University of Mary Opens Satellite Campus in Watford City

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The slowdown in oil production has created a lot of down time for some people across the Bakken. And educational institutions are taking advantages of the slowdown.

Education opens many doors in life. For those in and around the Bakken, the University of Mary wants to help open a few more.

"There is a lot of activity going on in Watford City and it is important for the university that we be where education is needed rather than expecting people to come to us or to be able to do online offerings," said Rachel Brash, University of Mary director of graduate admmissions.

The University of Mary has set up a satellite campus in Watford City. The college plans to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as other programs. It's already offering undergraduate business classes at Watford City High School.

"We were meeting with private sectors and public sectors to ensure that we understood what was going on there and provide education that would want," Brash said.

While the location University of Mary is using today is temporary, they do have a permanent location at the Watford City Event Center. But that location is still under construction. This center is expected to open next September, and the University of Mary will move in January 2017.

"We are excited about University of Mary's commitment to Watford City," said Gene Veeder, McKenzie County Economic Development director.

Veeder is pleased with the addition of an educational institution, as it brings more options to the community.

"Say five years down the line, what I would expect is number of people that are pursuing degrees in business and sciences and getting master degrees in business or master's in education. They can do it without having to leave the community and they can do it in the premise of their own work environment," Veeder said.

The university looks to expand and offer master of education classes and some healthcare courses in the near future.

"What makes us unique as an institution is that we go to where people are rather than expecting them to come to us. This isn't new model for the University of Mary and we expect to have a very strong presence in Watford City for many years to come," Brash said.

This is another chapter in the ever-growing and evolving Bakken region.

The university offers one five-week long course at a time so students can focus on the one class before moving on to other courses.