Tohono O’odham Community College – A Chronology

Tohono O’odham Nation leaders and community members identified the need for a local college that could serve the needs of Nation members nearly half a century ago. In 1998, Chairman Edward Manuel established a taskforce to make the dream a reality. TOCC partnered with Pima Community College and offered classes starting in 2000, and achieved its own accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) in 2005. TOCC is among the youngest of the 36 tribal colleges


1998 - 2000

  • 1998 – TOCC was chartered by the Tohono O’odham Nation’s Legislative Council. A Board of Trustees was established.

  • 1999 – TOCC’s Board of Trustees appointed the first president, Richard Durán, Ph.D. TOCC’s vision, mission, and goals were codified. Benchmarks were identified, including the seating of a Native American president within two years, and attaining full accreditation within five years.


2000 - 2010

  • 2000 – Classes began under the auspices of Pima Community College, providing the needed accreditation until such time as the College could achieve its own accreditation.
  • 2001 – The Tohono O’odham Nation Career Center was housed under TOCC by tribal Council Resolution. That Center is now TOCC’s West Campus. Robert G. Martin, Ph.D., was appointed as the first Native American president.

  • 2002 – A second campus was opened in Sells, expanding classroom numbers through the acquisition of five modular buildings, leased the Baboquivari Unified School District.

  • 2003 – The Higher Learning Commission of the then “North Central Association,” approved initial candidacy for TOCC.

  • 2004 – TOCC was designated as a 1994 tribal land grant institution of higher education by the United States Department of Agriculture.

  • 2005 – TOCC achieved full accreditation, providing its own accredited coursework. A Tohono O’odham Nation member, Olivia Vanegas-Funcheon, MBA, was appointed President.  The Tohono O’odham Nation allocated $6 million for the first phase of the permanent campus construction.

  • 2006 – The proposed Pisinemo campus site, on the far west of the Nation, was blessed. TOCC’s Capital Campaign was launched.

  • 2007 – The Pisinemo lease, for establishment of a campus site, was signed.

  • 2008 – TOCC signed a lease with Schuk Toak District, providing 32 acres of land for the TOCC Main Campus, ten miles east of Sells.

  • 2009 – Preconstruction activities for the permanent campus in the Schuk Toak District were conducted including water testing, digging the well, laying cable as a result of implementation of the Campus Master Plan

2010 - Present

  • 2010 – President Olivia Vanegas-Funcheon left TOCC. Jane Latané, M.Ed., was appointed Interim President.

  • 2011 – James Vander Hooven, Ed.D. was appointed fourth TOCC President. The men’s basketball team established. TOCC was granted continued accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, with a Focused Visit on assessment of student learning, strategic planning, and new campus construction set for 2012.

  • 2012 – The Higher Learning Commission conducted a Focused Visit on assessment of student learning, strategic planning, and new campus construction and found that TOCC met areas of concern. The women’s basketball team was established. Dormitories and the first classroom building opened at the Main Campus.

  • 2013 – A 12,000 square foot, refabricated building, with original purpose of housing Building Construction Trades at the Main Campus, was repurposed to house Education and Student Services Divisions. Erection was completed and the move was made in time for fall semester 2013.

  • 2015 – President James Vander Hooven resigned. Mario Montes-Helu, Ph.D., the Academic Chair, was appointed Interim President.

  • 2016 – Paul Robertson, Ph.D., was appointed fifth TOCC President in January. A Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Team conducted a comprehensive visit in March 2016. TOCCʼs accreditation was affirmed in November, and the College was placed on the Standard Pathway.

  • 2016 – TOCC partnered with San Carlos Apache College (SCAC) in San Carlos, laying the groundwork for designating SCAC a site under TOCC’s auspices, with a start date of falls semester 2017.

  • 2016 – TOCC’s full-time equivalent enrollment reached a high of 314 students in fall semester 2016, up from 212 in fall semester 2015. Among the numerous reasons for the increase was a reduction in tuition of 50% to $34.25/credit hour, the lowest rate in the state of Arizona and second lowest among all tribal colleges.

  • 2017 – HLC approved TOCC’s request to recognize San Carlos Apache College as a TOCC site. Courses were offered to 58 students there in fall semester 2017. The intent is to support the site until SCAC can be accredited independently, with a target date sometime between 2019 and 2021.