William T. Smith (BS ’47, MS ’48) of Fort Worth Texas has made a gift of $2.6M to the Department of Earth and Environmental Studies, to endow a faculty position in honor of Professor Emeritus Henry N. Pollack and to endow the Department’s weekly visiting lecture series, to be called the William T. Smith Lectures in Earth and Environmental Studies.
Bill Smith, a native of Kalamazoo, enrolled at U-M in the 1940s, but his studies were interrupted for military service in World War II. After the war he returned to Ann Arbor to complete his undergraduate and graduate degrees. After graduating he joined Stanolind Oil & Gas Company, the exploration and production subsidiary of Standard Oil of Indiana (later known as Amoco). In 27 years at Stanolind he advanced through a number of exploration and management positions to become the Executive Vice President of Amoco Production Company.
In 1975 Bill joined Champlin Petroleum, a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Corporation, and became Chairman of Champlin in 1982. He served on Champlin’s Board of Directors until 1987. At that time he was also Vice Chairman and Director of Union Pacific. During this time with Union Pacific Bill was instrumental in securing a substantial grant for the Department from the Union Pacific Foundation. Following Bill’s retirement from Champlin in 1987, his first “retirement”, he started his own enterprise, appropriately called Wolverine Exploration Company, which he led as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer until his second retirement in early 1992.
Bill served as Chairman of the Natural Gas Supply Association, whose members account for almost 90 percent of all domestic natural gas supplies. He is also the past National Chairman of the 8,500 member Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association, and a Director of the American Petroleum Institute (API). At the API he served as a member of the Committee on Public Issues, and as chairman of its Major Issues Task Force on Land Use. Bill also has served as a member of the Texas Energy Advisory Council and the National Petroleum Council, and is a former Director of Tandy Corporation and of First Republic Bank Corporation.
Bill Smith’s formal ties to U-M’s Earth and Environmental Studies Department were renewed in 1982 when he was asked to serve on the Department’s first Alumni Advisory Board. His participation on the Board in its early formative years, from 1982-88, set a firm foundation for the later activities of this Board in guiding the Department up to the present day. Bill has continued to play an important advisory role in the years subsequent to his time on the Board.
Henry Pollack, for whom the endowed chair is named, has been on the Earth and Environmental Studies faculty since 1962. He has taught at every level of the curriculum, from introductory undergraduate courses to specialized graduate seminars, both on campus and in the field. His principal research efforts have for many years addressed the Earth’s internal heat, and William T. Smith Endows Chair and Lectures how Earth has cooled over its long history. This work included field measurements of rock temperatures in North and South America, and Africa. Over the past decade he has examined subsurface temperatures from around the globe for evidence of climate change. Henry has served as Chair of the Department, as Associate Dean for Research in LS&A, and on several National Science Foundation advisory panels and American Geophysical Union committees. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Geological Society of America. In Earth and Environmental Studies Henry spearheaded the development of the Department’s alumni relations program, including publication of the semi-annual Geoscience News and the establishment of an Alumni Advisory Board.