Diné College Names New Archive Building After Founders of College
News & Events
May 9, 2013
Tsaile - After much planning, partnerships and construction, the Diné College community officially named the new home of the College’s archives on May 9, 2013. The building is named the “Ruth and Bob Roessel Archival Center” in honor of the first president of Navajo Community College and his wife, who began the tribal College movement. The celebration began with a traditional Navajo blessing of the two new buildings, the Archival Center and the Student Success Center.
Nonabah Sam, Museum Curator, welcomed everyone in attendance and acknowledged the Roessel family for their presence at the event. In attendance at the event were three of the Roessel children, Faith, Mary and Bob. Faith Roessel spoke on behalf of her family reminiscing on her parent’s qualities.
“Their 50 year partnership and marriage was unique, they were dreamers not afraid to voice their aspirations to each other and to others of what might be possible. They were creators and shared their ideas while at the same time trying to figure out how to make these ideas a reality. They were teachers helping Navajos and non-Navajos learn about the needs and problems they saw. They were stubborn and tenacious, never accepting ‘no’ as a final answer.” said Faith Roessel.
The Roessel’s children also expressed their appreciation to the College for honoring their parents. “We are pleased that the names of Ruth and Bob Roessel will have a permanent presence on the campus they helped found and whose success meant so much to them.”
Nonabah Sam, Diné College Museum Curator will oversee the Archive Building and is excited about having the building named after the iconic figures. “The Roessels played a very important role in the development of our institution and it is through their vision we have educated many of our people,” said Sam. “We are honored to have their names placed on the archive building.” The Roessels spearheaded the idea of bringing forth an educational institution where Navajo people can maintain their culture while gaining an education.
Diné College President, Maggie L. George spoke about what the archive center will mean to the College and the community. “The decision to construct this building reflects a firm commitment to improve our campuses and enhances student success.” said President George. “ The archive center symbolizes our efforts to preserve our heritage, knowing we remain true to the ideals of the College’s founders.” The Roessels were passionate about educating Navajo students while maintaining their culture and heritage. Before the establishment of Navajo Community College, they brought to fruition the Rough Rock Demonstration School-now Rough Rock Community School- in 1966.
Ruth Roessel dedicated most of her life as an educator she was responsible for introducing the Navajo Studies program to the College. She has also authored several books during her lifetime published by the Diné College Press that includes: Navajo Livestock Reduction: a National Disgrace, Navajo Stories of the Long Walk, and Navajo Studies at Navajo Community College.
Robert Roessel was the first president of Navajo Community College and also wrote the books: Pictorial History of the Navajo from 1860 to 1910, Navajo Education: Its Problems and Progress, and Indian Communities in Action.
Ruth and Bob Roessel were both responsible for advocating for the Navajo Community College Act of 1971, which continues to fund the college to this day.
Funded by the Federal Title III Construction Grant that was awarded in July 2008, the project cost an estimated $3 million. The construction for the building began in the winter of 2011 and completed in the summer of 2012.
The archive center is among the newly constructed buildings at the Tsaile Campus, a grand opening celebration was held on February 15, 2013 welcoming students and community members.
The Ruth and Bob Roessel Archive Center is located on the historic core of the campus, next to the new Student Success Building, southwest of the Ned Hatathli Center. The campus was designed originally to symbolically represent a traditional Navajo Hogan.