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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.

wide view of auditorium on campusFond 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.

winter view of entrance rotundaIn 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 for funding.

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.

abstract angle of building exteriorThe 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 Semester.

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.

 2101 14th Street       Cloquet, Minnesota 55720       1.800.657.3712       218.879.0800       TTY 218.879.0805