Four presidents discuss higher education needs of Navajo students

Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., presented a Navajo Nation flag to Coconino Community College President Leah L. Bornstein at Saturday’s Presidents’ Summit in Page (Photo by Frank Talbott).

Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., presented a Navajo Nation flag to Coconino Community College President Leah L. Bornstein at Saturday’s Presidents’ Summit in Page (Photo by Frank Talbott).

PAGE - Calling education the number one priority of the Shirley administration, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. met with three presidents of northern Arizona institutions of higher education on Saturday, Feb. 16.

At what may be the first Presidents' Summit of its kind, President Shirley met with Coconino Community College President Leah L. Bornstein, Northern Arizona University President John Haeger and Diné College President Ferlin Clark at the CCC Page/Lake Powell Campus.

"We need to build resources of people working together," President Shirley said. "I talk to my young people and tell them that one man cannot do it alone. The input of the top education community - this is good for all people - we are all family all in the same situation. It is better to work side by side to educate our people as Coconino Community College, Diné College and Northern Arizona University on behalf of the Native students wherever they are learning."

The four presidents discussed current initiatives for Navajo learners, the potential for new initiatives and how the Navajo Nation and higher education leaders can work together in the future.

"The focus was on commonalities and strength of our programs," said Clark. "This reinforced the continued discussions and partnerships that we have. We talked about the long-term potential of our partnerships and what we need to do to build a stronger Arizona and Navajo Nation."

"The Presidents' Summit was a fabulous opportunity for us to come together to determine how best we're serving indigenous student populations," said Bornstein.

Haeger said educating Native American students is embedded in NAU's culture and included in its strategic plan. "I'm honored to be a part of this important discussion that may help guide us in our programs and services for Navajo students and with our plans for a Native American Center."

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