Female student holding books on path going to class

Nicolet College’s Tribal Business Management Certificate To Go Online Thanks To Education Grant


Nicolet College will advance its efforts delivering online instruction to students of color thanks to a $30,000 grant the college recently received from the Urban Institute’s Career and Technical Education CoLab. 

The college will use the funds to develop the academic infrastructure needed to offer its Tribal Business Management Certificate in a flexible online format, said Laura Wind-Norton, dean of the University Transfer Liberal Arts program at Nicolet. 

“The end goal is to deliver this instruction to more people in the three indigenous communities in the Nicolet District and beyond,” Wind-Norton said. 

“Increasingly we are seeing that flexibility is key for individuals to earn a college education. People have lives, they have families, they have jobs. College needs to fit around all of that. And creating a structure where students can complete their coursework at times that are best for them, wherever they are, really is key for individuals to succeed in college.” 

For more than a decade Nicolet has offered the Tribal Business Management Certificate in the traditional classroom setting in the three tribal communities in the Nicolet District. 

“We’ve worked to develop strong partnerships with all of our tribal communities,” Wind-Norton said. “Having that solid foundation in place will be instrumental and very helpful as we move forward with this project to make college accessible to more people.” 

The conversion to the online option is expected to go smoothly as the college has significant experience transitioning traditional instruction into the flexible online format. The college has been delivering online instruction for more than a dozen years and has continually expanded online academic offerings during that time. 

The pandemic accelerated this transition, with the move proving popular with students. During the past year Nicolet experienced a 2.1 percent enrollment increase and was the only state technical college in Wisconsin with an increase. 

Along with developing the nuts and bolts to deliver flexible online instruction, the college will also use some of the grant funding to expand the student services that have proven to be key to student academic success. 

“Because students are not socially together in a classroom with their instructor, we need to recreate that environment so students still feel connected and get all of the support they need,” Wind-Norton explained. 

Services will include robust tutoring, ample academic advising and counseling, and financial assistance as applicable. 

Currently, nearly 12 percent of Nicolet students are racial and ethnic minorities. This is compared to about 5 percent for the general population of the Nicolet College District. 

While the effort seeks to advance college education among individuals of color, Wind-Norton also noted that the online Tribal Business Management Certificate is open to everyone and interested individuals do not need to be a member of a tribal community to enroll in the certificate program. 

The expected start date for online classes will be announced in 2022. 

Nicolet was one of 12 colleges across the country to receive a CTE CoLab grant and participate in the College Community of Practice initiative.