SOLDOTNA, AK (March 2, 2017) – Alaska Christian College (ACC) reached a historical mark last month when it received full accreditation for the next 10 years from the Association for Biblical Higher Education.
“It continues to mean that ACC offers an education that meets all state and federal standards, and more important, the Christian worldview that ACC offers to our students in all areas of our life and faith,” said Keith Hamilton, who has served as the school’s president since it began in 2001.
Hamilton said the ABHE decision makes the school the largest accredited Bible college serving Natives in the United States. This past fall, the school achieved record enrollment with 81 students.
Moose are regular visitors at Alaska Christian CollegeThe school primarily serves students from Alaska’s bush villages. It has grown from a one-year, non-degree discipleship college to an accredited, two-year degree-granting Christian higher education institution. ACC offers associate’s degrees in para-professional education and Christian ministry. This fall it will add an associate’s degree in behavioral health.
ACC also provides ways for students to more easily make the transition to a four-year college. Credits are transferable to four-year institutions so that students can earn bachelor’s degrees. It is a critical need.
ACC students come from more than 70 Alaskan community. More than 500 have attended the school, Hamilton said.
Accreditation means the school can continue to receive Title IV Pell Grants and opportunity for federal loans. “The majority of our students require both forms of aid to assist them to meet their educational and spiritual goals,” Hamilton said.
The ABHE, which is an accrediting body for the U.S. Department of Education, officially awarded the school “provisional accreditation” status in 2012, which meant the school would be eligible for full accreditation this year.
The school has grown from one building on 10 acres to 15 buildings on 27 acres. This summer ACC will open a new 34-bed residence, which will bring its total available beds to more than 110, Hamilton said.
Fundraising for the new building, Taikuu Residence Hall, just surpassed $1 million. The project is now 80 percent funded, Hamilton said. Much of the funding has come from “selling” dorm rooms at $20,000 each. Three rooms are left to sell.
Taikuu means “thank you” in the Inupiaq language. The new residence hall will give students a more communal setting than the stand-alone duplexes and triplexes where some male students are currently housed, Hamilton said.
The school has been built in large part with volunteer labor that has come from across Canada and the United States. More than 400 workers from 23 churches already are scheduled to help this summer. Hamilton said he would love to have at least 100 more workers.
For the residence hall, all trades are needed, including electrical, plumbing, carpentry, sheetrock, tile work, and finish work, Hamilton said. Plumbers are an especially “huge need,” he added.
Along with the Taikuu Residence Hall, ACC has more than 100 other projects that need attention, Hamilton said. Those projects include remodeling, landscaping, yard work, painting, finish carpentry, and general upkeep.
Work such as clearing the ground and pouring footings already has begun, but construction will begin in earnest on May 1, Hamilton said. The school hopes to complete construction by October 1. “If the project is not fully completed, we will extend the work to the summer of 2018.”