Speakers Praise Diné College for its Vision and Hard Work at $7.4 Million Shiprock Groundbreaking Ceremony
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2021
SHIPROCK, NM — It started at sunrise with a traditional blessing ceremony, then Navajo leaders praised the college leadership, and ended with the official groundbreaking ceremony of the new $7.4 million Math and Science Building that will be located at the Shiprock south campus.
“The most important thank you goes to the citizens of the State of New Mexico because they are the ones that voted for this $5 million bond,” said Diné College President Charles “Monty” Roessel to an estimated 70 in attendance. “They are the ones who said this is important…This building is about $7.5 million dollars… $2.5 million came from the creativity, ingenuity, and commitment of the Board of Regents. When something is that important, we find a way.”
To ensure the health and safety of attendees and special guests, the event was closed to the public.
In the past several years, the College has made huge leaps in creating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs, degrees, and certificates. This fall, the first cohort of students will begin a program to become the next generation of water scientists and the College will be the first tribal college to offer a biomedical bachelor’s degree. The College also offers STEM internships. And this past spring, the College began offering a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and in fall 2020, the College began offering Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) certificates. Then in fall 2019, the College partnered with the University of Arizona to establish The UBRAIN program which will create the next generation of Navajo brain scientists.
“Diné College’s Public Health program and the Navajo Research Center for Health Partnership are anchored at the Shiprock Campus. The Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree was first offered in 2018,” said Dr. Mark Bauer of Diné College.
James Tutt, Dean of the School of STEM said each school year, 43 percent of overall graduates are from the School of STEM. “Current Census data shows that the primary focus of jobs on the Navajo Nation are in the field of STEM,” said Dean Tutt.
“Our vision is to create the next generation of competitive students who are grounded in not only science, technology, engineering and math, but also their culture and language. It’s the dream of our people. We want to cultivate innovation and address inequities to keep up with modern technology and advance our nation to provide a better quality of life for our people. We want to lead the way,” said Board of Regents President Greg Bigman.
“On behalf of the Navajo people, I congratulate the Diné College Board of Regents, Diné College President Dr. Roessel, and the students who will benefit greatly from the new math and science center and in turn, this investment in our students will benefit our Nation for many years,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. “This new facility will serve to develop and advance the minds of our young Navajo people who are striving for careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. Expertise in the STEM fields is a very critical part of building our Nation and improving the quality of life for our Navajo people. I commend Diné College for empowering our students and for growing our own here on the Navajo Nation.”
The 17,116 square foot state-of-the-art math and science building will include math and science departments, instructional classrooms, laboratories, student common, offices, meeting rooms, and other facilities. The new facility is funded through General Obligation Bonds approved by New Mexico voters in 2018 and Capital Outlay funds from the state. Construction will begin July 2021 and is expected to be completed by March 2022. Planning for the building started in 2014.
Daniel Tso thanked the Board of Regents for seeking out General Obligation Bonds through the New Mexico legislation, which are non-vetoable. “The voters of New Mexico put education first and it was demonstrated. We are so thankful for the citizens of New Mexico. We are doing this so our children can have pride and say they have a place where they want to learn,” said Diné College Board Member Daniel Tso.
New Mexico State Senator Shannon Pinto, State Representative Anthony Allison, and Council Delegates Eugenia Charles Newton, Paul Begay, Pernell Halona, and Edison Wauneka were in attendance and offered their support for Diné College. Former Board of Regents President Fannie Atcitty, Navajo Nation Department of Diné Education Interim Superintendent of Schools Patricia Gonnie, Arviso Construction Company, and local chapter officials were in attendance and all were thanked for their contribution.
Diné College is a four-year tribal college — primarily serving Navajo students — located on the Navajo reservation with six campuses, and two microsites. The school offers 17 bachelor’s degrees, 20 associate’s, and 9 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.