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Steve Holditch
Dr. Stephen A. Holditch, class of '69, passed away Aug. 9, 2019. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Dr. Stephen A. Holditch ’69, who served on the faculty of the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University since 1976, passed away on Aug. 9, 2019. 

Holditch was a perfect example of an outstanding Aggie. He was a member of the Corps of Cadets and Ross Volunteers as an undergraduate in petroleum engineering at Texas A&M. Holditch rose to the rank of Second Battalion Commander before he graduated and later attained his master’s degree. He always extolled the values he learned in the corps and proudly credited them as the basis of his success in the oil and gas industry.

While on leave from Shell Oil Company to obtain his Ph.D. at Texas A&M, Holditch accepted an offer from his alma mater to be an assistant professor. He also started a consulting firm, S.A. Holditch and Associates, Inc. As he rose through the faculty ranks, his business grew into a large company with a global reputation for solving the most challenging petroleum engineering problems.

Holditch was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1995, which is the highest professional honor for an engineer. Two years later, Schlumberger acquired his company and, with Holditch retained as an advisor, adopted all aspects of his reservoir analysis methods.

In 2002, Holditch became president of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), a global organization with more than 70,000 members. In total, he spent six years on the SPE board of directors: three years as vice president of finance and three years in the presidential rotation. During that time he traveled the world discussing oil and gas technology.

In January 2004, Holditch left Schlumberger so he could focus on Texas A&M as head of the petroleum engineering department, a position he held until January 2012. During his tenure, the number of students in the department more than doubled. He revitalized the Crisman Institute of Petroleum Research to promote better research and industry relations and later served as director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute.

Holditch retired from Texas A&M in January 2013 as a professor emeritus of petroleum engineering so he could spend more time with family, especially his grandchildren. He returned to the campus he loved in 2016 as a part-time professor all while continuing to put family first.

Steve Holditch in Corps of Cadets uniform, circa 1969
Stephen A. Holditch, while a student at Texas A&M University. | Image: provided by Holditch family

Over the years, Holditch earned a reputation as a world-renowned expert in the areas of tight gas reservoirs, coalbed methane, shale gas reservoirs and the design of hydraulic fracture treatments. He received numerous technical awards and other high honors in his profession, including Honorary Member of SPE, in recognition of his lifetime contributions. As a devoted Aggie, he was inducted into the Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor and recognized as a Distinguished Alumni by the Association of Former Students for his lifetime of service to Texas A&M.

“You will look back at your years at Texas A&M as one of the best periods in your life,” said Holditch. “Your classmates will be lifelong friends, so keep in touch with them and the university as your career takes you to various parts of the world. Always remember the Aggie Code of Honor.”