Diné College, Navajo Technical University receive emergency funding from Nation

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Emergency legislation to provide more than $5.6 million in funding to Diné College and Navajo Technical University has been approved by Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren.

The legislation, sponsored by Navajo Nation Council Delegate Andy Nez, allocates $3.52 million to Diné College and $2.1 million to Navajo Technical University in the form of grants.

“Access to higher education is so important for our Navajo students and our communities. This funding will help Diné College and Navajo Tech continue their mission of educating our young people,” Nygren said. “I thank Delegate Nez and the Council for prioritizing the needs of our students.”

Nygren signed the legislation into law here on Nov.8 at the Navajo Nation Presidential Office.

Diné College President Charles Roessel said the funding comes at a critical time and will enable the college to maintain academic programs and student support services. He added the money would also go toward scholarships now that the deficit is corrected.

“Now we’re going to have more scholarships for students to attend school, it means that we’re going to be able to provide transportation; to be able to get to school, provide childcare, and build new buildings. This is a game changer,” Roessel said.

Navajo Technical University President Elmer Guy also expressed gratitude for the appropriation.

“The two institutions, we serve the most students of all the tribal colleges, we also both offer Ph.D. programs, several graduate programs as well as baccalaureate degrees. So, the help is very important because we don’t get state allocations like other institutions get help,” Guy said. “It sends a message to our leaders that you are investing in your own institutions; that education is a priority. It shows the leaders out there, the chapter officials, the parents.”

Nygren said planning for the funding took 10 months before it came to his desk to sign into law.

“Two of our prominent universities, higher institutions, are getting help today. This funding will expand your capacity,” he said. “That’s important because we’ve stressed the importance of higher education.”

Without the approved amounts, the two colleges said their planned facilities, maintenance, and learning space projects were at risk of being cancelled since their internal revenues had to be diverted to cover a gap in funding.

The emergency legislation passed the Navajo Nation Council by a vote of 16 in favor and only one Council delegate opposing the funding. Nygren said the support from leadership reflects the colleges’ role in developing the Navajo workforce and economy. The signed bill allows the funds to be immediately released to the institutions.

The funding need stems from a 2020 “continuing resolution” that partially funded the government, including its grant programs like Diné College and NTU. That introduced issues with future budgeting for the grants for the colleges that was corrected by the resolution signed by Nygren.

Information provided by the Office of the President and Vice President.

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