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Aug 2, 2023 | TCU Press Releases

Dr. Tomi Kay Phillips takes the helm of Sitting Bull College as new president

FORT YATES, N.D. – The Sitting Bull College Board of Trustees is pleased to announce Dr. Tomi Kay Phillips has been named the new President of Sitting Bull College (SBC).

Dr. Phillips will take the helm on January 1, 2024. She will begin a mentoring period on August 1, 2023 with current president, Dr. Laurel Vermillion until Dr. Vermillion’s retirement on January 1, 2024.

Sitting Bull College is currently celebrating its 50th Anniversary as an education institution serving the higher education needs of the Standing Rock Nation. This is a critical time, as Sitting Bull College is currently renewing its accreditation with a visit from the Higher Learning Commission scheduled for October of 2023.

Dr. Laurel Vermillion will be retiring as the SBC president on January 1, 2024. Laurel’s future plans include working with K-12 schools and teachers on Standing Rock to provide mentoring and support. Being an educator for many years, Laurel is concerned that the K-12 teachers coming to the Standing Rock schools need cultural awareness and education about the Lakota/Dakota way of life, native students, native families, and the communities on Standing Rock. Laurel also plans to support the Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) by continuing to serve on several Advisory Boards. Laurel will miss the SBC Family immensely, but she is confident the great work will continue for SBC with the strong leadership from Dr. Tomi Kay.

Dr. Phillips is an US Army Veteran, and a Bush Fellow. She has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Mary and a Master of Science in Education Leadership from the University of North Dakota. She received her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Administration from the University of Mary.

Dr. Tomi Kay’s Lakota name is Cante Wakan Win. She is Hunkpapa and Minnecoujou Lakota. Her mother is Maxine Claymore Phillips and her father is the late Duane Phillips. Paternal grandparents are John Lends His Horses Phillips and Emma Brush Horn Phillips. Her maternal grandparents are Sam Claymore and Leona Many Wounds Claymore.

Dr. Phillips’ life partner is John Montclair and she has two daughters, Sondi and Regan, three sons, Trevor, Sam, and Alex and one grandson, Cruz Montclair

Sitting Bull College’s new president has lived on Standing Rock for the majority of her life. She is an educator with over 28 years of experience with 18 of those years as an administrator. Dr. Phillips has worked in the capacity of teacher, mentor, director, and administrator. Her teaching experience include teaching in an inner-city school system, in rural public and tribal schools. Her administrator experience includes working in the public-school system, BIE and Tribal Grant school system, and a private school on Standing Rock.

After these many years as a teacher and school administrator, Dr. Phillips said she understood fully the importance of how education can offer more choices for not only children but the citizens of Standing Rock. She plans to be a voice for education at Sitting Bull College for the Standing Rock Nation. She wants our children to see people who look like them be successful and inspire them to do well in whatever they choose in life.

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