The Bill C. Cotner Field Experience Fund

Jul 24, 2008 | Excellence Funds & Program Support

The Bill C. Cotner Field Experience Fund was established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System on July 24, 2008, to benefit The University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences. Gift funds were provided by Mr. Bill Cotner of Midland, Texas, a 1952 graduate of The University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences.

Born in Dallas, Bill began college at the University of Texas at Arlington. After 2 l/2 years, he transferred to UT Austin where he graduated with a B.S. in geology in 1953 (Bill jokes that he would have attended Southern Methodist University but there was no bridge over the Trinity River between Oak Cliff and Highland Park). Bill decided to create this field experience fund in order to help geoscience students defray expenses for the ever increasing cost of field training.

This was, however, not his first instance of philanthropy to the University; for the past 50 years, he has generously supported the UT athletics program. For over 56 years until her passing in September 2007, Bill was married to Dorothy Wylie. They met at a YWCA dance a year before their marriage on January 20, 1951. He credits her with putting him through college (after their move to Austin, she worked for the Texas military district). They both enjoyed golf and travelled the world together. The couple has three children: son David graduated from Texas A&M and is an independent petroleum engineer; son Bryan graduated from UT Austin and works for Chevron as a petroleum engineer; and daughter Terry graduated from Texas Christian University and works for her father. In addition, they have seven grandchildren.

Dorothy and Bill Cotner on their 50th wedding anniversary.
Bill and Dorothy moved to Midland in October 1953. He remembers the city as having “a lot of sand.” Since April 1963, he has been the owner of Meadco Properties and involved in oil and gas exploration, ranching, and hunting. Bill credits his success to the friends he made and the people he met after he got to work. “You’ve got to be lucky,” he says. His advice to Jackson School of Geosciences graduates: “Work hard, make friends is the main thing. And don’t burn any bridges.” In June 2011, Bill presented a gift to the Jackson School to establish the Dorothy W. and Bill C. Cotner Career Lounge in the school’s new student center.

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