New Faculty Position Endowed by Denver Petroleum Geologist

Title: New Faculty Position Endowed by Denver Petroleum Geologist
Author: Laura L. Wray
Publication: The Outcrop, February 2002, p. 11

In the face of uncertain future energy supplies and the young scientists needed to discover and deliver them, a ray of hope shines on the horizon. A geologist in our own community, Paul Rady, has put money towards an effort to address these issues that concern those of us in the natural resource industries.

Paul has provided the seed money for an Endowed Chair in Petroleum Geology at his undergraduate Alma Mater, Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado. The announcement of this new faculty position was posted in the December, 2001, issues of the AAPG Explorer and the Oil and Gas Journal. ( , click Explorer, or, click “Classifieds”).

The Rady Chair in Petroleum Geology has a couple of interesting requirements:

  • Candidates must possess a Master’s degree or higher in geology (this opens up an opportunity for talented candidates who lack Ph.D. degrees).
  • Candidates should have extensive experience in the oil and gas industry, specifically with a major oil company and in the independent sector (this is critical for ensuring a relevant curriculum and the teaching of pertinent skills).
  • Candidates are required to have a strong relationship with the industry (this is imperative for creating job placement opportunities as well as industry-supported research projects for undergraduate students).

Paul Rady’s history is itself an inspirational success story. His life as a student at Western State College was a blend of academic interests and the economic reality of having to work odd jobs to finance his studies. The physical energy expended by planting trees for the Forest Service, bucking hay bales on a ranch along Ohio Creek, and working as a motel maid in some of Gunnison’s motels was renewed by the mental stimulation of his studies and by his introduction to the earth sciences. As a Physics Department lab assistant under Dr. Ted Violett, Paul had “his first big break — a job using my brain — and it came with an ‘office’ to match.” Paul goes on to admit that “it was only a desk in the Physics equipment closet, but in my own warped mind, I was now almost on par with the full professors!”

After getting his Master’s degree from Western Washington University in 1980, Paul spent ten years with Amoco Production Company in Denver. Using his experience there as a springboard, he went on to become the President and CEO first of Barrett Resources (now Williams Exploration) and then Pennaco (which was bought last year by Marathon Oil Company). His success can serve as an inspiration for the dedicated geoscience students that the petroleum industry needs to attract in the coming years.

As a loyal alumnus and supporter, Paul has been instrumental in chairing the Second Century Campaign for Western State College, raising the goal from $5 million to $10 million after reaching an impressive level of $7.3 million last October. Taking his role to a higher plane, he announced his $1 million gift for an endowed chair in petroleum geology in October.

Others in the petroleum industry have been equally as generous and many more need to be in the future if we are to reinvigorate geoscience studies. Too often, we bemoan the fact that enrollments are alarmingly low, that students are disillusioned with the extractive industries, and that the retirement rates will be so dramatically high in the next decade that there appear to be no possibilities for replacing the lost expertise and corporate memory. Paul Rady has made one significant step towards reversing these trends. In one small way, his gift has the potential to bolster enrollment in the petroleum sciences, provide students with a vision of how exciting and challenging a petroleum career can be, and facilitate the job opportunities that will necessarily unfold in the coming years.

We can contribute to filling the need for future geoscientists by continuing to mentor and motivate students, provide internship opportunities, create research ideas and financial support for them, and give generously of our time, expertise, and financial resources. Thank you to Paul and the others in our community who continue to light the way!