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Udden Memorial Scholarship Fund

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Johan A. Udden, PhD
Johan A. Udden, PhD

The Johan A. Udden Memorial Scholarship Fund was established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System on April 15, 1983, for the benefit of the Jackson School of Geosciences. Gift funds were provided by Mr. Wayne F. Bowman, Sr. of Houston, Texas, a 1915 graduate of The University of Texas at Austin Cockrell School of Engineering, Mrs. Wayne F. Bowman, Sr. of Houston, Texas, and Mr. Sam Mauritz Udden of Houston, Texas, a 1950 graduate of The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences. The endowment honors Mr. Johan August Udden of Austin, Texas and Mr. Svante Mauritz Udden of Kerrville, Texas, a 1916 graduate of The University of Texas at Austin Cockrell School of Engineering.

Johan A. Udden was born in Sweden on March 19, 1859. Two years later he came to the United States. with his parents, who settled in Minnesota. He received an MA degree from Augustana College in 1889, where he taught natural science and geology until 1911. Although working there temporarily in 1903-1904, his permanent connection with The University of Texas at Austin began in 1911 and continued until his death on January 5, 1932. In recognition of his distinguished service in science, Udden was knighted in 1911 by King Gustavus Fifth of Sweden. Udden served as head of the Bureau of Economic Geology at UT, where he encouraged pure geology, stressing fundamental research and areal mapping.

As director of the Bureau of Economic Geology from 1915-1932, Udden advised the Regents of the University in 1916 of the probable occurrence of oil and gas in the University lands of west Texas. This led to the discovery of the Big Lake oil field, at the time the world’s deepest profitably-producing field. It was a discovery with a tremendous impact on the financial security of the University over the next century. He recognized the potential value of well cuttings in a variety of geological endeavors and demonstrated this to the oil industry by establishing the first subsurface geology laboratory. In 1914 from a study of cuttings from a deep well in West Texas, he discovered extensive deposits of potash salts in the Permian basin.

Johan’s son, Svante Udden, was born on June 16, 1892 in Rock Island, Illinois while his father was a professor at Augustana College. Svante graduated from The University of Texas in 1916 with a degree in electrical engineering. After graduation he was employed as a sales engineer for Tennant-Lovegrove Company in Houston.

During WW I, Svante worked as an instructor for The University of Texas at Camp Mabry where he instructed soldiers in driving and mechanics. He served sixty days of active duty just prior to the end of the war. He returned to civilian life and was again employed by Tennant-Lovegrove.

In 1920 he married Hildur Anna Forsberg of Moline, Illinois. They had two children, Sam M. Udden, and another son who died in 1943. In 1922 Svante went to work in San Benito, Texas for Morrison and McCall in the ice manufacturing business. Morrison and McCall built a small empire of ice and power companies which later became Central Power and Light Company in south Texas. Svante was in charge of the ice manufacturing portion of the business.

In the mid 1920's the headquarters of Morrison and McCall moved to San Antonio as did the Udden family, and then later the headquarters moved again to Corpus Christi. During the Depression, Svante served as vice president of Central Power and Light, but when he retired in 1949 he was supervisor of the ice manufacturing business for Morrison and McCall. He bought two ice plants in Corpus Christi and privately operated them until 1961, when he moved to Kerrville and retired.

In 2011, Dr. Johan Udden was inducted into the Jackson School’s Hall of Distinction. This honor pays tribute to individuals who are or were strongly affiliated with the school and who achieved exceptional distinction and standing in academia, industry or government.

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