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Vada A. and Walter V. Boyle Graduate Fellowship in Petroleum Geology

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Walter V. and Vada A. Boyle
Walter V. and Vada A. Boyle

The Vada A. and Walter V. Boyle Graduate Fellowship in Petroleum Geology was established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System on August 25, 2010, to benefit The University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences. Gift funds were provided by Mr. Walter V. and Mrs. Vada A. Boyle of Houston, Texas. Mr. Boyle is a 1955 graduate of The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences.

Walter V. Boyle’s connection to the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico goes back to before he was born. His father, Walter J. Boyle, graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in geology in 1923. Upon graduation, he was employed by the Indian Territory and Illumination Oil Company and later by the Transcontinental/Ohio Oil Co. In early 1927, Walt’s father and mother were sent to Ft. Stockton, Texas by Transcontinental/Ohio Oil Co. to complete the surface mapping of the giant “Yates Oil Field” in Pecos County, Texas using plane table and alidade.

Walt grew up in San Antonio, Texas, where his father was later employed by Phillips Petroleum Co. and H.V. Foster Petroleum Co. of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. In 1944, the senior Boyle became an Independent and Consulting Geologist in San Antonio until his death in 1973. Walt credits his love of geology to his father who would take him well-sitting and on business trips to south Texas. He also spent summers during high school and college working in his father’s office. 

Attending The University of Texas at Austin, Walt earned two degrees in geology, a BS in 1954 and an MA in 1955. As a graduate student, he was awarded a fellowship to teach Dr. Keith Young’s freshman geology labs. Walt found this to be a rewarding challenge which he feels prepared him for speaking and lecturing to his peers later in his career. Soon after graduation, he was employed by Shell Oil Co. as Petroleum Geologist in Roswell, New Mexico working in The North Basin and Delaware Basins of New Mexico and West Texas. By coincidence, Walt’s graduate thesis, which was completed under the supervision of Edgar W. Owen, former president of the AAPG and a long-time friend of his father’s, as well as Dr. Samuel P. Ellison, head of the Geology Department, and Professor Ronald K. DeFord, Graduate Advisor, was on the Ordovician Simpson Group of Pecos County.

During his tenure with Shell Exploration & Production, Walt’s assignments were in Roswell, New Mexico; Midland, Texas; Farmington, New Mexico; Denver, Colorado; and lastly in Houston, Texas. While working in the Denver office, he met Vada. Born in Oklahoma, Vada studied music in college and received her Bachelor’s degree in education from Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Weatherford, Oklahoma. Upon graduation, she began working for Shell in the Oklahoma City office. Shortly after meeting, Vada and Walt were married. They transferred to Houston a few years later when Shell closed its Denver office. After a long, rewarding, and interesting career in which he supervised and guided the company’s exploration efforts in the Permian, Albuquerque, Paradox, Unita, San Juan, and Black Mesa basins, Walt retired in 1992. Vada also retired in 1992 after an interesting career in Shell’s Exploration and Public Affairs office.

In retirement, Walt and Vada find much pleasure in traveling around the world and exploring other countries. Vada keeps especially busy devoting herself to her passion for music. She has sung in church choirs in every city she has lived. She also volunteers in various arts organizations. Most of her time is spent with the Houston Symphony League, where she has held numerous positions on the Executive Board. The league has recognized her tireless civic efforts with the Ardyce Tostengard Crystal Cello Volunteer of the Year in Education Award and Ellen Kelley Volunteer of the Year Award. In addition, Vada serves on the Moores School of Music Society Board of Advisors at the University of Houston. Her interest in children’s choirs has led to her service on the board of the Houston Chapter Chorister’s Guild. Participation in book club discussions is another rewarding retirement activity. Whether by traveling, volunteering, or reading, Vada and Walt spend their days continuing their lifetime commitment to learning.

The Boyles’s philanthropy reflects their fortune in having a fulfilling, exciting, and rewarding life together and they wish to give others the opportunity to accomplish their goals. Walt has always felt that it was a distinct privilege and honor to study at one of the most prestigious and outstanding geology departments in the United States. He recalls the great esprit de corps among the geology students in the mid 1950s. Professors such as Dr. Samuel P. Ellison, the head of the Geology Department, Ronald K. DeFord, head of the Graduate Department, Dr. Robert L. Folk, Dr. William R. Muehlberger, and Dr. Keith Young inspired their students to strive to be the best in their chosen profession. Walt remembers Edgar W. Owen, who brought in the leaders from the petroleum industry to lecture about their experiences to graduate students. Today, in the Boyle’s view, Dean Sharon Mosher will ably lead the Jackson School into the 21st Century as one of the outstanding geoscience schools in the world.

Vada and Walt strongly believe that the most rewarding gift one can give a young person is the opportunity to receive an excellent formal education at a top rate university such as UT Austin. “A good college education,” they emphasize, “is something you can never take away from a young adult and it is something that they can treasure and enjoy forever.” The creation of their endowment represents their chance to help young people “fulfill and achieve their hopes, dreams, and goals in life” by giving back to The University of Texas at Austin and the geologic world which has been good to them.

Vada and Walt continue to actively support the Jackson School. As members of its two giving societies, the L.T. Barrow Founders Circle and the Robert T. Hill Society, they have generously provided a million dollar bequest to their endowment. More recently, the Boyles have contributed to efforts to create the RK DeFord Graduate Advising Suite in the school’s new student center. In their words, “we hope these gifts will inspire the young graduate students in the Jackson School of Geosciences to go forward and contribute Great Ideas and Accomplishments to the Petroleum Industry, our Country, and our Society.”

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