RED LAKE, Minn. — Red Lake Nation College has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an achievement that came after 10 years of effort.

At the end of last month, Red Lake Nation College was granted initial accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, according to a release Red Lake college President Dan King sent this week.

According to King, attaining accreditation is the culmination of a 10-year process. Earning regional accreditation is a major achievement demonstrating that a college meets the commission’s quality standards and is engaged in continuous improvement, he explained.

“We began pursuing accreditation shortly after I arrived at RLNC in 2010, and have been working relentlessly toward this goal ever since,” King said in the release. “This is a significant milestone for the college, a huge benefit to all of our students, and it is a monumental achievement for the Red Lake Nation. Having an accredited tribal college assures that tribal members have access and opportunities for high quality, Ojibwe language and culture-based higher education right here on the Red Lake Reservation.”

As a two-year tribal college, Red Lake Nation College often serves as a bridge to higher education for students.

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“The Red Lake Nation desperately needs more educated tribal members, and RLNC is the solution," King said. "Our vision is for our graduates to continue their education, earn bachelor’s and advanced degrees, and go on to be leaders who bring positive change to their communities, tribes, and the world."

The Higher Learning Commission is an independent corporation founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. The commission accredits degree-granting postsecondary educational institutions in the North Central region, which includes 19 states, according to its website.

The Higher Learning Commission Board of Trustees voted to grant the college initial accreditation at its meeting on Feb. 25, after a 10-year accreditation process that included extensive academic compliance materials and reports from several comprehensive evaluations. Red Lake Nation College was first invited to be a candidate for accreditation by the commission in 2016.

“Preparing for a comprehensive accreditation evaluation and site visit is challenging during the best of times,” King said. “RLNC did it during a pandemic, in the midst of an unplanned transition to remote learning, while adapting to constantly changing conditions. Despite the unprecedented circumstances, we successfully hosted one of the first-ever HLC site visits utilizing virtual reality technology and we achieved our goal.

"I couldn’t be more proud of our exceptional team of RLNC administrators, staff and faculty.”