Money to be used for scholarships, equipment and TEMS program

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FARMINGTON — San Juan College’s School of Energy has received a $15,000 donation from a community and industry partner as the spring semester approaches.

A representative of the Bisti Fuels Co. — part of the North American Coal Corp. that operates the Navajo Mine for Navajo Transitional Energy Co. — presented an oversized check to the San Juan College Foundation at the college’s Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday.

Andy Hawkins, the business manager for Bisti Fuels, said the North American Coal Corp. “is proud of our record of supporting the communities that we live in.”

“We don’t just come here and operate a mine, but we live and work in the same communities as you, and we feel as a good corporate citizen we should be reaching out to the organizations in our communities and supporting them both with our time and effort, and our financial resources as well,” Hawkins said.

The North American Coal Corp., which established an office in the Four Corners in March 2016 and has a contract with NTEC through 2031, made a first donation of $15,000 to the college in December 2016, making its total contributions to the foundation $30,000, according to Gayle Dean, executive director of the San Juan College Foundation.

Dean said the $15,000 donation will be designated for the School of Energy, specifically for student scholarships, program equipment and support for the Tribal Energy Management Studies Program.

Barbara Wickman, dean of the School of Energy, and Eddi Porter, business liaison for the School of Energy, updated the board on the TEMS program, which will start its second semester on Jan 15.

The TEMS program is a 60-credit associate degree program that also offers seminar series enrollment to members of the industry and public. The School of Energy will host five week-long seminars each academic year that cover a variety of in-depth topics, including the history of federal policies regarding resource development on tribal lands, tribal governance and regulations, and tribal business and finance practices.

Wickman said the first two seminars, held in late October and early December at the college, each saw approximately 30 participants, with a fairly even mix of TEMS students and professional participants. The next seminar series is scheduled for Jan 22-26 and will focus on tribal governance, sovereignty and regulations.

At the Tuesday meeting, the board also unanimously approved the fiscal year 2017 comprehensive financial report. The financial audit earned an “unmodified opinion,” according to board reports provided by San Juan College Vice President of Administration Ed DesPlas. An unmodified opinion is the best opinion given and means “the auditor feels confident that everything in the financial statements is a true reflection of the entity’s operations,” according to the New Mexico Office of the State Auditor.

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or mpetersen@daily-times.com.

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