Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sheldon Jackson College

Sheldon Jackson College

Sheldon Jackson College

Location:Sitka, AK,, USA

Sheldon Jackson College (SJC) was a small private college located on Baranof Island in Sitka, Alaska, United States. Founded in 1878, it was the oldest institution of higher learning in Alaska and maintained a historic relationship with the Presbyterian Church. Named in honor of Rev. Sheldon Jackson, an early missionary and educational leader in Alaska, the school was formerly accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.


[edit] History

Sheldon Jackson School
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark

Richard Allen Memorial Hall on the SJC campus

Sheldon Jackson College is located in Alaska

Sheldon Jackson College

Location:Sitka, Alaska
Coordinates:57°3′3″N 135°19′15″W / 57.05083°N 135.32083°W / 57.05083; -135.32083
Architectural style(s):Octagon Mode
Governing body:Private
Added to NRHP:February 23, 1972[1]
Designated NHL:August 7, 2001[2]
NRHP Reference#:72000193

Similar to the Carlisle Indian School, SJC was initially formed as a "training" school for Alaska Natives. The school was founded in 1878 by Fannie Kellogg and future Governor of Alaska John G. Brady for the Tlingit people. Initially known as the Sitka Industrial and Training School, it nearly closed in 1882 after its original facility, located over a military barracks, burned down. The Presbyterian missionary Sheldon Jackson came to the rescue of the school, raising funds through a national campaign, leading to the construction of a new building on the site of the present campus. In 1910, after Rev. Jackson died, the school was renamed in his honor.

SJC added a boarding high school in 1917, and a college program in 1944. The college program gained accreditation in 1966 and the high school was closed the following year.

In 1972, the school was added to the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district.[3] The school was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2001.[2][4]

[edit] Recent events

The school's educational accreditation was recently under review by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and State of Alaska, a process that happens nationally with colleges and universities. About this process, President David Dobler said, "SJC’s current authorization to operate as an Alaska postsecondary institution has been extended until July 2006, and SJC, at that time, will be required to provide the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE) with documentation of financial and administrative capacity in order for authorization to be renewed."[5] Similarly, the college is under a "show cause" order from the Northwest Commission and must "show cause" why its regional accreditation should not be revoked.

Sheldon Jackson College has a history of financial and retention issues. Due to extremely high turnover rates and poor financial management, the college has been forced to sell historic land and take out extensive loans to cover expenses. The college came under fire in the Fall of 2004 when a financial aid advisor they had hired misrepresented and over-awarded financial aid to nearly all students, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars of debt owed to the college by students.

On June 29, 2007 all academic operations were suspended and all faculty and staff were dismissed due to cash flow shortages. The Board of Trustees gathered together all staff and informed them that June 29 would be the final day of employment. They were also informed all health insurance coverage would cease at that time.

On July 17, 2007 the Alaska Commission on Post-secondary Education (ACPE) announced the cancellation of Sheldon Jackson College's authorization to operate a college in Alaska. The College was reported to be appealing the decision.

As of July 10, there had been no written notification to students regarding the closure of the college.

The school was in fact closed. In March 2008, the official website for the school was off line. In the summer of 2008, the College opened its dorms and facilities for use by local workers and companies.

The fate of the school libraries' collection of rare books and artwork is still in question, the collection has been boxed and stored[6] Alaska Natives still made up over 25% of the last student body.

[edit] Campus institutions

Sheldon Jackson Museum is a museum located on the campus of Sheldon Jackson College. The museum, collection and grounds are owned at administered by the State of Alaska. Organized within the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums, The Sheldon Jackson Museum was purchased by the State in the mid 1980's during the administration of Governor Bill Sheffield. The Museum has no administrative connection to neighboring Sheldon Jackson College.

Sheldon Jackson Museum was founded in 1887, becoming the first museum in the state of Alaska. However, its collection soon outgrew its temporary quarters and a new specially dedicated concrete structure was constructed between 1895 and 1897 and, upon completion, became the first concrete structure ever to be built in Alaska. The museum continues to be located in this structure.

Many of the artifacts housed in the museum (over 5,000) were originally collected by Rev. Sheldon Jackson in his travels through rural Alaska. The museum's collection almost exclusively focus on Alaskan Native groups such as the Aleuts, Athabascans, Eskimos, and Tlingit/Tsimshian.

An affiliated advocacy group, The Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum, operate an onsite museum gift shop that exclusively carries items crafted by Alaska Native artists. The Friends also sponsor several Museum programs, including the Alaska Native Artist Demonstrators Program during the summer months.

Stratton Library was an academic library at the college. The library building contains 48,000 items in its collection with over 10 percent of all material being directly related to Alaska's history, including many first edition books and rare periodicals.

[edit] Notable alumni

  • Elizabeth Peratrovich, civil rights activist

  • Sandra Marbut, Head Coach of Women's Basketball at California Institute of Technology

  • Dr. Walter Soboleff, Tlingit scholar, Alaska Native Brotherhood Grand President Emeritus.

[edit] Notes

[edit] External links

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