Comanche Nation College receives letter of initial candidacy for accreditation
Banners greeted visitors to the Comanche Nation College Thursday with a simple, singular message written in two tongues: "Welcome Maruaweka."
As college president Consuelo Lopez thanked the many staff, volunteers and visitors who made the day's celebration of the college's recent letter of initial candidacy for accreditation a success, that message seemed to be an underlying theme for the college's advancement and success for now and in the future.
"Not only are we an education option for Native American students but we are open and available for students from the whole community," Lopez said.
Housed in the old Will Rogers School at 1608 SW 9th, the college has come a long way in its decade of existence. Now it is the first and oldest tribal college in Oklahoma able to offer certificates and associate-level degrees.
When Lopez arrived on the job in May 2009, accreditation was the goal a goal Lopez said she believed was achievable in two years. Now that the first tier has been reached, she said the goal is for full acceptance by the Board of Trustees for the North Central Association-Higher Learning Commission of Chicago, Ill., as a fully accredited university.
It took a lot of hard work, Lopez said. The first step was to transform the building from a "schoolhouse" into an avenue of higher learning, she said. Physical changes and remodeling were part of the process and when complete ownership of the building was achieved, a big chunk of the journey had been made, she said.
"Then our work began," Lopez said.
Lopez cited the Native Language Lab as being a prime example of an aesthetic change that also serves as a functioning learning tool. The room offered several everyday household items with their Comanche names attached. The new look offers instructors an extra avenue by offering immersion by design, she said.
The college was site for a day of activities and demonstration; it was also the setting for reverential moments. Throughout the campus halls, murals by Quanah Parker Burgess and Cynthia Clay and framed, autographed prints of Rance Hood's artwork offered dreamy inspiration with imagery of traditional motifs taken to new avenues via modern interpretation.