NAU, San Carlos Apache College ink partnership aimed at furthering educational opportunities for Indigenous students

Martin Ahumada and José Luis Cruz Rivera shake hands while sitting at a table, while people in the background clap.

Northern Arizona University has entered into a formal partnership to offer additional higher education opportunities for Native American students and to enable scholarly collaboration through an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) signed with San Carlos Apache College on Monday, April 15.

The agreement will strengthen collaborative opportunities at all levels between the two institutions, including for academic programming, faculty collaboration, student success initiatives and transfer and graduate education pathways.

“NAU’s commitment to Indigenous Peoples is a guiding strategic principle behind our work,” NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera said. “Through this agreement, we will deepen our ability to collaborate with San Carlos Apache College and provide valuable experiences and impactful programs to the students we serve and the communities they represent.”

NAU has a similar agreement in place with Diné College, signed in 2016. In conjunction with the university’s attainment-focused efforts with statewide community colleges in the Arizona Attainment Alliance (A++), strong partnerships with tribal colleges contribute to NAU’s mission of powering economic mobility and social impact.

“This historic agreement between NAU and SCAC is a powerful vehicle for our two institutions to collaborate successfully, and in truly innovative and culturally respectful ways, in providing the best educational opportunities possible for the Native students and communities we serve,” SCAC President Martin Ahumada said. “I am looking forward to the continued pursuit and fulfillment of our agreement’s noble purpose and unlimited potential to help forge a bright future for our Native students. San Carlos Apache College is blessed to enter into this special partnership with NAU, with whom we have long shared a genuine commitment to serving Native Americans in distinctive and meaningful ways.”

The potential of this partnership is highlighted in experiences such as that of Marcus Macktima, an assistant professor in NAU’s Department of History. Macktima is among the few doctoral degree earners in the history of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and the first and only member of the Tribe to earn a Ph.D. in a history program. He is now teaching Apache and other Native history courses at both NAU and SCAC. Macktima credits SCAC President Ahumada with helping to propel his journey through higher education.

“This partnership opens up the possibility for the construction of new educational pathways between SCAC and NAU,” Macktima said. “As a faculty member at both institutions, I’ve witnessed the highest level of student engagement in academic studies at SCAC, and the possibility for that resiliency to be continued and fostered at NAU. I am hopeful that I might be able to assist in developing program tracks that bring students from SCAC to NAU and perhaps graduate them to become historians who wish to preserve our peoples’ history.”

NAU Communications