KU, Geology, and Industry

The University and Industry

The University of Kansas, founded in 1864, serves as a major comprehensive research and teaching institution as well as a center for learning, scholarship, and creative endeavor.  The University of Kansas Department of Geology was established in the first half of the last century, developing a tradition of excellence in sedimentary geology and paleontology with research that encompasses studies of modern and ancient environments.  Today, that reputation has been greatly enhanced, through interdisciplinary broadening of the program, which includes collaborations with student and faculty researchers in the Kansas Geological Survey and Departments of Petroleum  Engineering.  The programs related to petroleum geology and geophysics at the University of Kansas are on the cutting edge in research and training for students.  KU provides diverse training in theory and practice and concentrates on both academic and applied research.  It maintains a strong presence in the Industry. At the last AAPG annual meeting, faculty, students. and staff from the University of Kansas authored 32 abstracts. The University of Kansas has maintained close connections with the Oil Industry over the years and has trained many of the leaders of petroleum geology. It continues to provide the same broad training to its students while working on cutting-edge research related to the Industry.


An Exceptional Track Record in Industry

A recent survey of KU graduates from 1958-1997 shows that 219 persons have entered the oil industry from this program.  The program continues to produce a constant flow of M.S. and Ph.D. students for work in the oil industry, To evaluate the importance of University of Kansas students to the petroleum industry, it is worthwhile to evaluate the accomplishments of some of its outstanding alumni.  Yearly, the Department awards the Erasmus Haworth Award to its most outstanding Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D., and to its most outstanding alumni.  A survey of the accomplishments of these award winners shows that they have excelled in the geologic sciences and in the oil industry in particular. The list includes four presidents of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (Pratt, Haas, Fisher, and Foster), three presidents of SEPM (the Society for Sedimentary Geology; Croneis, G. Dallas Hanna, and Marcus A. Hanna), five presidents of the Paleontological Society (Dunbar, Knight, Newell, Yochelson, and Lane), one of the Mineralogical Society of America (A.F. Rogers), and one of the Geological Society of America (Hedberg).  There have been 7 recipients of AAPG’s highest award, the Sidney Powers Medal (more than any other university; Pratt, Croneis, McGee, Hedberg, Haas, Fisher, Foster)** and recipients of SEPM’s Twenhofel, Pettijohn, and Moore* medals (Fisher, Dunbar, Newell, and Enos).  Two were recipients of GSA’s highest award, the Penrose medal (Hedberg, Newell) and one received the Meinzer Award of GSA’s Hydrogeology Division (Stanley Davis). Three were recognized as honorary members of GSA (M.A. Hanna, Dunbar, Newell) and two won the Paleontological Society Medal (Dunbar, Newell). Dan Merriam received the William Smith Medal, the highest award presented by the Geological Society of London. Many have achieved positions as high officials in various oil companies, especially in Exxon (Merrill Haas, Richard Meek, H.H. Hall, Ray P. Walters).  Others have included an Executive Vice President of Phillips (Rickards), a Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Union Pacific Resources (Adams),  a President of Shell Gas  (Funk) and a President of Western Geophysical (Cramer) and high officials with Sun (Tyler), Getty (Carlos), Gulf (Hedberg), and Maraven (Hans Krause).  Wallace Pratt was Vice President of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (Now ExxonMobil) and a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee.  Dean McGee (Kerr-Mcgee) was one of the 400 richest people in the US, as listed by Fortune magazine.


*Both W.H. Twenhofel and R.C. Moore were KU faculty members, although Twenhofel only was here for 1 year.

**Two KU faculty also won the Powers Medal, K.K. Landes and Moore; Landes had left KU for Michigan when he won the award.


Why has KU Trained so Many Successful Professionals for the Petroleum Industry?

– A tradition of strength and diversity in sedimentary geology.

– A curriculum of depth and breadth in Geology and Geophysics

– An emphasis on helping students develop the skills useful for a successful career in the long-term, as opposed to training aimed at short-term goals.

– Verbal communication

– Writing

– Logic and geologic reasoning

– Broad field experiences

– Diverse course experiences

– Practical skills specifically related to oil exploration, development, and production

– Interaction between geologists, geophysicists, and engineers