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Texas oilman donates $1 million to help kick-start OSU's petroleum engineering program

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Courson gift to create super chair within engineering college

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(STILLWATER, Okla. July 22, 2008) – Oklahoma State University announced today a $1 million gift from Harold and Joyce Courson of Perryton, Texas to create a faculty super chair dedicated to petroleum engineering.  Once fully matched dollar-for-dollar by T. Boone Pickens’ $100 million chair match commitment, as well as the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the gift will provide $4 million of impact in endowed funds.
The owner of Courson Oil and Gas, Harold studied at OSU (then Oklahoma A&M) in 1952 before leaving to help his uncle in the oil drilling business.   
“We sincerely appreciate Harold and Joyce Courson’s major commitment to OSU and this important area of study,” said OSU President Burns Hargis.  “The response from our alumni and friends has exceeded our wildest expectations.  Inspired by Boone Pickens’ astounding generosity, donors answered the call to make a lasting difference and open a new and exciting chapter at OSU.”  
In order to take full advantage of the state’s dollar-for-dollar match, and make the most significant impact on OSU academics, the Coursons made the gift prior to the July 1 change in the state’s endowed chair matching program.  This gift is part of the $66.8 million in endowed faculty gifts OSU announced recently.
The Harold Courson Chair in Petroleum Engineering will be housed in the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology.
“We’ve always been big fans of OSU and many of our family members have attended and graduated from the university,” said Harold.  “Yet, we never felt OSU did enough to educate kids about the oil and gas field.  But now there’s a need and a program to create the education, and we think this small contribution could make a difference somewhere down the road to the benefit of the industry.”

OSU’s College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology is developing the new interdisciplinary petroleum engineering program, which will include both instructional and research dimensions. A cornerstone of the program will be an undergraduate petroleum minor involving five courses designed for students in various fields of engineering.  The intent of the petroleum minor is to better prepare students who have committed early to enter the petroleum industry, as well as to encourage others.  Plans also call for the development of an interdisciplinary research program, along with companion M.S. and Ph.D. programs to prepare graduates for research and development careers in the industry.   
“The response to the development of our new interdisciplinary thrust in petroleum engineering has been overwhelming”, said Karl Reid, Dean of the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology.  “With this gift, and other very generous contributions from our alumni and friends, our focus in petroleum engineering has received a tremendous jump start and will soon be among the very best in the nation.”  
Endowed professorships and chairs are academic designations which provide support for faculty salary, graduate assistantships, equipment and research needs, as well as other support.  These endowed faculty positions allow a university to attract and retain the best and the brightest academic minds in the world.

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