Sculpture of founding donor of OU Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy was dedicated Sept. 1 in a ceremony at OU’s Sarkeys Energy Center
A bronze sculpture of Curtis Mewbourne of Tyler, Texas, a 1958 University of Oklahoma petroleum engineering graduate and founding donor of OU’s Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, was unveiled and dedicated in a public ceremony on Sept. 1 in the Brian and Sandra O’Brien Plaza at Sarkeys Energy Center.
The sculpture of Mewbourne, which was cast by Shidoni Foundry of Santa Fe, N.M., is the work of OU sculptor-in-residence and noted artist Paul Moore, a native Oklahoman who has more than 100 commissions to his credit. Moore said that at Mewbourne’s request, he did not sculpt him in a suit, but rather in khaki pants and shirt and work boots, with his favorite dog, Rebel, at his side. Moore also sculpted the Seed Sower sculptures, located on each of the university’s three campuses, as well as the figures of OU President George Lynn Cross and of Carl Albert, the 46th Speaker of the House, both located on the OU Norman campus.
OU President David L. Boren said, “Curtis Mewbourne is one of the most generous donors to the University of Oklahoma in its entire history. In addition to his personal funds, he has given his energy and vision to the goal of creating energy programs at OU, which will continue to be second to none in the nation.”
Mewbourne founded Mewbourne Oil Co. – which is one of the most active exploration and production companies in the Anadarko and Permian basins – in 1965 with his last regular paycheck. The company stands alone as the largest supporter of engineering student scholarships and internships during the past 25 years. Mr. Mewbourne has been joined in his gifts by his wife, Joanne, who is his lifelong partner in philanthropy.
A life member of the OU Alumni Association, Mewbourne is a longtime friend and supporter of the university, and in particular, OU’s energy-related programs and the students in those programs. In 1982, he endowed a professorship in petroleum engineering at OU; it was the first endowed position for both the school and the College of Engineering.
In 1992, Mewbourne endowed four chairs in petroleum engineering, along with funds to benefit undergraduate students and support faculty teaching excellence and a leadership scholars fund that provides annual scholarships for entering freshmen.
His dedication, service and generosity prompted OU Regents in 2000 to name the School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering in his honor. When the College of Earth and Energy was formed on Jan. 1, 2006, bringing together the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering and what would become the ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics, he quickly stepped up to be an alumni leader and generous supporter of the new college. In October 2007, OU Regents voted to name the college for him.
In 2006, Mewbourne issued a challenge: he would match gifts, dollar for dollar, made by his fellow OU alumni and college supporters to endowed scholarships or graduate fellowships in the College of Earth and Energy. By the time the match period ended on March 31, 2008, he had matched some 1,360 gifts totaling more than $5.1 million. When other corporate and annual gifts that fell outside the match criteria were included, the total raised for the college’s scholarships and fellowships was more than $14.5 million.
Mewbourne also is chairman of Mewbourne College’s five-year Capital Campaign, launched in 2006, which has already exceeded its goal of $80 million. Proceeds from the campaign are directed toward fellowship and scholarship endowments; faculty endowments; facilities and resources; and enrichment endowments for students, faculty research and the Youngblood Energy Library in Sarkeys Energy Center.
Mewbourne also is a founder of the Sarkeys Energy Center and a former trustee of the OU Foundation.
In 2002, he was recognized for his many contributions to the university with OU’s highest honor, the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.