In an earlier post about Promised Land (2012), I noted that there was a University of Texas pennant on the wall in a way that is reminiscent of Written on the Wind (1956). Rock Hudson’s character in the latter presumably earned his geology degree at UT, whereas the landman’s son in Promised Land presumably intends to go to college at UT. In Giant (1956), James Dean’s character (another Texas oilman) is celebrated at a gala during which the audience triumphantly belts out The Eyes of Texas, UT’s school song.
As my alma mater and professional home, seeing the The University of Texas in movies makes me proud, but are the repeated references in oil and gas movies fitting?
UT, founded with a land grant, owns millions of acres of land that happen to be rich in oil and gas. That means UT has been able to gain practical production experience without having to go beyond its own property. This mineral abundance has also translated into financial wealth (UT’s endowment is the third-largest in the nation, trailing only Harvard and Yale), enabling it to become a leading research institution, especially on energy.
In fact, ever since UT first struck oil in 1923, it has established an excellent international reputation in related fields of engineering (petroleum, chemical, mechanical, civil) and sciences (chemistry, geological). This expertise, and its connections as the flagship university in an oil and gas state, have translated into UT serving as a pipeline of talent to the energy industry. I remember hearing once from a friend at ExxonMobil that they hire more new employees from UT than from any other university or institution (by the way, I’ve never fact-checked that claim). And, it’s not just new hires that are from UT. It’s the executives, too. Rex Tillerson (CEO of ExxonMobil), Marvin Odum (President of Shell), and Jim Mulva (former CEO of ConocoPhillips) are all UT alumni.
So it seems the movies got this element correct!
Hook ‘em Horns.