William E. Gipson, longtime supporter of the AAPG Foundation and former chair of the AAPG Foundation Trustees, has been named recipient of this year’s L. Austin Weeks Memorial Medal.
Gipson, an AAPG Honorary member and Foundation Trustee Emeritus, will receive the award during the opening session of this year’s AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, set June 19-22 in Calgary, Canada.
The award, presented annually for extraordinary philanthropy and service to the AAPG Foundation, honors the late L. Austin Weeks, whose philanthropic legacy sets an exemplary standard.
It is the Foundation’s highest award.
Gipson’s philanthropy and service to the Foundation began in 1974, with his first gift to the Foundation.
In 1977, Gipson joined a small group of donors who became the Founding Members of the Trustee Associates, the Foundation’s major donor group. They formed:
- To raise money to permit the Foundation to pursue its goals and objectives.
- To recognize individuals who provide substantial financial support.
- To serve as an advisory body offering advice and counsel to the Foundation Board of Trustees.
Gipson, a University of Texas at Austin graduate, served as the group’s vice chair in 1988 and chair in 1990.
In 1996, Gipson was appointed a Member of the Corporation, and in 2006 was elected as a Trustee – a position he held for 16 years. As a Trustee he served as treasurer and as chairman to the Foundation Audit Committee.
Gipson also played a key role as team leader in the Foundation’s 2006 “Meeting Challenges … Assuring Success” capital campaign, which over a six-year period raised more than $35 million.
Gipson’s philanthropic legacy has provided support for a variety of Foundation programs over the years, including the Treatise Petroleum Geology and Tectonic Map programs; support for building funds for the Weeks and Pratt Towers; and the Distinguished Lecture and Grants-in-Aid programs.
In 2008, Gipson established the William E. Gipson Named Grant as part of the Foundations Grants-in-Aid program – a lasting tribute to his character that will provide annual grants to graduate students for years to come.
L. Austin Weeks is the namesake for the Foundation’s highest honor, as well as one of the Foundation’s most vital programs for geoscience education.
Long heralded as a pioneer of petroleum geology, Weeks made a name for himself not only in the field, but as a generous benefactor who paid his success forward.
Weeks and his wife Marta made a significant contribution to the Foundation in the late ‘90s that would go on to support thousands of students in their pursuit of geoscience education.
The gift paved the way for aspiring geologists to take field trips, attend geology conferences, and apply funds toward tuition costs and the purchase of rock hammers, compasses and more.
The L. Austin Weeks Undergraduate Grant program, initially earmarked for student chapters, expanded in 2014 to provide aid to more individual students and their student-led geoscience associations.
This expansion has drummed up a significant amount of interest over the past couple of years, and has opened a new channel for students who had not previously been exposed to AAPG to learn about the benefits the Association can provide.
It generated so much interest, in fact, that the Foundation went on to form an official committee of judges who would be able to take on the tasks and lengthy process associated with reviewing, scoring and selecting top applicants each year.
Be sure to read next month’s Foundation Update for a full report on that committee and on the grant program itself.