News Release – Diné College Graduates 82 and Bestows 4 Honorary Doctorates

LR: Avery Denny, Harry Walters, Johnson Dennison, Don Denetdeal
LR: Avery Denny, Harry Walters, Johnson Dennison, Don Denetdeal

Diné College Graduates 82 and Bestows 4 Honorary Doctorates


December 13, 2021

TSAILE, Ariz. — Diné College celebrated its Fall Commencement on Friday, Dec. 10 by awarding 82 degrees and certificates and 4 honorary doctorates. Taking place in the Piñon Pit Gymnasium and with the season’s first snow storm blanketing the earth and trees, this marks only the second Fall Commence in the college’s history.

“We are proud of our graduates and congratulate them and their family for this amazing accomplishment. From future teachers to future entrepreneurs to future healthcare workers, all of our graduates are committed to continuing to build the Navajo Nation,” said Diné College president Dr. Charles Roessel.

The College also awarded four Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters, the first time in more than 20 years, to four individuals who helped crystallize the concept of Navajo philosophy within academia. “These four, Johnson Dennison, Harry Walters, Don Denetdeal, and Avery Denny were pioneers in the advancement of Diné College,” said Roessel. “As part of Diné College’s own creation story, these historians, philosophers, and medicine men did something that had never been done before, they professionalized our Diné philosophy within a college curriculum.”

Johnson Dennison, a former dean at the college, principal, and Diné College Board of Regents member, spoke in the morning graduation as the commencement speaker and urged the graduates to always remember who you are.” My mother gave me advice when I went off to boarding school. She said, ’I don’t know where you are going but always remember where you are from and who you are and what made you special,’” said Dennison. “I’ve used this wisdom my whole life and now I share with you.”

The commencement was split into two ceremonies; one in the morning for the School of STEM and School of Arts, Humanities, and English and one in the afternoon for the School of Diné Studies and Education and the School of Business and Social Sciences. This was done in order to provide a safe environment for those who attended.

The afternoon commencement speaker was the current Arizona superintendent of the year from Chinle Unified School district, Quincy Natay. He reminded the audience that Navajo history was filled with stories of resilience and the lessons of the Long Walk should not be ignored today. He urged the graduates to fight for what they believe,” don’t wait for someone to make a difference for you, you can make that difference yourself,” said Natay.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez gave congratulatory remarks to the afternoon graduates and reminded them of the teachings of their elders and to use those for the future.” You exemplify strength and resilience of our ancestors. In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, you rose to the challenge and achieved this great milestone, said President Nez.

Classes for Spring 2022 begin Jan.10 with a 50% tuition grant for all registered students. Diné College is a four-year tribal college located on the Navajo reservation with six campuses and two microsites across Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah and primarily serves Navajo students. The school offers 20 bachelor degrees, 16 associate degrees, and 6 certificate programs. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The College, established in 1968, is the first tribal college and was formerly named Navajo Community College.


Jazzmine D. Martinez, Interim Marketing & Communications Officer

Dillon Nopah, Videographer

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