Graduates of Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl (D-Q) University are establishing an alumni organization to regenerate the once operational university.
D-Q was a two-year, Native American college located west on Covell Boulevard toward Winters. Founded in 1971, it was accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) in 1977, but lost its accreditation in 2005.
Before a college can be considered for accreditation, it has to first be eligible. Community member Rita Montes-Martin is creating the alumni organization to rally D-Q and restore its eligibility for accreditation again.
“I am working to generate $3 million to refurbish D-Q,” said Montes-Martin, in an e-mail. “My education, employment and past community activities qualify me to take over D-Q and bring in qualified associates to bring about the fulfillment of the dream and vision held by the many original activists who claimed D-QU for the benefit of Chicanos and Indians.”
ACCJC President Barbara A. Beno said D-Q did not qualify for accreditation for numerous reasons, including not meeting standards.
“They did not have proper academic structure, they did not have sufficient funding, they did not have sufficient integrity in the financial aid area and they were losing students and down to very few students,” Beno said. “There were major areas.”
Montes-Martin explained the reasoning for the school’s closure.
“Currently the school has been closed for six years due to questionable and unlawful actions by the existing board of trustees,” Montes-Martin said. “We do not work with them; a court action requests they be removed and Rita Montes-Martin appointed by the court to represent the Chicano and Indian community and students to save and revive D-Q.”
According to Montes-Martin, the existing board will be held accountable for the books, equipment, furniture and damage to the grounds and buildings. She said when the school lost its accreditation, it also lost any source of government funding due to the questionable acts by the former board of trustees and the administration. These acts include the administration taking Pell Grant funds as well as the board not contributing any money to reviving D-Q.
Last April, three members of the board were voted out because of actions that negatively affected the school and its funds.
Currently, there is some progress in the attempt to reestablish D-Q.
“In recent months, representatives of the California Indian Education Association have been in contact with D-Q University, seeking to shore up the school as best as possible,” said the Affiliated Obsidian Nation spokesperson Steve Jerome-Wyatt, in an e-mail. “The school’s board of trustees itself has formed a Curriculum Committee [and] this course-of-action is guaranteed to bring the school back into a long and complicated struggle to become re-accredited once again.”
Jerome-Wyatt said a WASC representative stated the re-accreditation process could take at least five years. He said D-Q still has issues that were responsible for its decline but believes the university still has a chance to stand back on its feet.
Beno acknowledges D-Q’s attempts to regain accreditation.
“I think as they develop a new institution, looking at why one failed is not so helpful,” Beno said. “They ought to be looking at what would be required to get accreditation to build an institution that meets the standards.”
CLAIRE TAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.