The two-page fax came hand-written, with an apology of sorts at the top.
“I’m just not much of a typist,” wrote David “Scotty” Holland in longhand. “Spoiled by too many years with a secretary.”
Holland, an active leader and long-time supporter of the AAPG Foundation, does things his way. And for more than half a century, they seem to have worked.
And what works for him is giving back, making a difference, funding worthwhile projects – but not, it seems, mastering cyber communications.
(Incidentally, he has an e-mail address, but his “secretary” doesn’t know what it is.)
Specifically, he was responding to questions about a revolutionary new high school in Abilene, Texas, that bears his name: The Holland Medical High School, a magnet school run by the community but located on the campus of Hardin-Simmons University.
“I’ve always believed,” he says, “that education is the only way a person can achieve the best within him or her.”
A wonderful sentiment for a man who has been supporting and promoting the teaching of science and education for the past 50 years – and a wonderful and bold plan for a city.
If you take the concept of the magnet high school, make it a place of specialized instruction and then get a university to loan out its resources, you’d get some idea about why Holland teamed up with his old high school and university.
“I graduated from Abilene High School,” Holland said, “at a time when my family hardly had an ability to give me a college education.”
Back then, before he served in the Korean War, Holland received a football scholarship from Hardin-Simmons University, and since then, he says, “I’ve always tried to give back.”
For its part, HSU saw the potential of increasing and enhancing its presence in the Abilene area. The result is Abilene’s first magnet school and first venture where a private university built a facility for a public school.
Phil Ashby, one of the Holland counselors and also program supervisor, believes that a key component of the school’s success is, in fact, that footprint.
“It doesn’t look like a high school.”
Holland agrees. “I like the idea of funding the high school through outside contributors” instead of state funding, he said.
More tellingly, he says it gives students a chance to reach beyond the general school curriculum to reach out with a desire to excel.
Holland has been a geologist of note, a corporate executive, industry leader and entrepreneur. Returning from Korea, he first finished his degree at the University of Texas at Austin, then went to work for Marathon Oil in Midland, Texas, before joining Pennzoil in the mid-1960s as a senior exploration geologist. Ultimately, he became president and chief executive officer of the Pennzoil Exploration and Production, and served as a group vice president of the Pennzoil Company until his retirement in 1990.
Presently, he is president of Holland Holding Inc., Holland Energy Inc. and Post Oak Petroleum, while also serving on the boards of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Geology Foundation of the University of Texas (Austin) and the AAPG Foundation.
In 1997 Holland and his wife, Jacque, established the Endowed Holland Geology Scholarship Fund; in 2000, they funded the major endowment for the Hardin-Simmons School of Science and Mathematics; and recently, their financial gift led to the Holland Award of Excellence at Hardin Simmons.
For the Holland school, they were instrumental in the funding of the $3.9-million dollar, 22,000 square-foot building that was constructed on the HSU campus.
When asked how much he actually gave, he laughed a little and said, “Oh, I don’t know. A lot.” (Funds also came in from the Dodge Jones Foundation, Mabee Foundation, Dian Graves Owen Foundation and Shelton Family Foundation.)
While the university maintains the facility, the Abilene Independent School District is responsible for the technology and staffing.
The school’s goal is to prepare and produce quality healthcare workers. Students can earn certificates and receive training as pharmacy, phlebotomy and emergency care technicians, as well as certified nurses aides.
Obviously, many of these students hope some day to become doctors, nurses, pharmacists and veterinarians – but the benefits are more immediate.
“There will be some students who take the certification tests and enter the work force,” Ashby said, “but most of our students earn the certificate to have good-paying jobs while they continue their high school education.”
Unlike other magnet schools where students attend full time, the Holland School is available for three periods of instruction each day, so students do not have to leave their home school.
In addition to regular health science technology courses, students are able to take advanced science and medical courses, like Anatomy and Physiology, Forensic Science: Code Blue (Microbiology), Forensic Science: C.S.I. (Pathophysiology); and Medical Terminology.
At the present time, there are approximately 200 students at the school, up from 54 in 2002-03. Next year, Ashby says the school will become an eleventh and twelfth grade campus because it can’t accommodate all the students who wish to attend.
The numbers are increasing because the results are.
During the 2007-08 terms, 23 Holland students began competing in the Health Occupation Students of America state conference championship. Moreover, recent graduates have gone on to Johns-Hopkins University, Baylor University and the honors program at Texas Tech University.
Former Hardin-Simmons University President Craig Turner, who says health care is an important future economic factor for Abilene, believes Holland Medical High School is a “win-win-win situation” for everyone involved, “because it supports the Abilene Independent School District, helps HSU attract more students and benefits Abilene’s health care community.”
Phil Ashby puts it another way.
“The program is exploding.”
Holland, though, wants to make something clear.
“My wife has been involved in everything I do. We have been a lucky pair.”
Now if he could just get her to type for him.