Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College is a unique institution,
created by the Minnesota Legislature in 1987 and chartered as
a tribal college by the Fond du Lac Reservation that same year.
Its commitment to meeting the educational needs of a diverse
population is reflected in its mission statement.
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College opened its doors in
the Fall Quarter of 1987, eight years after the Fond du Lac Reservation
Business Committee first voiced the need for a community college
as part of a comprehensive educational plan for the reservation.
The tribal-community college idea gained momentum in the early
1980s as the Reservation Business Committee documented a
need for higher educational opportunities among the residents
of both Carlton and St. Louis counties in Minnesota.
In 1985, Mesabi Community College accepted the Reservation Business
Committee's invitation to hold college classes at the Ojibwe
School site on the Fond du Lac Reservation. The collaboration
was immediately successful and in 1986, the Minnesota Legislature
funded a feasibility study for a community college operated as
a joint venture of the Fond du Lac Reservation and the Arrowhead
Community College Region.
In 1987, the Bureau of Indian Affairs determined that Fond du
Lac Tribal and Community College was eligible for funding under
the Tribally Controlled Community College Act (Public Law 95471),
and the Minnesota Legislature appropriated money for the college's
first two years of operation. The college utilized classroom
and office space in the Garfield Building in Cloquet.
In 1989, the Minnesota Legislature authorized the beginning
of design development for a college campus. A planning committee
representing tribal and civic government, business, the Arrowhead
Community College Region, college students, faculty, and staff
worked with architect Thomas A. Hodne, Jr. to produce a concept
reflecting both American Indian and non-Indian cultural values.
The Minnesota Legislature approved the plan later that year.
Architectural plans completed in 1990 called for a campus built
in phases. Construction of the first phase began in July 1991.
Plans included classrooms, library, computer labs, and student
services, faculty and administrative offices. The new campus,
able to accommodate the equivalent of 500 full-time students,
opened its doors Fall Quarter 1992.
In 1994, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs reconfirmed Fond
du Lac Tribal and Community College as a tribal college under
the Tribal Community College Act. Congress passed legislation
giving Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College status as a Land
Grant Institution, and the Minnesota Legislature approved Fond
du Lac Tribal and Community College as a full college by state
standards with co-governance language between the state and the
Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. The Minnesota Higher
Education Board confirmed Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College
as a full community college, according to state system standards
In 1995, planning funds were appropriated by the legislature
for the development of phase two in the building program. Plans
included the construction of on-campus student housing.
The on-campus student housing project moved forward during 1996
as the Minnesota Legislature appropriated funding for construction
of the new housing complex at the college. Groundbreaking for
the on-campus student housing facility took place in September
1998. The housing facility was completed in August 1999.
A satellite uplink was added in 1996, enabling the college to
send and receive additional course offerings via a distance learning
network. In 1997, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College celebrated
its tenth year of operation. It was a decade of excellence, evident
in the rapid growth and expansion of the college, and its acceptance
by local, state and national governing bodies and education boards.
Starting with the new academic year in the Fall of 1998, Fond
du Lac Tribal and Community College changed from a quarter term
system to a semester term system. In June of 1998, the United
States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation
Service partnered with the college to establish on campus a national
Center of Excellence emphasizing soil science map compilation.
The final year of the century, 1999, was an eventful one at
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. In May 1999, after
an intensive self-study process and site visit evaluation, the
college was recommended for accreditation by the Commission on
Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association
of Colleges and Schools. In August, the new residence hall on
campus was completed and the first students moved in for Fall
With the growing popularity of the college and the increasing
enrollment creating extra demand for classroom and office
space, the Minnesota Legislature approved a $4.5 million bonding
request to expand the academic classroom building on campus.
Combined with an additional $3 million of privately raised funds,
the expansion project added nearly 40,000 square feet of classrooms,
faculty offices, student meeting and casual space, tutoring
center, conference rooms and storage areas. Groundbreaking occurred
in August 2002, and the building expansion was completed one
year later in August 2003.
In 2003, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College also gained
approval from the Minnesota Legislature and the Minnesota State
Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees to develop and offer
a baccalaureate degree program in Elementary Education. With
this approval, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College is the
only community college in Minnesota with the ability to offer
four-year bachelors degrees.