Powells contribute $100,000 to College of Geosciences

Apr 18, 2016

Couple supports field camp experiences for geology and geophysics majors.

A love for travel, geology and Texas A&M University led Vivian and Tim Powell ’79 to make the first contribution toward a $5 million Field Camp Endowment the College of Geosciences hopes to fund over the course of the Lead by Example campaign.

The couple gave $100,000 to support undergraduate fieldwork, travel costs, equipment and program-activity expenditures associated with field camp, a required travel course for all undergraduates in the Department of Geology and Geophysics.

During the course, students spend two to six weeks in places like Big Bend, the Guadalupe Mountains, Colorado, New Mexico and Montana learning to map various geological aspects.

“Geology requires direct field observation to get the full understanding and scale of earth processes and history,” said Tim. “Field camp synthesizes many aspects of geologic training and allows students to apply their classroom learning to real-world practice.”

Fieldwork develops many skills in students, including the ability to observe the subtle aspects of geologic formations, structures and rock compositions. “These skills are important in recognizing patterns in geologic and geophysical interpretations throughout a geoscientist’s career,” said Tim. Students are also able to take clues from geologic formation outcrops to understand subsurface structure, paleo-depositional environments and past geologic history.

Ample funding is required to support field camp supplies, camping, lodging and transportation. The Powells hope their gift will enable more students to gain a quality field camp experience with the right tools and accommodations while keeping costs within reason.

Tim graduated with a degree in geology and retired from Devon Energy Co. in 2015 as vice president of exploration. He is currently president of Powell Xploration LLC, an oil and gas consulting company, and credits the College of Geosciences for giving him a head start and a strong foundation for a career in the oil and gas industry.

“The College of Geosciences is highly respected as a leader in oil and gas geology,” he said. “Throughout my career, I have maintained contact with geoscience professors and colleagues about academic projects at Texas A&M.”

Currently he is involved with the college’s advisory committee and is working with geoscience graduate students on the Imperial Barrel Award, an annual worldwide prospective basin evaluation competition.

Vivian is a retired hairdresser and spends much of her time scrapbooking and tending to grandkids. Their children Gary ’08 and Natalie ’05 graduated with degrees in construction science and biomedical science, respectively. During their free time, the couple enjoys traveling—another reason field camp resonates with them.

“By having a larger view of the world, you can sometimes better understand your own specific area,” Tim said. “I applied this philosophy to many projects throughout my geological exploration career. Large regional interpretations are extremely important to oil and gas prospecting.”

When completed, the $5 million field camp endowment will help the College of Geosciences maintain and increase the quality of tools and facilities available for the program.

By: April Romero ’16

To support field camp experiences in the College of Geosciences, contact Cara Milligan ’08, senior director of development, at cmilligan@txamfoundation.com or (979) 862-4944.