Capitol Mourns the Loss of Trustee Emeritus, John Dettra

It is with great sorrow that Capitol Technology University must announce the passing of Trustee Emeritus and longtime friend of the university, John Dettra. 

Mr. Dettra’s journey with Capitol began in 1956, when he earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Engineering Technology, followed by a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering Technology in 1968. His studies at Capitol eventually led him to found his own electronics company, Dettra Communications, in 1975 which specialized in Common Carrier Land-Mobile and Microwave Services. He also served as a qualified expert in radio engineering to testify before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) during his career. 

In 1983, John Dettra joined the Capitol Tech Board of Trustees, where he served for 36 years before retiring and earning Emeritus status in 2019 under former Chairman Haden Land. Mr. Dettra’s time on the Board was marked by unwavering stewardship and enthusiastic service to the university. 


John Dettra Trustee Emeritus award
John Dettra receiving his Emeritus award with former BOT Chairman, Haden Land


Land, when speaking of Dettra’s long list of accomplishments, stated, “Your outstanding contributions to Capitol Technology University started with your student days here, graduating with an associate’s in engineering technology from the Capitol Radio Engineering Institute to your matriculation with a bachelor’s in 1968 from the former Capitol Institute of Technology. Also, in 1983, joining the Board of Trustees until present day, serving as chair of various committees, and speaker at many events.” 

Land added, “The list goes on! You were instrumental in assisting with the incorporation of the institution in the District of Columbia, and are the benefactor of many generous contributions to Capitol along with your late wife, Mary.” 

Mr. Dettra is preceded in death by his wife, Mary, with whom he generously supported Capitol through the establishment of a scholarship in 1984. The John and Mary Dettra Radio Club of America Scholarship Fund has provided a yearly gift to the university to assist students with financing their education. 

 “This fund has resulted in an annual gift to Capitol since 1984 and has supported 35 students in the pursuit of their degree. Scholarships ensure that undergraduate students of merit have the support they need to successfully complete their degrees,” explained Melinda Bunnell-Rhyne, Vice President for Student Engagement and University Development. 

Additionally, the couple’s legacy lives on at Capitol through several campus locations that share their namesake, the most notable being the John and Mary Dettra Amphitheater, located next to the library. 

In 2017, former Capitol president Dr. Michael T. Wood presented Mr. Dettra with the President’s Medal in recognition of his many decades of service to the university. 

Mr. Dettra’s final gift to Capitol Tech came in the form of a baby grand piano that he once enjoyed playing in his own home. He offered this gift in order to share his love of music with the Capitol community, and the piano now resides in the Puente Library for students to play at their leisure.