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University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering

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Remembering Proud UH Engineer William C. Miller, Jr.

By: 

Laurie Fickman
Always a proud Cougar, William C. Miller, Jr. shows off his UH ring
Always a proud Cougar, William C. Miller, Jr. shows off his UH ring

UH alumnus and prominent South Texas oilman William C. Miller, Jr. (1955 BSPE) died April 16, 2017. He was 94.

Miller was a lifelong supporter of the UH Cullen College of Engineering. In 2004 he received the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award and in 2012 he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the UH Engineering Alumni Association. His family said he was inspired at UH by Professor Charles V. Kirkpatrick, the second dean of the Cullen College, to study petroleum engineering. In 2008 Bill honored his mentor by donating $1 million to establish the William C. Miller Endowed Chair in honor of Charles V. Kirkpatrick at the UH Cullen College, a position currently held by Mohamed Soliman, chair of the department of petroleum.

“I want to share my gratitude for Dr. Miller and his generous gift, which makes it possible for me to support students performing cutting-edge research in petroleum engineering,” said Soliman.

Farm hand to roughneck and beyond

Miller grew up on his family’s farm in Freestone County, a couple hours north of Houston, where he tended mules and tilled the land, readying it for corn and cotton harvesting. He often credited his hard-working upbringing for the grit it took him to succeed as an independent oil producer and his UH education for taking him from roughneck to executive.

After army service in World War II, Miller attended the University of Houston, graduating with a degree in petroleum engineering. With several years of corporate experience under his belt, he formed the San Antonio-based W.C. Miller Operating Company, which has successfully explored for oil and gas in South Texas for 50 years.

Miller is survived by his wife, two children and two grandchildren.

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