Program History

Formerly Energy and Mineral Resources (EMR), the Energy and Earth Resources (EER) program retains its emphasis on energy and substitutes for mineral a term that encompasses minerals, water, and other materials derived from the Earth. This name change, made effective in 2006, reflects the breadth of the program as it exists today.

The program was established in 1981 under the leadership of  Dr. Peter Flawn and Dr. William L. Fisher. The first director, Dr. Willem C.J. vanRensburg,  successfully led the program from 1981 to 2005. Under his guidance, supported by the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, the program graduated more than 160 students who readily found employment in mineral, energy, financial, government, and consulting organizations. Under his leadership, the program won 37 of 48 prizes over a fifteen year span in a national competition for best student papers in Mineral Economics, sponsored by the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America.

Upon notification of Dr. vanRensburg’s retirement in 2005, the program’s support base moved to the Jackson School of Geosciences and leadership of the program shifted to Dr. Charles G. Groat. Dr. Groat advanced the EER program to include dual degrees with the McCombs School of Business MBA program and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. The program encompassed new advances in technology, including renewables, green tech, unconventional resources, and energy finance.

Upon Dr. Groat’s retirement, Dr. William L. Fisher returned as interim director in January 2013. In September 2016, Richard J. Chuchla joined the program as director. Dr. Fred Beach took over as program director September 2023 upon Chuchla’s retirement.

The key contacts for prospective and current students are the Graduate Coordinators.