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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published April 11 2012

Higher ed board considers extra $5M for Oil Patch

WILLISTON, N.D. – Higher education leaders will get a firsthand look today at the challenges facing colleges in the Oil Patch.

During a meeting at Williston State College, the state Board of Higher Education will consider whether to ask the Legislature for $5 million to target western North Dakota campuses.

The money would address housing shortages, faculty turnover, campus security, academic programs and other needs of campuses affected by oil development.

Board President Grant Shaft said the energy impact dollars proposed are geared for Williston State, Dickinson State University, Minot State University and Bismarck State College.

“Historically, a lot of higher education has focused on the eastern part of the state because that’s where the big research institutions are,” Shaft said. “We need to really aggressively look at how higher education can help in the Oil Patch.”

If board members approve the proposal, it would be forwarded to legislators as part of the North Dakota University System’s 2013-15 budget request.

Chancellor Bill Goetz said if the dollars are approved, the campuses would apply each quarter for funding. Some requests may be related to salaries or housing allowances for employees or security improvements for campuses, he said.

“If we’re going to continue with quality education at those campuses, these kinds of impacts need to be recognized and dealt with,” Goetz said.

Board members, who will be touring the Williston community today, also will consider other items affecting campuses in the Oil Patch:

Forum reporter Marino Eccher contributed to this report.

Dalrymple is a Forum Communications Co. reporter stationed in the Oil Patch. She can be reached at adalrymple@forumcomm.com or (701) 580-6890.

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