D-Q University Loses Accreditation, Funding

May 15th, 2005 | By | Category: 16-4: International Indigenous Education, Tribal College News

At its mid-January 2005 meeting, the accreditation agency for schools and colleges in Western states terminated the accreditation of D-Q University, California’s only tribal college.

In its report, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) cited problems ranging from unqualified top administrators, unsound curriculum development practices, shaky financial accountability standards and planning, and a high board of trustee turnover rate.

The action was not unexpected since WASC’s Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) warned the college at its June 2004 meeting that it must “show cause” why its accreditation should not be removed. “This action was the result of the failure of D-Q University to adequately respond to the six issues identified by the commission and detailed in the commission’s action letter,” according to the notice written by ACCJC Executive Director Barbara A. Beno.

While finding a solution to these problems seems daunting, hope – and controversy — over the school’s future still abound. The school has not exhausted all of its bureaucratic remedies and has appealed to the agency to secure its status as a junior college.

According to acting president and former board member Victor Gabriel (Washoe), administrators at the school are responding to the charges in the report and appointing new board members. At press time in March, they had begun to close down the school. The board and the president had filed the appeal.

In addition to the loss of accreditation, the 2-year school lost critical funding last year from the U.S. Department of Education and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), which cited low numbers of enrolled Indian students. The college was created in 1971 to serve both Indian and Latino students. According to requirements under the Tribally Controlled College or University Assistance Act, a college must have more than 50% Indian students to quality for BIA funding under the law.

D-Q was one of the six tribal colleges that created the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) in 1973. In the 32-year history of the organization, only one member college permanently closed its doors, Inupiat University of the Arctic in 1980.

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