1986, the North Slope Borough created the North Slope Higher Education Center, a cooperative effort between the North Slope Borough and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The North Slope Higher Education Center’s Board and the North Slope Borough Assembly changed the institution’s name to Arctic Sivunmun Ilisagvik College in 1991 to reflect its transformation to a community college. Arctic Sivunmun Ilisagvik College merged with the Mayor’s Workforce Development Program in 1993, adding facilities and resources to support the college’s growing vocational education opportunities. In 1995, the North Slope Borough established by ordinance the Ilisagvik College Corporation, an independent, public, non-profit corporation with full power for governance of the college vested in the Board of Trustees.
Ilisagvik earned accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities in 2003 and is authorized by the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education to operate in the state of Alaska. In 2006, it became the first and only federally recognized tribal college in Alaska.