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University of Mary to create outreach campus in Watford

Posted 3/11/14 (Tue)

By Stephanie Norman
Farmer Staff Writer

The University of Mary is in the beginning stages of setting up an Outreach Campus Program in Watford City, where it will offer extensive classes for bachelor degrees, graduate education, continuing education and workforce development classes.
Upon the Roughrider Committee’s approval of the contract, the university will receive $50,000 in grants from the Roughrider Fund to assist with rent and ramp-up costs for the initial opening.
University of Mary is a private, Catholic university based in Bismarck. They have extension campuses in five other states and two other countries. The university offers a plethora of online courses, which will be the base to the Watford City program.
According to Rachel Brash, a representative from the University of Mary, they are hoping to be located within the Dakota West Credit Union Building on Main Street.
“We are very excited to be here,” Brash said. “We hope to establish roots in Watford City and plan to stay for the long run. Our goal in Watford City is to incorporate business opportunities and promote Saint Mary.”
According to Jody Renbarger, a Roughrider Committee member, the $50,000 in grants will be dispersed over the course of two years.
“The Roughrider Committee felt the need to have a contract with the university if the funds would be dispersed over the course of time,” Renbarger said. “Having this university in Watford City will only make us stronger and we will grow as a community to have educated people here.”
Brash said they are hoping to begin offering management and human resource courses this summer.
Along with the grant for the University of Mary, the Watford City City Council also approved four other grants from the Roughrider Committee.
The McKenzie County Healthcare System was one of the organizations to receive a grant as well. They are working on plans for their new facility, which is to break ground this summer.
Previously, the Roughrider Committee approved a grant of $500,000 for the McKenzie County Healthcare System, which was originally to be paid upon ground-breaking. However, the $12.5 million loan through the Bank of North Dakota will not be processed until September 2014, which sets the healthcare system back on being able to begin building this spring.
“This puts a strain on the healthcare system’s occurring costs to get the building going,” Renbarger said. “The Roughrider Committee sees it best fit that the $500,000 grant is paid in full to the healthcare system in March 2014 because of the changes with the loan.”
The Watford City Municipal Airport is also experiencing an influx of people utilizing its services.
Tim Taylor, director of the airport, said they expect to re-construct the parking apron and begin building a new terminal this year. Total cost of these improvements is estimated at $3.5 million.
The Roughrider Committee allotted a $700,000 grant toward the airport construction.
“Our airport gets a lot of use and the use will only increase more over the next few years,” Renbarger said.
All airport grant money is to be dispersed upon the Roughrider Committee receiving receipts.
A $1,000 grant to the McKenzie County Heritage Association was also awarded for assisting with annual programs, cultural, historical and ethnic preservation, along with educational opportunities.
The Watford City Missoula Children’s Theatre will also receive a $500 grant from the Roughrider funds to assist with annual events and supplies.