OU's Newest College Named For Longtime Donor

Friday, November 2nd 2007, 3:56 pm
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- The University of Oklahoma on Friday named its newest college for a longtime donor to programs in petroleum and geological engineering.

OU's College of Earth and Energy now bears the name of Curtis Mewbourne of Tyler, Texas, a 1958 alumnus who has given or pledged more than $20 million to the university. That total includes a $5 million pledge made during Friday's official naming ceremony at OU's Sarkeys Energy Center.

"No graduate of the university in its entire history has loved it more or been more generous in its support than Curtis Mewbourne," OU President David Boren said of Mewbourne, who made his fortune after starting Mewbourne Oil Co. in 1965. "His generosity to this institution goes back a long way. He has been embedded as part of our fabric."

Mewbourne joked that when he left OU five decades ago, "you could have gotten awfully long odds that my name would be on the school here someday."

The College of Earth and Energy, formed in January 2006 when the university combined its School of Geology and GeoPhysics – now named after energy giant ConocoPhillips -- and the School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering, the latter of which also bears Mewbourne's name.

OU and Stanford University in California are the only two colleges that have combined those two disciplines into one college, Mewbourne said.

"We are the models, but I think others will follow us in time," Mewbourne said.

Boren said the energy industry is evolving into one in which the two disciplines are becoming more intertwined.

"People in the industry now are working on interdisciplinary teams," Boren said. "Geologists and petroleum engineers are working together. There is no sort of firewall between the disciplines. ... It puts us in a position, by having this interdisciplinary approach, to become the undisputed national leader in energy education."

Mewbourne said the development of the energy industry "is the single most important thing ever to happen to the state of Oklahoma."

Boren said the new college had raised $32 million since its formation, and Mewbourne, who is leading its fundraising drive, said he expects that total to rise to $50 million within the next year.

The college also houses the Oklahoma Geological Survey and Sarkeys Energy Center.