Texans established the Permanent University Fund in 1876 to support the University of Texas and Texas A&M University Systems, but it took 139 years for university regents to appoint the first CEO of UT's Office of Lands Administration, Midland.
Mark A. Houser, a petroleum engineer with 25 years of hands-on experience in running energy companies, was appointed CEO of the lands office. He is charged with improving revenue from oil and gas production leases on the 2.1 million acres of university-owned land in west Texas by maximizing production. “If this were a private company, it would be one of the largest mineral management companies in the world,” Mr. Houser said.
As such, Mr. Houser said he is building a development team of geologists and production engineers to “use more science” to better manage the mineral resources on university lands.
The Permanent University Fund is supported by revenue from oil and gas leases, but “where we really make money is on royalties from sales of oil and gas produced on university lands. We are focused on growing the cash flow to the permanent fund for the benefit of students,” Mr. Houser said.
As of Sept. 30, $17.2 billion was managed in the permanent fund by the University of Texas Investment Management Co., Austin. UTIMCO managed a total of $34.4 billion in endowment and operating funds as of Sept. 30 for the UT and A&M systems.