Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Wed, Oct. 28

Student enrollment at Diné College far exceeds expectations

(Photo courtesy of Dine College)

(Photo courtesy of Dine College)

TSAILE, Ariz. — Diné College reported a fall 2020 student enrollment of more than 1,300.

The number of enrolled students represents a high amount, considering the coronavirus outbreak, college officials said.

“At first I thought we weren’t going to get high enrollment mainly due to limitations with Internet broadband and connectivity,” said Diné College Provost Geraldine Garrity, Ed.D. “But I think students found a way and prepared for the fall semester and it’s good news for the students and the college.”

The college reported that exactly 1,348 students were enrolled as of Aug. 24 — just 50 students short of the same time frame as last year. The fall 2019 enrollment was just above 1,400.

The high enrollment comes at a time when the college has been forced to transfer classes and registration online because of the virus.

“It’s an unusual and unfortunate situation that we are in with this pandemic,” said Diné College Director of Enrollment Priscilla Leonard. “But we’re getting good numbers in spite of everything. We were expecting about 1,000 students.”

One concern this year, was the lack of internet broadband in some communities.

“I thought we weren’t going to get many students because of the lack of Internet broadband in some communities, but we did,” Leonard said.

The college was also uncertain whether or not parents would want their child to stay home.

“They didn’t want them returning to the cities,” Leonard said.

According to Leonard, many returning students who previously graduated from Diné College with associate’s degrees, have chosen to enroll for a bachelor’s degree. Notably, there are a number of returning students from 2012 and 2015 who want to continue their academic path, she said.

Noticeable changes for Diné College

There are currently 26 students residing on campus. The general public is not allowed to come onto campus at this time and the Tsaile campus is closed, as a means of protection for students and employees.

Students will also notice a number of changes for the fall 2020 semester. Aside from safety measures in place and a reopening guide, each of the libraries at Diné College now has a specialized ultraviolet machine that disinfects books.

“Students who check out books will have them safely cleaned,” Garrity said. “We will also be providing curbside checkout service for books.”

Garrity said after Thanksgiving break 31 face-to-face classes will transition to online instruction. Additionally, members of the Diné College faculty are enrolling in an 11-week Quality Matters teaching program, where they can obtain online teaching certification.

Student internships will also resume.

“They will be doing virtual internships,” Garrity said.

Degree programs in nursing, microbiology and pre-med are also being talked about at the administrative level, along with a master’s degree program in interdisciplinary science and a fully online fine arts program.

New faculty at Diné College

While some faculty have retired, some new faculty will be joining the ranks.

Among new instructors at Diné College this year are Marilyn Begay, assistant professor with the School of Social Science and Business; Gabriela Cruz, instructor with the School of Arts, Humanities and English; Christopher Dickerson, instructor with the School of Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM); Rajneesh Verma, instructor with STEM; Suzanne Ross, an associate professor with the School of Social Science and Business; and Kevin Webster, instructor with STEM. Long-time professors Wilson Aronilth, Martha Austin Garrison, Margaret Meyer and Karen Willeto retired.

The college attributes the fall 2020 student enrollment to a number of factors, including a 50 percent reduction in tuition cost, a student loaner laptop program and more than 350 online courses offerings.

The marketing department is also attributing the enrollment surge to TV advertisements placed in the Phoenix and Albuquerque markets, plus some strategic print advertisements, and social media campaigns.

Diné College athletics

Diné College Athletic Director Shawn Frank said that the school’s cross-country team will field a squad of six male and female runners this year. There are three races set for the 2020 season, the first scheduled Sept. 20 against Fort Lewis College of Durango, Colorado. Francis Noble will enter his second year as Diné College’s head cross-country coach this year. The college is also participating in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.

Information provided by Dine College

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