Utah Valley Community College did not discriminate against women or American Indians when it discontinued its dental assisting and heavy-machine operator programs last year, the U.S. Department of Education has concluded.

Acting UVCC President Lucille Stoddard said she is not at all surprised by the conclusion, which follows a recent investigation by the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights in Denver. She said discrimination charges were unfounded.

"I don't think there was ever any question in my mind that we would be vindicated," she said. "There is no discriminatory practice regarding the heavy equipment and dental assisting programs as far as the Civil Rights Office is concerned."

The Civil Rights Office, in a letter dated April 8, concluded that "Utah Valley Community College is in compliance with Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title 9 of the Education Amendments of 1972 with respect to issues investigated. We are, therefore, closing this case effective the date of this letter."

The investigation resulted from complaints by instructors who lost their jobs when their programs were cut. Evidence they gave investigators included a memo from Stoddard saying the heavy equipment program was eliminated because it "attracts many Indian students from Arizona." Stoddard said such comments were taken out of context.

The Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges still is investigating charges that tenured professors were improperly laid off as a result of program cuts. Stoddard predicted the college also will be cleared following that investigation.

"I feel very strongly the cases are extremely weak. I feel we'll be vindicated," she said. Stoddard is a member of that organization's board.

The Northwest Association wrote the college last month complaining that it had not yet received information from it about the allegations despite two previous requests. It asked that the information be sent by the end of April.

Suits in federal and state court filed by the laid-off instructors are also pending.

The program cuts came after Gov. Norm Bangerter asked colleges to cut budgets by 6 percent. The budget cut wasn't actually instituted, but the programs were still cut, as institutions were ordered to make the best possible use of funds that the 6 percent represented.

"Based on witness testimony obtained during this investigation, analysis of factual data and statistical comparison of enrollment data, OCR concludes that UVCC has not discriminated against native American students on the basis of race/national origin by terminating the heavy machine operator program."

Nor did the college exclude female students from participating in vocational programs, as a whole.