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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) â¿¿ The University of North Dakota said Monday it plans to establish a new geology school with help from $10 million in contributions from a major oil company and its chairman, one of the nation's wealthiest men.
The initiative will include $5 million contributions from Continental Resources Inc., based in Oklahoma City, and Harold Hamm, the company's chairman, chief executive officer and majority shareholder. Hamm's donation is the largest gift to UND by a non-alumnus, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said.
"I can't really grasp the amount of money and the philanthropy shown by Mr. Hamm and Continental," said UND geology student Cody Hoskins, who grew up in Williston, in the heart of oil country. "I think it will entice a lot of people to stay in the state rather than go elsewhere for education."
Continental is one of the leading companies in western North Dakota's oil-producing region, where output has quintupled in the last five years. North Dakota is now the nation's No. 2 oil-producing state, and accounts for about 11 percent of the nation's domestic output.
The new school of geology and geological engineering will be part of UND's existing college of engineering and mining. It will be named for Hamm, who is worth almost $10 billion as the majority shareholder in Continental. Forbes magazine ranks Hamm 35th on its list of the 400 richest Americans.
"He's a big-wig," said UND graduate student Bailey Brubach, who plans to research geothermal energy in the Bakken shale formation. "I think what he's doing is really exciting."
Robert Kelley, the UND president, presented Hamm with a UND hard hat during a ceremony at the school Monday.
"This will go so far and mean so much to the future of North Dakota and doing the job we have to do for America," Hamm said. "It's bigger and better than I first envisioned, and the best is yet to come with this thing."