UND Proposes Expanded Oil Degree In Williston

University of North Dakota President Robert Kelley’s state of the university address included some news for Williston. In case you missed it, this is the story from my Grand Forks Herald colleague Jennifer Johnson:


GRAND FORKS, N.D. – A branch of UND’s petroleum engineering program may go west as part of an effort to expand the university’s presence across North Dakota.

President Robert Kelley said during his annual State of the University address Tuesday that the College of Engineering and Mines is proposing to offer a bachelor’s degree in the west with help from Williston State College.

He said he expects to seek funding for the program from the Legislature. “I hope you stay tuned as we develop more and more pieces of that.”

Kelley also acknowledged the College’s new geology school, made possible by a $10 million gift from oil billionaire Harold Hamm earlier this year. His support will help cover new equipment, faculty pay, student scholarships and a virtual library at the school.

Several faculty members gathered inside the sleek Gorecki Alumni Center, first unveiled earlier this month, to hear Kelley talk about the university’s innovation, new programs and the upcoming legislative session.

Budget changes

Performance expectations for UND and other institutions may change, he warned. A percentage of the university’s state funding could be based on the number of graduates, how long it takes them to complete their degrees and how many state goals they achieve, he said.

“I urge you to pay attention to the conversations during the legislative session, and I urge you to pay very close attention to the governor’s address and his recommendations,” he said.

“You will hear more about these funding models going forward.”

Looming federal budget cuts could also affect UND’s state funding, which makes up 25 percent of the university’s total budget.

“The reality is, we have about five weeks of congressional action before we hit a fiscal cliff,” Kelley said. “We have to anticipate a certain reduction in that revenue.”

During the 2013 legislative session, UND will be asking for $18.25 million to fund operations and certain “priority” programs such as aerospace engineering.

Thanks offered

Kelley also praised other university achievements, such as the introduction of a first-year experience program and the opening of UND’s Collections Gallery at the Empire Arts Center in downtown Grand Forks.

Most of all, he said, he gave thanks to faculty, staff and students.

“UND is a very vibrant, diverse, complex university that derives its vitality from its staff and students,” he said. “It’s a contemporary, large research university with the heart and soul of a liberal arts college.”