Pennzoil and Pogo Producing Companies - William E. Gipson Scholarships

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The Pennzoil and Pogo Producing Companies—William E. Gipson Scholarships were established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System on February 14, 1986, for the benefit of the Jackson School of Geological Sciences. Gift funds were provided by Mr. William E. Gipson of Houston, Texas, a 1949 graduate of The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geological Sciences with partial matching gifts from the two companies.

William E. Gipson
William E. Gipson

Born in Winters, Texas on September 6, 1924, William E. Gipson saw the economic benefits of oil early in his life while growing up during the Great Depression and is certain that it influenced his choice of study. Upon graduating from Gilmer High School in 1941, Gipson, knowing that he wanted a “profession” in “something I was good at” attended Kilgore Junior College. Enrolling in his first geology course, he recalls feeling, “this is it.” He soon transferred to Southern Methodist University in Dallas but interrupted his studies to join the U.S. Naval Reserves. Assigned to an amphibious gunboat during World War II, Lieutenant (junior grade) Gipson saw combat in the Pacific Theater. Upon his discharge in 1946, he knew that he wanted to be involved with the tremendous postwar demand for oil and gas. Though he enjoyed studying at SMU, Gipson, realizing that UT Austin had the best petroleum geology program in the country, transferred to the Austin campus where he earned two degrees in geology, a BA in 1948 and MA in 1949.

The decision to study at the University of Texas is one that Gipson has never regretted. To this day, he not only believes that it has the best in training for petroleum geologists but is “overall, the best school period.”

Upon leaving the University, Gipson was hired as a geologist by Marathon Oil in Midland, Texas. Four years later, he began his career as an independent oilman co-founding Gipson & Keyser (1953-60), Liedtke, Ltd. (1956-62), and Stetco Petroleum (1962-63). When Stetco merged into the Pennzoil Company in 1963, Gipson spent the next 14 years in charge of exploration worldwide for Pennzoil. In 1970, Pogo (Pennzoil Offshore Gas Operators), was formed and spun off as a separate company 7 years later. Gipson served as its first President until 1989 and a Director until 1998. Today, he is an Investment Manager, Petroleum Consultant, and Geologist. In addition, he is the Owner of GM Farms in Upshur County, Texas, and is Principal Owner of Pheasant Ridge Vineyards and Winery, LLP. Gipson is also a member of the DeBakey Heart Institute Advisory Council of Methodist Hospital in Houston.

Gipson’s current professional association memberships include the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), American Geological Institute (AGI), National Ocean Industries Association, and West Texas Geological Society. Among his many honors: Hill Society, Jackson School of Geosciences, UT Austin (2010); Hall of Honor, College of Natural Sciences, UT Austin (1996); Hall of Distinction, Jackson School of Geosciences, UT Austin (1991); Honorary Life Member, AAPG (1991); Distinguished Graduate, Department of Geological Sciences, UT Austin (1990); and Outstanding Ex-Student, Kilgore College (1985).

Since 1969, Gipson has been a member of the Geology Foundation Advisory Council and served as its Vice Chairman (1985-87) and Chairman (1987-89). He was elected to Honorary Life Membership in 1991. Gipson remains actively and generously committed to the foundation. He regularly attends the biannual Advisory Council meetings and his most recent gifts support efforts to build the Jackson School’s new student center, most notably the RK DeFord Graduate Advising Suite and Stephen E. Clabaugh Granite Alcove.

“Giving back to the system that I came out of,” is Gipson’s reason for creating this endowment. In doing so, he especially desires to “give aid to Texas students who want to stay at the University of Texas and get their master’s and hopefully, want to go into the petroleum world.” A father of a son and three daughters as well as a successful businessman, Gipson feels “very fortunate to have lived this long and had an interesting career” and hopes that this endowment will help to educate “more and better petroleum geologists.”

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