James A. Gibbs Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology Graduate Fellowship Fund

May 30, 2005 | Graduate Fellowships

The son of a petroleum geologist/independent oilman, James A. Gibbs was born in Wichita Falls, Texas. Rocks always interested Jim; he recalls at the age of five or six breaking open river rocks in the family driveway “just to see what’s inside.” He also remembers prowling old mine dumps in Colorado a few years later while on family vacations.

It is therefore no surprise that he earned a BS in geology from the University of Oklahoma in 1957. Upon graduation, he served as a communications officer in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid and CINCLANT staff for two years. Jim then embarked on graduate studies in geology at The University of Texas at Austin from 1959 to 1960 before returning to the University of Oklahoma where he earned an MS in geology in 1961. He is married to Judy Gibbs, née Judith A. Walker, of Taylor, Louisiana, and they have two sons, Ford Walker Gibbs and John Alan Gibbs.

Jim is chairman of the board of managers of Five States Energy Company, L.L.C., a private equity investment group he founded in 1985. Based in Dallas, the firm focuses on longer term, income generating opportunities in energy and real estate. Jim’s career has included working as a geologist for The California Company (Chevron) in Louisiana, as well as a consulting geologist and independent oil and gas producer in Texas.

A Certified Petroleum Geologist and a Certified Professional Geologist, he is a past president and honorary life member of both the American Association of Petroleum Geologists and the Dallas Geological Society. Jim is a former chair of the Governmental Affairs Committee of the American Geological Institute, a member of the Board of Directors (North Central Texas) of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and an honorary life member of the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists.

James A. Gibbs

His devotion to his profession is further reflected in his involvement in academia. Although Jim attended UT Austin for only a year he actively supports the Jackson School and serves as a member of the Geology Foundation Advisory Council and is a past member of the school’s Bureau of Economic Geology Advisory Board. In addition, he provides support and counsel to Southern Methodist University (as a Trustee to its Institute for the Study of Earth and Man and a member of the Executive Board of the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences) and the University of Oklahoma (as a former chair of its School of Geology and Geophysics’ Alumni Advisory Council, and as a member of the Board of Visitors of the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy).

Jim’s service to the Geology Foundation is rooted in his professional association with two Jackson School alumni, Fred Oliver (BS ’51) and Bill Stokes (BS ’50). Knowing first-hand of his expertise in industry and willingness to support the geosciences, no matter the venue, they asked him to join the Advisory Council in 1996. Jim soon came in contact with other board members and faculty who shared his views on an area of particular interest to him, water resources in Texas and the southwest. Long aware of the Lone Star State’s dependence on water, it is critical in Jim’s view that this resource be properly managed. “Hydrogeology,” he says, “is a field that is becoming an even more important factor in our state’s development.”

This endowment, which provides fellowships for graduate students to support education and research in the general field of hydrogeology, was proudly established by Jim to promote water resource management. Perhaps the only person who would have been more pleased about this gift would have been the late John Jackson who had a strong interest in expanding the water and hydrogeology efforts within the Jackson School.

While Jim feels that studying hydrogeology at UT Austin is, “a good place to do good,” he nevertheless counsels students that obtaining a higher education is just a start. “A degree,” he believes, “should expand one’s personal development, socially and professionally, not lead you through a restrictive corridor for employment.” To Jim, the value of a degree in the real world is only as good as its holder, for if “you do not find a job, you have all the tools necessary to create one for yourself and perhaps many others.”

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