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Wind River Institute to offer college program in fall

Mar 17, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Evergreen State College in Washington is expanding its Reservation-Based Community-Determined program to reach students in Wyoming.

The program has been offered on six reservations in Washington for 20 years, and the Wind River Institute in Fort Washakie will begin offering the RBCD program in the fall.

The program is open to anyone but best fits students who have an associate degree or the number of credits equal to an associate degree.

"Evergreen runs on a quarter system, so a student needs to have 90 quarter credits or 65 semester credits to begin the program," said Lorre Hoffman of the Wind River Institute.

Students at the Wind River Institute will pay the same $8,000-a-year tuition rate as in-state students at Evergreen, she added.

"The Evergreen State College is an accredited higher education school, so students can get all financial aid, such as Pell grants or any other scholarships, to help pay for school," Hoffman said. "Evergreen will hire qualified adjunct instructors from this area based on the needs of the program."

Parts of the program make use of case studies and examine aspects of tribal government, tribal nations, building Native nations and healthy communities, ethics and other leadership education. For each quarter two credits are "community determined" which means attending students choose what they want to learn or study in the course.

Michael Zimmerman, the vice president for academic affairs at Evergreen, said the program was a "new and very exciting initiative" that was modeled to incorporate Native issues and was designed in partnership with tribal members.

"In other words, although the program provides a very rich liberal arts education, focusing on critical thinking skills and the development of communication and research capabilities, much of that is done within a context that is centered on issues of particular interest to members of Native communities," Zimmerman said.

He added that many graduates from the program have been older and have used the degree to become role models in their communities. Others became more involved in their communities and while others worked in state government or toward advanced degrees.

"A surprising percentage, perhaps the largest contingent of our graduates, have gone on to enter our masters of public administration program with an emphasis in tribal government, the only such program in the nation," Zimmerman said.

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