Texas A&M petroleum engineering head chair honors Dr. Stephen A. Holditch

Aggies have stepped up to endow a department head chair at Texas A&M University.

The chair honors the service of an outstanding leader in petroleum engineering, Dr. Stephen A. Holditch, who recently stepped down as head of the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering after eight years of leading and developing Texas A&M petroleum engineering into one of the top programs in the nation. 

The Dr. Stephen A. Holditch ’69 Department Head Chair in Petroleum Engineering, funded through the Texas A&M Foundation, is being created to recruit and retain his replacement and provide funding for key faculty. Holditch will remain a part of the faculty and is currently director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute.

Many Aggie petroleum engineering former students have come forth to kick off the funding for this chair. The goal for this chair is $5 million and funding efforts are ongoing. The following Aggies have stepped forward with endowed commitments for this chair:

  • Terry W. Rathert, Newfield Exploration Co., Class of 1975.
  • David D. Dunlap, Superior Energy Services Inc., Class of 1983.
  • Stephen R. Horn, Ronin Partners LLC, Class of 1979.
  • Susan & Jeff Miller, Mercuria Energy Trading Inc., Class of 1985.
  • Peter D. Huddleston, Huddleston & Co. Class of 1980.
  • Joan & George Voneiff, Unconventional Gas Resources, Class of 1983.
  • Gregory A. Bird, Jetta Operating Co., Class of 1982.
  • Tim A. Leach, Concho Resources Inc., Class of 1982.
  • Mark W. Albers, ExxonMobil Corp., Class of 1979.

Holditch earned three petroleum engineering degrees from Texas A&M, a Bachelor of Science degree in 1969, Master of Science in 1970 and a Ph.D. in 1976. He was a production engineer for Shell Oil Co. before joining the Texas A&M petroleum engineering faculty in 1976.

Career highlights for Holditch include: 

  • Elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1995 at the age of 49. Election to the NAE is the highest honor that can be given to an engineer. Out of the 2-3 million practicing engineers in the United States, there are only 1,989 members of the NAE, which is approximately 0.1 percent of the engineering community.
  • President of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) in 2002.
  • Elected an SPE Honorary Member in 2006, which is the highest honor that SPE presents to an individual and is limited to 0.1 percent of the SPE total membership.
  • Hired as the head of the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University in 2004. The Texas A&M petroleum engineering department is one of the top-ranked departments in the world in petroleum engineering.
  • Has been on the Texas A&M Faculty since Jan. 1, 1976. He has taught 97 courses, has been on 164 graduate committees and has supervised the research of 86 of those graduate students. 
  • Since 1976, he has helped bring in more than $9 million in research funding.

While state funds cover basic faculty requirements (less than one-third of the petroleum engineering department’s budget comes from the state of Texas), private support is essential to attract and retain world class professors. Key members of the petroleum engineering industry board and former students who were taught by Holditch decided to fund this department head chair through the support of a multitude of donors. This will be one of the most prestigious chairs in the Dwight Look College of Engineering and funding for this chair is ongoing.

“A gift like this is such a great reflection of the ‘Aggie Spirit’ at its finest,” said Brady Bullard, director of development for petroleum engineering with the Texas A&M Foundation. "Petroleum engineering Aggies tend to have a fierce devotion to Texas A&M and the department, and they want to ensure that the department and its students continue to thrive for generations to come."

U.S. News & World Report ranks Texas A&M’s petroleum engineering department first in undergraduate and second in graduate studies among U.S. public institutions. Fall 2011 enrollment totaled 968, which included 630 undergraduate and 338 graduate students. The department’s undergraduate and graduate programs have been consistently ranked #1 or #2 in the nation among all universities with a petroleum program for the past decade. 

The gifts from each donor will be counted towards Texas A&M Foundation’s upcoming major capital campaign for Texas A&M University while sustaining the distinctive Aggie spirit. The volunteer-led campaign, will be coordinated by the Foundation and encompass all private gifts benefiting Texas A&MUniversity.

If you would like to find out ways to contribute to this department head chair, please contact: Brady Bullard ’95, Director of Development, Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering, Texas A&M Foundation, 916C Richardson Building, 3116 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-3116. Or you may contact Bullard at 979-845-5113 (office) or 979-324-7921 (cell), or by email at b-bullard@tamu.edu.

All gifts to the Texas A&M Foundation are charitable contributions and qualify as income tax deductions to the extent allowable by the law.