National company sees growth potential in Mary’s new engineering program and opportunities for its continued leadership in workforce development benefiting North Dakotans for generations to come

ETP’s Chris Curia holds up check donation before presenting to University of Mary President Monsignor Shea (background).

BISMARCK, ND—The Energy Transfer / Sunoco Foundation and Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), announced a $5 million commitment to the University of Mary’s Vision 2030campaign at a press conference held today on campus. Three of the $5 million dollars is a contribution towards the University of Mary’s new state-of-the-art engineering facility while $2 million will be given for workforce development in the state.

The $3 million portion will help fund University of Mary’s new 18,200-square-foot state-of-the-art engineering facility. Construction will start within six months, as requests for proposals (RFPs) have recently gone out. Currently, there are 60 freshmen and sophomores enrolled in the engineering program since it began two years ago, with another 40 to 50 incoming freshmen expected this fall.

With record enrollment, and attracting more that 50 percent of its student body from outside the state, the University of Mary intends to use the remaining $2 million – to be presented at a later time in concert with the announcement of a comprehensive plan – to help develop and equip North Dakota’s talent pool of skilled workers in engineering, computer programming, IT, and other areas of critical need. This effort is in line with University of Mary’s and ETP’s commitment to the state of North Dakota and leadership in workforce issues.

University of Mary President, Monsignor James Shea (far left) and Chris Curia, executive vice president of human resources, Energy Transfer Partners Equity, LP (Far right), hold up check with ETP and Mary representatives.

“We are so humbled and thankful to receive this gift, which accomplishes two things in harmony with one another,” said University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea. “Our engineering program will help solidify the industry need and will also help fulfill the intense need for workforce development. Our aim is to form engineers who are both at the top of their field in terms of their academic and technical preparation, but also who are culturally prepared for the workplace and ready to become employees of choice as well as fine citizens. It’s exciting because a few years ago the engineering industry asked for our help and support to be a hub in western North Dakota for talented, smart, innovative, liberal arts and values-based engineering students who can be integrated into the workforce from a new School of Engineering here on campus. This gift advances that noble cause.”

University of Mary Student Chris Riedman receives scholarship from ETP’s Chris Curia, Mary President Monsignor James Shea claps in background.

“This contribution is part of our commitment to be a valued business partner in North Dakota,” stated Kelcy Warren, chairman and CEO of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which was named as one of Forbes’ 2017 Best Large Employers. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to help more young men and women become engineers through Mary’s growing program. We are also happy to support Mary’s continued leadership in developing North Dakota’s workforce for generations to come.”

This donation brings University of Mary’s record-setting three-phased Vision 2030 Capital Campaign total to over $81 million—only $15 million shy of its Phase One goal of $96 million. When the campaign is completed in 12 years it will have raised a total of $272 million.

With over 200,000 square-feet of new space created on campus within the last two years, Vision 2030 is part of a continued effort and mission to better serve the needs of this region and beyond — begun in 1959 by the university’s founders, the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery.

Scott Davis, executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission and a Governor Burgum Cabinet member, spoke about engineering program’s benefit to the students.

About the University of Mary

True to its motto “lumen vitae”—the Light of Life—the University of Mary offers education for the whole of life through cutting-edge professional programs grounded in a solid liberal arts tradition.

A Christian, Catholic, Benedictine institution founded in 1959 by the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, Mary offers over 60 undergraduate degrees, 14 master’s degrees, and four doctoral programs in Occupational Therapy, Education, Nursing Practice and Physical Therapy. With over 3,000 students, Mary has locations in North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Arizona, Rome and Milan, Italy and Arequipa, Peru as well as vibrant online offerings. For more information, visit