The generosity of the community was culminated recently when the Tom Dugan family and the Westmeath Foundation contributed $1.5 million to complete the funding for San Juan College’s School of Energy’s new building.
The $500,000 donation by the Dugan family and the $1 million by the Westmeath Foundation put the School of Energy (SOE) at the $15 million needed to begin construction of the new facility, which will be located on the main campus of San Juan College. Others who pledged support for the new facility include BP, with a donation of $5 million; Merrion Oil & Gas, with a donation of $1 million; New Mexico State funding in the amount of $5,083,200; San Juan College’s contribution of $2 million; $300,000 from ConocoPhillips; $150,000 from APS; and $50,000 from D.J. Simmons.
“We are extremely grateful to Governor Martinez, our New Mexico legislators and representatives, along with the energy companies who supported this capital campaign and investment in economic development,” said Dr. Toni Hopper Pendergrass, president of San Juan College.
The School of Energy’s existing building, located on Hutton Street near the south side of Farmington, has reached capacity and exceeded its ability to meet the growing needs of those seeking training from the School of Energy. The new building is expected to be approximately 50,000 square feet.
“With the help of our local community, the state – and especially the San Juan College Foundation, reaching this goal has been a tremendous effort,” said Randy Pacheco, Dean of the School of Energy. “It just goes to show the support we have from the community, the industry and the state for San Juan College. This (funding) is a tremendous success.”
“This additional space will provide us with opportunities to grow in a variety of ways,” Pacheco explained. “Not only will we have the capacity to serve more degree and certificate seeking students, we will have the ability to partner with other colleges and universities to further develop their programs with the potential of offering advanced degrees.”
The vision of the School of Energy is to become a national leader in oil and gas field technical education, Pacheco added. “We will provide training in all sectors of energy, including oil and gas, power generation, coal and renewable energy. Students will learn everything from how energy is produced to how it is refined and prepared for consumption. We will focus on training from a global perspective.”
The School of Energy will continue to provide training for field technicians through programs that create efficient and effective recovery of raw products, Pacheco said. With accredited Natural Gas Compression and Lease Operator Programs, students at the SOE are able to receive and Associate’s degree or certification. In addition to natural gas production, the School of Energy offers programs in commercial driving licensure (CDL), solar energy and occupational safety.
“Our local legislators worked closely together to ensure that the School of Energy received state funding,” Dr. Hopper Pendergrass said. “The local legislators who joined together to secure the more than $5 million in state funding were Representatives Tom Taylor, Paul Bandy, and James Strickler, along with Senators Bill Sharer and Steve Neville.”
“The School of Energy has been a great addition in the time that it has existed in its present form,” said Rep. Tom Taylor. “To have it morph into a nationally recognized program with the facilities to pull it off is just great.”
“There is a group of legislators who recognized the contribution of oil and gas in the state and there are many of them who are supportive of that,” Taylor added. “Certainly the School of Energy is respected by those folks as a wonderful opportunity for the state.”
If the college and legislators are excited about the ever-growing School of Energy and its new facility, leaders in the industry are equally excited and appreciative.
The School of Energy provides essential training and education for BP's current and future workforce.
“The program developed here is helping to create a safer and more efficient industry here in the Rockies and around the world,” said Julia Levy, BP director of Government and Public Affairs – Rockies Region. “Our donation reinforces BP’s ongoing commitment to invest in the communities in which we live and work. We are grateful to the state, College and other industry partners who have contributed to make the new School of Energy a reality.”
With the funding in place, plans for construction will begin.
“We’ll send out the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) and the Request for Proposals (RFP) this summer,” Pacheco said. “We’ll plan to break ground this fall.”
“We’re so grateful to all who have provided funding for this project,” Dr. Toni Hopper Pendergrass, adds. “Along with our donors, I can’t thank Randy Pacheco, the Dean of the School of Energy, and Gayle Dean, the executive director of the San Juan College Foundation, enough for their hard work and their dedication to the project.”
For Gayle Dean, San Juan College Foundation executive director, helping raise the money for the new facility isn’t just a job, it’s an honor.
“It’s a privilege for the San Juan College Foundation to be involved in a project where business, government and education partner for the benefit of all,” Dean said.