D-Q University was a two-year college intended to provide alternative ideas and methods of education to Native American people. It was located on Road 31 in Yolo County, 6.7 miles (10.8 km) west of California State Route 113. The school has closed, due to loss of accreditation, declining enrollment, and alleged financial mismanagement.
The full name of the school was Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl University. According to some tribal members, use of the spelled-out name of the university can be offensive. People who want to be culturally respectful refer to the institution as D-Q University. Tribal members in appropriate circumstances may use the full name.
Among the goals of D-Q University were the preservation and re-institutionalization of traditional Native American values, the perpetuation and exercise of Native American religion and beliefs, the establishment of a Native American Research Institute, the development of field-based educational delivery systems to Native Americans who cannot attend the school itself, and the maintenance of social and personal support systems for D-Q students and staff.
It was the only tribal university in California and faced severe financial and accreditation issues. Founded in 1971, it was the only indigenous-controlled institution of higher learning located outside a reservation. The school was one of the six original tribal colleges in the United States, all founded between 1968 and 1972. That group created the American Indian Higher Education Consortium in 1972 to address common challenges such as fundraising and attracting qualified faculty. Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Education recognizes 34 tribal colleges, most of which are two-year schools.
The site of D-Q was previously used as a United States Strategic Air Command Communication Center. After the federal government decommissioned the site, the organizers of the school applied to use it, based on a law which required surplus federal land to be returned to Native Americans. The application was initially denied, but after a series of protests, the University of California withdrew its application to use the site for its Native American Studies program and a primate lab, and D-Q University was conditionally granted the land in 1970.
The school opened in 1971, and obtained accreditation in 1977, but lost it in 2005, after which it closed. However, disputes among the board of trustees were settled in a lawsuit which resulted in the re-opening of D-Q University later that year. Declining enrollment and lack of funds led the board to dismiss the president in June 2006, and the remaining students have left.