Celebrating the impact of our donors and generous community.
We celebrate the generosity of our community through our giving societies – the Hill Society and the Barrow Founders Circle. Every year, we welcome new members and celebrate our commitment to the school with the Society Dinner. In addition, the annual Scholars Luncheon brings students, their parents and scholarship donors together to share camaraderie and connection. The Distinguished Lectureships Series brings in world-class geosciences speakers and is offered every semester and are available to the public.
We invite you to join in the celebration! Please call us at 512.471.1282 for more information.
We invite you to read about people, just like you, who have made a significant difference in moving the school forward.
Glenn Swenumson started work on a seismic crew for Conoco in 1948. He reckons that over the next 38 years, he and his growing family lived in 22 places. His son was born in Louisiana, his first daughter in Colorado and his second daughter in New Mexico. He wistfully recalls those days as a doodlebugger.
“Everybody was just out of the military and everyone was broke and had little kids and we’d hit a new town two or three times a year and we’re all looking for places to live,” he recalls.
“We had a spirit, and we still do,” he adds. “I had affection for all the people and their families, the old grizzled dynamite shooters and the shothole drillers.”
He worked his way up to party chief, then seismic supervisor, division geophysicist, and finally area geophysicist with responsibility over several divisions. He retired from Conoco in 1985 and lives in Houston.
This past Father’s Day, his daughter Carol Swenumson Baker (B.S., 1984) surprised him by revealing that she had created an endowment at the Jackson School partly in his honor. The Swenumson-Baker Geophysics Excellence Fund is designed to “promote excellence in the geophysics program, including support for equipment, travel and other expenses associated with geophysics field trips and field courses.”
“It was a heck of a nice surprise on Father’s Day,” he says. “I asked her how did Swenumson get ahead of the Baker in the name? And she said that’s just how she wanted it.”
In 1984, Baker went to work for Exxon as a seismic data processor. Now she works in information technology supporting geoscientists and managers across the company. ExxonMobil matches all employee charitable contributions three to one. The Jackson School matches certain contributions (including corporate matches) one to one. Together, these matches magnify her gifts eightfold. For example, a gift of $1,000 is raised to $4,000 with the corporate match and then doubled to $8,000 with the Jackson match.
“I had already been giving each year to a geophysics fund and I started very early on in my career,” she said. “I started small because I wasn’t making much money then and as I could, I increased that. I had never even thought about giving an endowment until Ann Flemings approached me about it last year and explained how you don’t have to be Bill Gates to create an endowment, someone at my level could do it.”
Her father never pushed her towards petroleum geophysics, in fact he was surprised when she told him that that’s what she wanted to study in college. But she says he did pass on his love of geology in subtle ways, for example pointing out interesting geological features on family trips to the mountains, national parks, and his South Dakota birthplace.
Baker says this fund is her way of giving back to an institution that made such an important impact on her life.
“It was a very special time in my life,” she says. “The group of friends I made in the department, we remain friends to this day. We spent weekends cramming and studying together. The whole experience was great. The caliber of the institution and the people are top notch and I’d like to see them grow even more.”
The Darwins believe in the importance of promoting the early success of future earth scientists. That’s why Pam (MS ’84) and her husband Barnes led the way in creating the first formal endowment for the GeoFORCE Texas program.
“We know that what we have done is a small token, but we hope that if others join this effort it will make a broad impact on the future of so many wonderful students,” says Darwin, Vice President at ExxonMobil.
GeoFORCE Texas, the nation’s largest college prep program for earth sciences based at The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences, fills a critical need by inspiring the next generation of geoscientists. It also fosters increased diversity in the U.S. workforce. The program rewards outstanding students from select South Texas Independent School Districts and Houston schools from grades 8-12 with the chance to travel the country, meet inspiring people and learn about opportunities for careers in the geosciences.
Darwin attended her first GeoFORCE event last year. The program has long been supported by her employer, but it was the first time she was able to meet these extraordinary students and hear their stories. The encounter prompted her to find ways to support the program.
“This was the first time that many of the students had ever traveled outside of Texas ” she says. “They were so excited about what they’d seen and their parents were excited too. The kids were at the top of their respective classes, but they hadn’t had exposure to a lot of other kids who liked math and science. So it was very fulfilling for them. And it was touching for me.”
Darwin recalls how a wonderful earth science teacher inspired her to learn about the world around her when she was only 12 years old. She hopes GeoFORCE will have that same power to inspire these students.
“It doesn’t matter whether they go into math or science,” she says. “What’s important is that it offers them a view into science. They can see what it’s like to be a scientist, hear what graduate school is like and learn what people in industry do. It’s a great opportunity to go beyond what they get in the classroom.”
Darwin enhanced her family’s gift by using ExxonMobil’s 3:1 matching program and the Jackson School’s own 1:1 matching program. This immediately grew their fund to $100,000.
The Darwin Family GeoFORCE Texas Fund will assure the long term availability of resources so students admitted to the program can continue their geosciences journey throughout high school, into college and beyond.
First GeoFORCE Grads Go to College
This fall, the first cohort of 80 students to complete all four years of the GeoFORCE Texas program—all graduates of southwest Texas high schools—are heading to college. A whopping 90 percent were accepted into colleges and universities, with 63 percent majoring in science, engineering or math.
In the last 10 years, no student from the southwest Texas high schools making up the GeoFORCE network went on to graduate with a geosciences degree from the University of Texas at Austin. This year, 12 GeoFORCE graduates are attending UT Austin, 5 of which are pursuing majors in the Jackson School.
Learn more about GeoFORCE Texas.
The war had just ended and universities swelled with record enrollments as returning soldiers took advantage of the G.I. Bill.
When Jeanne Allen Ferrin (B.A., 1948) came to The University of Texas at Austin to study geology in the 1940s, she wasn’t the only woman. Her sister Rosamond (B.A., 1947) was already a student in the program. In the late ‘40s, 18 women graduated from the university with geology degrees.
There were a total of 140 geology graduates in that time. Still, women were increasingly pursuing careers requiring college level education.
Classes were held in the original geology building, now named the W.C. Hogg Building.
Although Ferrin enjoyed her geological studies, graduated, and went on to work in the oil and gas industry in Texas, she and the other women students faced challenges trying to make it in a male dominated field. They were barred from taking field-based courses with their male counterparts. They were instead required to take alternative courses to fulfill their graduation requirements. And they didn’t always get the credit they deserved.
“The men didn’t want us in their classes getting the A’s,” she said. “If you got a good grade, they claimed it was because you were a girl; but that’s not true, we worked hard.”
When Rosamond Haertlein went to work for Gulf Oil in Shreveport, she was the only woman geologist in the company and one of only four women in the local geological society. She said the men didn’t know quite what to make of her.
“I would come back from the field carrying a hammer and ride the elevator with the men and they’d say, ‘What are you going to do with that hammer?’,” she said.
Ferrin’s nephew Albert Haertlein (B.S., 1978), a geologist at SG Interests, an independent oil and gas company in Houston, wanted to make a gift to the Jackson School that would have a real impact. After brainstorming with the school’s development staff, he decided to establish the Rosamond Allen Haertlein and Jeanne Allen Ferrin Junior Faculty Fund in honor of his mother and aunt.
“They were early women in geology, not the first, but certainly at a challenging time,” said Haertlein. “So I thought it would be nice to make sure their names are associated with an effort to promote women in geology.”
According to the endowment charter: “Funds from the endowment shall be used to support untenured faculty members. When it is demonstrable that female faculty are under-represented in the Department of Geological Sciences and to the extent permissible under the law and the University policies, preference should be shown to female faculty members.”
Endowments such as this offer a way for alumni to shape the culture of the Jackson School. They are a way of imparting values and expanding the vision for what the school can achieve.
Out of 43 active faculty members in the Department of Geological Sciences, just five are women (2 more will join in 2009). According to a report by the Association for Women Geoscientists, one of three keys to increasing the number of women receiving doctoral degrees in geosciences is to provide more role models: “Female students look around to see if anybody on the faculty looks like them and has a lifestyle they want.”
“These funds will be very beneficial for young faculty just initiating their research and teaching programs, especially young women,” said Sharon Mosher, Dean of the Jackson School. “Seed funding and extra support makes a world of difference when you are starting an academic career.”
Evening of Thanks
In March 2015, we welcomed new Hill Society and Barrow Founders Circle members, as well as introducing two new giving societies, The Katie Society, which recognizes those who have given $500,000 and above to the school and The Flawn Circle of Excellence, recognizing giving of $1,000,000 or more. See photos of this festive event.
The annual Jackson School Scholars Luncheon is a celebration of philanthropy and scholarship for donors, students and their families, and Jackson School Leadership. Each fall, this special school event allows donors and their scholars the opportunity to connect in person. For donors, it’s an opportunity to meet the talented students they support; for students, it means a chance to express their gratitude face-to-face. See Fall 2014 photos.
This society recognizes those who have contributed a total of $10,000 or more over the years to the Jackson School and is named after Robert T. Hill, the first professor and chair of the Department of Geology. He was known as the “Father of Texas Geology.”
Born in Nashville, Tennessee two years before the start of the Civil War, Robert T. Hill led a colorful life. He dropped out of school in the sixth grade and went to work for his brother at a newspaper in Comanche, Texas, a wild frontier town. He spent some time as a cowboy on the Dodge City Trail. In his spare time, he collected rocks and fossils and went on to receive a B.S. in geology from Cornell University in 1887. Through some 200 papers, books, and maps, he made significant contributions to the understanding of Texas geology.
In 1921, Hill was an expert witness for Texas in a boundary suit between Texas and Oklahoma. His testimony, along with those of other specialists, permanently won for Texas some 450,000 acres of river-valley lands and over 90 percent of the oil wells along the Red River. He received international attention as one of the first scientists to study the volcano Pelée on the island of Martinique during its catastrophic eruptive cycle of 1902, being the first to describe its classic “glowing cloud.” Hill was an original fellow of the Geological Society of America.
The last ten years of his life, he wrote about science and Texas history for the Dallas Morning News. Hill died in 1941.
The L.T. Barrow Founders Circle recognizes friends and alumni who have given cumulative gifts of $100,000 or more since the Jackson School was established in 2005. It was named in honor of Leonidas T. Barrow (B.S., 1921; M.S. 1923), who was a geology instructor in the Department (1921-24) and chairman of the board of Humble Oil and Refining Company (1948-55), which later consolidated with Standard Oil to become Exxon.
Leonidas Theodore (Slim) Barrow entered the University of Texas in 1917, but in 1918 he left the university to join the Signal Corps of the United States Army. He returned upon his military discharge in 1919 and was awarded the bachelor’s degree in geology in 1921. During his undergraduate days he played on the Longhorn football and basketball teams, where he earned his nickname. He received his master’s degree in 1923 and served as instructor in geology at the University of Texas from 1921 to 1924. In 1923 he married Laura Thomson, a geology student at the university.
Barrow served on the Geology Foundation Council from 1957 to 1963 and was elected a lifetime honorary member in 1964. He was also a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and the Geophysical Union, as well as a fellow of the Geological Society of America.
Barrow died in Houston on March 4, 1978.
The Katie Society is named after Katherine G. “Katie” Jackson, beloved wife of the late John A. Jackson. Katherine Jackson graduated from Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos in 1939. She went on to teach students across the state in Marble Falls, Temple and Alice. She married Jack Jackson in 1941, and lent her name to the Jackson’s primary business, The Katie Petroleum Company, and also to the Dallas Press Club’s Katie Awards.
Jackson served on the Board of Regents at Texas Lutheran College in Seguin for 20 years and was a Trustee of Dallas Presbyterian Hospital. In partnership with her husband, she helped establish the Jackson School through an endowment that transformed the Department of Geological Sciences into a school in its own right, dedicated to educating generations of geosciences students.
Katherine Jackson died in 2001 at the age of 83.
Flawn Circle of Excellence
This circle is named after Peter T. Flawn, who has a long and distinguished history as a leader in the University of Texas system as well as in science and industry in general. He served as president of UT Austin twice and UT San Antonio once. He was named president emeritus by the UT Board of Regents in 1985. He served as professor of geological sciences and director of the Bureau of Economic Geology at UT Austin from 1960 to 1970. He became professor of geological sciences and public affairs in 1970 and Leonidas T. Barrow Professor of Mineral Resources in 1978. From 1970 to 1972, he served as vice president for academic affairs. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1974. He was president of the Geological Society of America in 1978 and president of the American Geological Institute in 1988. He was a member of the National Science Board from 1980 to 1986. The American Geological Institute awarded him their most prestigious honor, the Ian Campbell Medal, in 1993. He began his career as a junior geologist in the Mineral Deposits branch of the U.S. Geological Survey in 1948. He also conducted research at the Bureau of Economic Geology from 1949 to 1960. He received his B.A. from Oberlin College in 1947 and Ph.D. in geology from Yale University in 1951. He is a professor emeritus at UT Austin and an honorary life member of the Geology Foundation Advisory Council.
The Texas Leadership Society is a special organization created to recognize people who have included the University in their estate plans