P.O. Box 3129
Sells, AZ 85634
Mission, Vision, Educational Philosophy
As an accredited and Land Grant Institution, Tohono O’odham Community College’s (TOCC) mission is to enhance the unique Tohono O’odham Himdag by strengthening individuals, families, and communities through holistic, quality higher education services. These services include research opportunities and programs that address academic, life, and development skills.
TOCC’s vision is to become the Tohono O’odham Nation’s center for higher education, and to enhance the nation’s participation in the local, state, national, and global communities. TOCC strives to strengthen academic learning, to include elders as a means of reinforcing Tohono O'odham Himdag (or cultural identity), to recruit highly qualified faculty and staff, to ensure the integration of Tohono O'odham Himdag within the college, to ensure that curricular offerings are relevant to the needs of communities and individuals, and to employ technology.
Tohono O’odham leaders and members of the community publicly asserted the need for increased higher education opportunities and a local tribal college as early as the 1970s. In 1998, the Tohono O’odham Nation chartered the college and embarked upon a rigorous agenda to reach accreditation. TOCC began offering classes in 2000 through an intergovernmental agreement with Pima County Community College District in a temporary modular unit that served as the college campus. In 2001, the former Tohono O’odham Career Center merged with TOCC, allowing the college to offer construction trades and other vocational programs.
By 2004, the college achieved status as a Land Grant Institution and embarked upon finding a permanent campus location. The next year, TOCC achieved accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The HLC renewed TOCC’s accreditation in 2011.
Geographic Features and Challenges
Sells, Arizona serves as both the capital of the Tohono O'odham Nation and Tohono O'odham Community College. Located in southern Arizona, just west of Tucson, Arizona along the United States – Mexico international border, TOCC offers courses at its main and west campuses and other sites across the Tohono O’odham Nation. Approximately 15,000 tribal members reside on the 2.8 million acre reservation, the second largest reservation in the country. It covers an area roughly the size of Connecticut.
The multi-site campus serves as both an asset and a challenge to the college. On one hand, students may access classes from multiple sites on the expansive reservation. However, because the main campus houses some classes and the west campus provides others, students must find reliable transportation between sites.
Academics and Students
TOCC boasts a twenty-seven member faculty comprised of 57 percent American Indians. Of those, half identify as O’odham. Since 2006, enrollment remained steady at approximately 200 students enrolling each fall. TOCC serves a highly non-traditional student population. Ninety percent of students enroll part-time. Females make up 71 percent of the student body; American Indians represent 93 percent of all students. Nearly eight out of every ten students is over the age of 24.
To meet the needs of this unique student population, TOCC primarily offers associate’s degrees for transfer to four-year universities and degrees and certificates for direct employment. Students taking general education coursework intending to transfer benefit from the college’s participation in the Arizona General Education Curriculum (AGEC), a block of 35 or more credits transferrable to another Arizona public community college or university without the loss of any credits. TOCC currently offers AGEC-associate’s degrees in liberal arts, business, science, and Tohono O’odham Studies. TOCC also offers four certificate programs and three associates’ of applied science programs. In the 2009-2010 academic year, TOCC conferred two associates’ degrees and six certificates.
Other Outstanding Accomplishments
TOCC’s recent accomplishments attest to the exciting new chapter in the young tribal college’s history. The college’s new permanent campus creates an enhanced student experience and augments institutional authenticity in ways that proved difficult when located in temporary modular buildings. TOCC earned its five-year accreditation in 2011. Also, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded TOCC its first grant, aimed at researching renewable energy options.
As institutional capacity increased in recent years, enrollment climbed as well. Enrollment now includes nearly 50 students each year who take advantage of the college’s dual enrollment program. The program allows students to earn college credit while still enrolled in high school.