News Release – Former Diné College President Thomas Atcitty Passes Away


October 14, 2020

Former Diné College President Thomas Atcitty Passes Away

TSAILE, Ariz. — Thomas Atcitty, the third president of Navajo Community College (NCC), passed away Oct. 11 of natural causes. Atcitty, who was from Shiprock, New Mexico, was 86.

Atcitty was president of NCC — renamed Diné College in 1997 — from 1972 to 1977. He served as vice president of the Navajo Nation from 1995 to 1998 and was president (Navajo Nation) after Albert Hale resigned the post over credit card abuse.

Atcitty was a Navajo Nation council delegate and served the N.M. House of Representatives from 1980 to 1994. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“He was a very smart and a very good friend,” James Tutt, Dean of the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Diné College, said. “He was an educator who definitely left a legacy at the college.”

Tutt, a career educator and former president of the Crownpoint Institute of Technology, now called Navajo Technical University, said Atcitty was instrumental in the formation of Diné College’s Shiprock campus. He said Atcitty was an early founder of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium — commonly known as AIHEC. The organization comprises tribal colleges and universities across the U.S.

Tutt, M.Ed., was a faculty member, the assistant campus director and later the outright campus director at the college’s Shiprock site.

Diné College Dean of Diné Studies and Education Lawrence Isaac, Jr., Ph.D., and also a former U.S. Marine, graduated from NCC and was the school’s first student body president in 1968. Isaac, Jr., also worked under Atcitty as vice president of student affairs from 1977 to 1978.

“Yes, I knew Thomas Atcitty, former president of Diné College (when it was NCC),” Isaac, Jr., said. “He was president during the college’s formative years during the late 1970’s and involved with the early studies for institutional accreditation. He was a proponent of Diné Philosophy of Education. He assisted the college in advocating with the Navajo Nation government.

It is unfortunate that he is gone. He will be well-remembered by Diné College.”

George Joe, M.A., M.Ed., Diné College Director of Marketing, who served as Atcitty’s spokesman, said, “Atcitty was a very good man who was well-liked by everyone on all sides.”



Marie R. Etsitty Nez 
Vice President of External Affairs

George Joe, M.A., M.Ed, Director Of Marketing and Communications

Bernie DotsonPublic Relations Officer

Scott TomGraphic Design and Digital Media Specialist

Jazzmine D. MartinezMarketing Assistant

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