Western's Newest Emphasis: Professional Land and Resource Management
June 10, 2008 -- The newest emphasis at Western, Professional Land and Resource Management (PLRM), began with its first course this spring.
Eighteen students took Fundamentals of PLRM, which was taught by Dr. Rick Mayer.
Mayer is a 1972 graduate of Western, who worked in the oil and gas industry for thirty-three years. In the Fundamentals class the focus is an overview of all the different aspects of the oil, gas and mining environments. Alternative energies such as wind, geothermal and wave are also covered. Mayer believes that this program will highly benefit those entering these fields and says, “I wish I had a program like this when I was in school.”
In addition to Business Administration (BUAD) courses, the emphasis requires several Geology courses, an Economics course, and also an Environmental Studies course.
Ed Grauke is the Moncrief Chair and Director of the PLRM program. He has worked in oil and gas since the late seventies, ranging from doing land and legal work with a major oil and gas company to working as the chief of the land use division for the city of Houston, Texas. He sees the field of PLRM as one with drastically changing demographics. “Within five years 50-60% of the landmen in the energy industry will be retiring. The industry needs to find qualified people to replace those who will retire.”
Functionally, a landman is the company representative interfacing with the public, regulatory agencies, and landowners. Grauke estimates that 80-85% of PLRM graduates will enter the field as a company landmen, while others have opportunities with various local, state, and federal energy agencies. The starting salary for a landman is $70,000 and up.
Erin Nelson, a junior, plans to be a landman when she graduates. Nelson is a double major in BUAD and Psychology. She has worked for Williams Production, an exploration and extraction company in Denver for six years. Nelson, was already studying here as a Psychology student when her mother Sandra Nelson, who also works for Williams Production, discovered through Landman Magazine that Western was starting a PLRM emphasis. For Nelson it was perfect timing to add the emphasis to her studies.
Western is the only college in Colorado that offers a PLRM emphasis. And, it is the only program in the country with the emphasis in a business department. Grauke adds, “This will make our graduates well rounded employees.”
Graduates will not only work as landmen in the petroleum industry. “There’s a broad range of options,” Grauke says. “Graduates will have opportunities to work in hard rock mining, forestry and as environmental inspectors. With the business, legal, environmental and regulatory education gained in the PLRM program a graduate could easily go into real estate development.”
Grauke mentions that alternative energy is increasing in demand, “There is a need for alternatives to products that emit large amounts of carbon. Though I don’t know why they call it alternative energy,” he adds.
Among the land based “alternative” energy sources are: wind, geothermal, solar, nuclear, and biofuels.
President Jay Helman also sees that the PLRM program will benefit Western, and views the program as, “one that will meet important energy and economic needs. Graduates will be people in the industry that have been exposed to a large field of issues.”
Grauke adds, “Students in this field will graduate with an appreciation of the various energy resources and the fundamental relationships that need to be fostered in making sustainable use of our nation’s resources.”
Story by: Luke Mehall, assistant director of public relations