Huffington Department of Earth Sciences Professor Emeritus Brooks receives the AAPG’s Presidential Award for Exemplary Service

James Brooks, vice chair of the board of trustees for the Institute for the Study of Earth and Man.

James Brooks, vice chair of the board of trustees for the Institute for the Study of Earth and Man.

James E. Brooks, provost emeritus and professor emeritus in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences at SMU, has been recognized with one of the highest honors of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, AAPG.

Brooks has received the 2015 AAPG Presidential Award for Exemplary Service.

AAPG President Randi Martinsen bestowed the honor upon Brooks “for a lifetime of inspired and dedicated service to his profession and community, and for the education of hundreds of students for whom he has served as an outstanding teacher, wise mentor and genuine friend.”

The SMU AAPG Student Chapter presented Brooks with the AAPG Presidential Award for Exemplary Service at a ceremony May 4, 2015 in Heroy Hall on the SMU campus.

“Uncharacteristically, I have not prepared extensive remarks,” said Brooks, drawing laughter from the students, colleagues, family and friends on hand to celebrate with him. “I’m very, very appreciative. If you’ve spent your life in teaching, there’s something special about being appreciated by your students.”

Brooks reminded those gathered for the reception, “If you have any untoward stories about the honoree, just keep ’em to yourself.”

AAPG is the premier organization for U.S. petroleum geologists. It is one of the world’s largest professional geological societies with more than 36,000 members.

“You can’t help but be considerably humbled,” Brooks said of the award. “AAPG is a big, important organization on a worldwide basis. It only gives out one of these a year. Whether I merited it or not, I do appreciate it.”

An AAPG member, Brooks is an expert in North American and Middle Eastern stratigraphy and geomorphology. He’s been at SMU for 60 years as a professor, department chair, dean of the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, university provost, interim University president and as chairman of the Institute for the Study of Earth and Man (ISEM) in SMU’s Department of Earth Sciences.

Brooks was 26 when he started on the faculty at SMU, and ended staying his entire career.

“There was more opportunity and more fun here than at other jobs,” Brooks said. “This was a place you could make things happen. The University wasn’t locked into a set pattern. You had an opportunity to shape the future.”

Officially retired, he remains on the department staff in various roles, including as president emeritus and vice chair of the board of trustees for ISEM.

“He is a beloved teacher, mentor, role model, counselor and principal professor of dozens of M.S. theses and Ph.D. dissertations,” said former AAPG President James Gibbs. “He has been very supportive of petroleum geology science and business.”

In announcing the award, the AAPG commended Brooks — an AAPG member — for his inspired and dedicated service to his profession, community and students.

“I’ve known Jim for 40 years, and he is a man whose character, accomplishments and modesty I greatly admire,” said past AAPG president Marlan W. Downey.

“An extraordinary number of distinguished people have passed under Jim’s wings at SMU and ISEM in Dallas and have been influenced by him,” Downey said. “Jim is one of the ‘good guys.’”

Among the many awards recognizing Brooks for his service to the field of geology, in 1966 he was named a Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Fellows are cited for distinguished contributions to their field that advance science or its application. AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers. — AAPG and SMU

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