California Indians Seek to Establish a TCU

May 2nd, 2015 | By | Category: 26-4: Tribal College Governance, Tribal College News
By Patty Talahongva

At the AIHEC meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, Willie Carrillo Sr. addressed TCU presidents to explain efforts to reopen D-Q University.

There is currently an effort to bring back D-Q University (DQU) in Davis, California, after the institution stopped offering classes in 2005. Founded in 1971, DQU was the state’s only tribal college or university (TCU) and it was one of the first six tribal colleges in the country that founded the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC). DQU thrived for decades until it lost its accreditation 10 years ago. Still, the institution never quite closed its doors completely, even as weather and vandalism took a toll on the campus infrastructure. Today, a board of trustees is working to reopen the campus.

Willie J. Carrillo Sr., president of the California Indian Education Association and vice chair of DQU’s board, says they continue to oversee operations on the campus and maintain the university’s 501(c)(3) non-profit status. On August 11, 2012, the board signed a memorandum of agreement with the Inter-Tribal Council of California to strengthen its efforts to reopen DQU. On its website (www.d-qu. org) the board has posted an open letter to future students encouraging them to sign up for the university’s mailing list. Various trainings and meetings are held on campus to help maintain DQU’s compliance with the land deed that covers the 600-acre campus.

“The project is still in the pre-planning phase for a number of reasons. In the past five years the focus has been on board recruitment and infrastructure building,” says Carrillo. “Progress has been made by increasing the board of trustees from previously only four active members to now 10 of 14 members (there are four current vacancies) with professional backgrounds and a variety of skills. One hundred percent volunteers.”

Carrillo continues, “There are currently seven committees which include: site development, finance, personnel, executive, fundraising, bylaws, and curriculum. These committees currently function at different capacities based on the number of volunteers engaged within each committee and the committee chairperson’s availability to schedule regular meetings.”

Repairs to the facility have been prioritized based on safety, usability, and cost, he says. So far both dorms have been maintained, but the administration building is still in need of repair. Meanwhile, the curriculum committee has the highest number of volunteers, including nine American Indian doctoral-level educators from across the country who, according to Carrillo, “have been outlining degree programs, classes, and curriculum.” Carrillo adds that the committee is also crafting a survey to send out to California tribes “to assess the type of degree programs that are most needed and desired.”

On the economic front, Carrillo maintains that the finance committee is working with the U.S. Department of Education to submit financial audits for the final year the school was open and to show DQU is currently in good financial standing. He says a planning session was held last June and that a strategic plan is being developed and facilitated by Chris Peters from the Seventh Generation Fund.

Meanwhile, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation is leading another, separate effort to establish a tribal college. Marilyn Delgado serves as the director of California Tribal College (CTC) and states, “We are planning to start with a certificate program in 2015. At the same time, we are moving forward on our work to identify a site, continuing the second phase of a critical feasibility study, and completing a capital campaign study. Once these are complete, we will determine the type of campus we will need.”

The board hopes to have an actual campus with a broad range of facilities, classrooms, and faculty. “Our board of regents has decided that to best serve our future students we should have both a brick-and-mortar campus including dormitories and online classes for remote tribes. Some of our early research has indicated a central campus with smaller satellite facilities is also an effective option to consider.”

Delgado is well aware of the efforts to revive DQU. “CTC leaders have been in contact with the board at D-Q, which is a completely separate organization, but there is no ongoing working relationship at this time.” Meanwhile, Carrillo maintains, “We support the California Tribal College effort led by Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and have had a couple of informal discussions to explore ways that we may be able to work together in the future. We hope to continue these discussions because we’re all working towards the same goal and see the critical need for a strong and sustainable tribal college in California.”

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