Udall, Heinrich, Lujan Grisham Congratulate Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham congratulated the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) in Albuquerque on its recent progress and achievements, and extended their gratitude to SIPI president, Dr. Sherry Allison, the board of regents, and the faculty and staff for their dedication to student success. SIPI is federally operated by the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Education. 

This month, SIPI has cleared a major milestone and won recognition and important federal support: 

On March 12, Assistant Secretary of the Interior-Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn, announced that SIPI was awarded its "initial accreditation" status by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. After a rigorous review process, the HLC has certified that SIPI meets the commission's established educational standards and continues to improve. 

Allison was named the 2014 American Indian College Fund Tribal College Honoree of the Year by the American Indian College Fund, in recognition of her lasting positive impact on the tribal college community. Over the past five years, Allison has worked to address accreditation issues, renew enthusiasm for SIPI's mission and collectively improve the school. 

And this past week, SIPI was awarded two separate grants totaling over $923,000 to support undergraduate research, and to encourage students to engage in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education through simulated tele-exploration of Mars. 

-NASA's Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) selected SIPI to receive $783,000 under a program administered by NASA's Tribal College and University Experiential Learning Opportunity program. The funding will allow SIPI to engage the tribal community in the critical STEM disciplines by creating a year-round robotics-centered Information Technology (IT) immersion program to simulate remote exploration of Mars. The program will give students a better understanding of the applications of STEM disciplines by providing them with a stimulating experiential learning opportunity in operating remote robotics. SIPI will partner with five local high schools with predominantly Native American populations to expand and diversify the students exposed to IT and STEM fields, and to provide students with a pathway to pursue higher education. 

-And the Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program awarded SIPI $140,000 to support faculty training for undergraduate research experience. The program is administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and awards grant funding to projects based on a competitive review process.  

"Congratulations to SIPI, Dr. Allison and the board in making outstanding progress in a short time; this recognition is well-deserved," Udall said. "These important milestones and investments will help SIPI provide students with a stronger education that will give way to expanded transfer education and career opportunities, especially in the critical STEM fields. I'm proud to work alongside the SIPI community for the resources it needs to educate the next generation of New Mexicans for the careers of the future." 

“I congratulate Dr. Allison for her leadership and commend SIPI’s board and faculty for their unwavering commitment to providing their students the quality education they deserve," Heinrich said. "I’m also pleased with the new federal investments in SIPI to support undergraduate research and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs. As the only engineer in the Senate, I know how important it is to engage students in these fields to encourage innovation and better prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow. I will continue to work to ensure these important programs remain funded so that teachers and students have the resources, training, and support they need to succeed.” 

“Dr. Allison, the students, and the community at SIPI are passionate about their work, and it clearly shows in this investment and their recently received accredited status," Lujan Grisham said. "With this funding, students will gain further research opportunities that allow them to explore Mars and beyond. The work done at SIPI more than matches the demand for talent and innovation in the current STEM fields, and I look forward to seeing the Institute’s future accomplishments as a result of these new resources.”