Bay Mills Community College
12214 West Lakeshore Drive
Brimley, MI 49715
Mission, Vision, Educational Philosophy
The mission of Bay Mills Community College (BMCC) is to provide quality educational opportunities, promote research, and facilitate individual development in an accessible, community-based, and culturally diverse environment that supports and maintains the Anishinaabek culture and language.
BMCC’s objectives include:
• To provide the Native American communities of Michigan with educated and trained human resources;
• To provide educational opportunities, including academic, research, vocational, basic skill building, cultural and in-service programs leading to appropriate certifications, degrees and diplomas;
• To foster a spirit of pride in Native American language, culture and history through participation course work and cultural activities;
• To provide a qualified, dedicated, student-centered staff and faculty;
• To help students attain the necessary skills and self-esteem which will facilitate personal and career fulfillment;
• To prepare and encourage all students to pursue advanced degrees; and
• To provide continuing and community education.
BMCC’s educational philosophy is to provide high quality educational opportunities to all tribal communities in Michigan and their neighbors. Its continuing education program further illustrates this commitment to accessibility, along with its dual enrollment program allowing youth to earn college credit while still attending high school, and the Native American Studies courses it offers free of charge.
The Bay Mills Indian Community (BMIC) is a tribal nation covering four square miles, and serves as the land base of one of the many Sault Ste. Marie bands of Chippewa Indians. BMIC chartered BMCC in 1984 to serve the post secondary needs of the 1,500 enrolled members of the tribe and other Native Americans throughout Michigan. The college received Land Grant Status in 1994. In August 1995, the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC) granted accreditation to BMCC, making it the first accredited tribally community college in Michigan. The HLC reviewed BMCC again in 2008 and recommended its continuing accreditation for an additional ten years.
Geographic Features and Challenges
Bay Mills Community College lies on the shores of Saint Mary’s River and Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula area of Michigan. Due to the rural setting, BMCC students often must drive as far as 100 miles round trip daily to attend classes, a logistical and economic hindrance for many. Similarly, BMCC’s geographic isolation has created some difficult challenges for faculty recruitment and retention efforts at the college.
Academics & Students
BMCC is a two-year institution that offers programs for an associate’s degree of applied science, associate’s degree of arts, and an associate's degree of science; as well as certificates and diplomas in 25 areas of study.
BMCC assists students’ successful transition to four-year institutions through its articulation agreements with Michigan colleges and universities. BMCC has 22 such agreements, intended to remove barriers for transferring credits.
Academics at BMCC expanded in recent years with the growth of its online programs. The college offers online courses in 20 areas of study and online associate’s degree programs in business administration and early childhood education. These programs allow BMCC to enroll students in 40 states and abroad.
Student enrollment and graduation outcomes currently reflect the evolution of BMCC’s academic programs. Since 2006, BMCC has maintained student enrollment numbers above 500. In comparison, graduation rates at the same time have exploded. Indeed, 550 students enrolled in 2006. That academic year, BMCC awarded eight associates' degrees. In the 2010-2011 academic year, 580 students enrolled, 44 students received associate’s degrees, and an additional 40 students received certificates or diplomas.
Such rapid success serves as testament to local demand for quality educational programs. BMCC’s appeal beyond its local tribal member base further illustrates this. Although Bay Mills Indian Community originally chartered the college in response to the limited educational opportunities in the region for its tribal members, non-Native students have also flocked to the school. Non-Native students now make up 40 percent of all enrolled students. As a result, the evolving history of Bay Mills illustrates an institution committed to “growing its own” by recruiting and retaining tribal members, while also serving the broader community all with remarkable success.
Other Outstanding Accomplishments
BMCC’s graduation rates, the growth of its online presence, and the vocation training and employment opportunities all affect the quality of life in the region. Other accomplishments demonstrate BMCC’s influence on education throughout Michigan state and nationwide.
• The state of Michigan formally recognizes Bay Mills Community College Board of Regents as a Charter School Authorizer. Since 2000, the BMCC Board of Regents has chartered 44 schools including the Ojibwe Charter School, located on the reservation.
• BMCC recently began offering free online early childhood education classes with the goal of creating more highly qualified early childhood educational professionals, particularly those serving Native American Head Start programs nationwide.
• BMCC bolstered its institutional information technology infrastructure, providing laptops and SMART boards within every classroom, and making instructional tools available to all students.
• BMCC takes seriously its role to lead efforts to preserve the Ojibwe language, as evidenced by the popularity of its language immersion program for both speakers and future teachers.
• The Administration for Native America recently awarded BMCC a grant to hire language instructors to work with local children in Head Start and Early Head Start, and to teach the Anishnaabe language to more than 300 youth enrolled in local Boys & Girls Clubs.