OU alumnus commits $1 million to Energy Management Program in honor of his mentor, teacher
Rod Roberts (left), with V. Ross Brown
University of Oklahoma alumnus Rod Roberts came back to his alma mater in September, where he renewed ties with his mentor V. Ross Brown and then surprised his former teacher by making a $1 million commitment to OU in Brown’s honor.
OU President David Boren announced Roberts’ gift to OU’s tradition-rich Energy Management program (formerly called Petroleum Land Management) at the OU Board of Regents meeting in Claremore. The gift will be used to create an endowment that will ensure that future generations of Energy Management students continue to have the opportunity to learn from industry professionals.
“It is always very special when our graduates give back in honor of a professor who made a meaningful difference in their lives,” said Boren. “The University is very grateful to Mr. Roberts for this extraordinary commitment to the Energy Management program and its students.”
Roberts, a 1974 petroleum land management graduate, is president of Lancer Resources Co. in Austin, Texas. He said he had the benefit of learning from Brown, an industry expert/adjunct professor who taught a petroleum land management class at OU from 1970 to 1982. Roberts wanted to acknowledge the positive and lasting impact that Brown has had on his professional career and in many other aspects of his life.
“In one of Ross’ talks, he outlined a potential career path and, when he said it, a chill went up my spine, and then the light went on for me,” Roberts said. “Ross advised, ‘Go to work for a major oil company, then work for an independent, and then start your own company.’ That’s exactly what I did, from Exxon to Patrick Petroleum, and then I started my own company, Lancer Resources, 26 years ago.”
Brown said, “No greater gift can a teacher have than to play a role in a student’s accomplishments. To be recognized in this extraordinary way by Rod is very moving for me, but it is also a tribute to all those landmen who have worked over the years to establish and continue to support our Energy Management Program.”
Steve Long, an OU graduate who now directs the Energy Management program after a 30-year career in the domestic and international oil and gas industry, noted that the V. Ross Brown Professor of the Industry Program endowment will greatly assist the program in recruiting outstanding industry experts to teach, advise and mentor Energy Management students. Core classes taught by industry experts include Oil, Gas and Environmental Law, Energy Production and Markets, Petroleum Geology, Petroleum Engineering, Natural Gas Marketing and Trading, and Practical Issues in Energy.
“Our students receive a first-rate, hands-on practical education that prepares them to be successful, well-trained professionals for the energy industry,” Long said. “Many companies have commented that a graduate from the OU program is equivalent to a two- to three-year hire from a major company with a full-fledged training program.”
Roberts said he was honored to speak to an Energy Management class during his OU visit. In a rough economy, Roberts was happy to hear many of the students share with him their job offers from such companies as Devon, Chesapeake, and ConocoPhillips.
The Energy Management program, created in 1958, is the first and largest of its kind in the nation and one of the premier programs in OU’s Price College. Its energy-focused curriculum is composed of classes in business, law, petroleum engineering, geology and meteorology.