By Louise Oleson
Journal Managing Editor
To look at the new Vice President of Academic Affairs at Cankdeska Cikana Community College you’d think he had been doing his job there for many years. Confident, relaxed and with his fingers on the pulse of the campus, Dr. Lane Azure has actually only been on the job for about a month.
But he’s not new to the college, higher education or this new role, in fact he believes he’s been headed on this path all along the way since his early days when the school was still called Little Hoop and was just one wing of the former Fort Totten Elementary School.
Azure sees his work at CCCC much like a principal’s at a high school. He oversees all the instructors and courses, makes sure that classes offered at CCCC are transferrable to other colleges and that students who are working for a two year degree at the school can obtain that degree in two years depending on how courses are offered.
“We are limited in personnel, so we have to make sure that our instructors don’t get overloaded. There’s only so much one person can do,” Azure said.
“We ask our instructors to limit their course work to 15 hours (about five classes) but because of the demand that number may have to be raised to 18 hours.”
His PhD work, obtained through NDSU, was based on education and institutional analysis. “It’s interesting how it all fell together,” he recalled.
“Recent developments in tribal government with my predecessor Dr. Leander “Russ” McDonald moving into the Tribal Council Chair seat, created the opening and I applied for it. I’m here; I know the school, the students, and the instructors. The new challenge feels comfortable, like I’ve been headed this direction my whole life,” Azure added.
The new VP of Academic Affairs at CCCC is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribe. He was born in Belcourt and raised in Devils Lake. Dr. Azure is the youngest of Laura and the late Martin “Chib” Azure’s seven children.
For a while the family moved to Washington State and lived on the Yakima Indian Reservation where Lane graduated from high school. His father worked for many years for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Lane followed in his father’s footsteps working for the BIA, as well, after graduation.
Back in North Dakota he attended Lake Region State College for two and a half years and UND for a year then went to Minot State University where he obtained his undergraduate degree in mathematics, then later a master’s degree.
Page 2 of 2 - After MSU he taught for a time on the Cheyenne River Reservation in north central South Dakota and transferred back to the Lake Region where he worked at Little Hoop Community College (prior to the name change) and Four Winds High School back in Fort Totten.
He’s been a truck driver, owned his own business for 11 years, is married and has five children of his own and the older he gets, he says, the more attuned to Native heritage and culture he gets.
“It is very important to me and it’s intensified as the years progress,” Azure said.
As part of his research for his dissertation he started asking questions about the relationship between success and culture, what are the variables that influence success both negatively and positively.
He found that those who had achieved success academically were more likely to become more interested in who they are and where they came from. In his research, Azure found that educational achievement wasn’t achieved without earned resilience, humble spirituality, honoring family, and language and culture.
It is Azure’s wish to see CCCC continue to expand; in fact, he’d like honor his supervisor’s wish, President Dr. Cynthia Lindquist, to increase enrollment to 400 students or more. “We are going to offer more evening and accelerated weekend classes. We want to encourage everyone in the region to consider attending CCCC, Natives and non-Natives alike…many of our students work, but want to earn their degree, we want to accommodate them” he said.
“CCCC is such a good school and we can do so much as an accredited tribal college; we are small and have the freedom to innovate,” Azure added.
“The future looks good and it is exciting to be a part of it.”