On Wednesday, March 26, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signed an amendment to the Arizona Funding Compact that would provide $875,000 annually for the next eight years for a total of $7 million to Navajo Technical University’s (NTU) instructional sites in Chinle and Teec Nos Pos, Arizona.
The allocated funds will be used for maintenance, renewal, and capital expenses, and will be instrumental for the construction of a fully functional campus at NTU’s fastest growing site in Chinle.
“It is NTU’s mission to provide the opportunity for all Navajo students to obtain a quality higher education closer to home,” stated NTU president Dr. Elmer J. Guy. “In receiving the additional funds through the Arizona Funding Compact, we will be able to provide the necessary resources for students in Chinle.”
NTU’s Chinle instructional site, which opened in 2006, has seen rapid growth over the past five years and currently services more than 600 students while operating out of four trailers provided by Workforce Development and classrooms at Chinle High School. Around 120 classes are offered during the week and a weekend college program is offered for working adults.
“The community and the surrounding towns have a great need for education,” stated Chinle site director Arlena Benallie. “Having a university locally will not only benefit us educationally but economically as well.”
“(The site) has changed a lot of lives,” continued Benallie, who noted that when the Chinle site first opened its doors in 2006 it only offered five courses to thirty students in a 936 square foot building. “A lot of our students struggle at home and can’t move off the reservation so it really gives them a second chance. It’s really exciting and something to look forward to.”
The amendment to the Arizona Compact was presented under Arizona House Bill 2009, which allocated $875,000 to NTU in addition to the $1.75 million that Diné College currently receives through Transaction Privilege Tax revenues collected on the Navajo Nation. In attendance for the amendment signing included Navajo Nation Speaker Johnny Naize, Council Delegate Dwight Witherspoon, NTU President Dr. Elmer J. Guy, Diné College President Dr. Maggie George, and NTU Board Member Harry Claw (Chinle Agency).
NTU expects to break ground for a new campus in Chinle just southeast of the Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility by early summer.