DAVIS, Calif.—The state’s only college run for and by Native Americans has been forced to close after it lost its accreditation and $1 million in federal funding less than a month into this spring’s semester.
Officials at D-Q University shut down the community college, laid off more than two dozen faculty members and staff and sent 200 students home. And while a defiant group of students refused to leave, the beleaguered board of trustees split into two rival factions—with one firing the school’s president.
According to the commission, D-Q’s staff lacked sufficient experience, its board of trustees was too small and lacked training, and the school failed to use “established college processes” for selection of courses and programs.
The commission also expressed deep concerns about D-Q’s financial condition, including its handling of student financial aid packages and an “impending financial collapse.”
D-Q University was founded by a group of Native Americans and Chicano activists who in 1970 occupied a former Army communications center for months until the government agreed to allow the 643-acre site to be turned into a tribal college.
The “D” in the school’s name stands for Deganawidah, the “Great Peacemaker” who helped found the Iroquois Confederacy. According to school literature, the “Q” represents Quetzalcoatl, “an Aztec prophet who symbolizes the principles of wisdom and self-discipline.”
The nonprofit, private, land-grant institution opened in 1971 and first received accreditation in 1977. Some called the school “Terrorist Tech” because of its origins, but it soon became a source of pride to Native Americans—a departure from an earlier era when their education consisted of boarding schools whose mission was to Americanize children.
D-Q University’s mission was to educate students from a Native American perspective, blending “the spiritual and cultural truths of the past, the realities of the present and preparation for the future.”
Like other community colleges, D-Q offers associate degrees, but in addition to the standard general education classes, students can study subjects such as “ethno-botany,” “introduction to casino operations and management,” mural painting and Native American literature.