Barnett Shale leads to doubled enrollment in land practices program

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    A rising demand for land professionals has caused enrollment in TCU’s petroleum land practices program to double since last fall, a Neeley School of Business official said.

    Marcia Ivey, assistant director of executive development at the Tandy Center for Executive Leadership, said the program was prompted by interest in the Barnett Shale, a large natural gas reserve encompassing more than 5,000 square miles and covering at least 17 counties in North Texas.

    “We realized there was a need for people to be trained in the area of land practices, and we wanted to try and meet that market need by giving this program,” Ivey said.

    The nondegree certificate program, created by the TCU Energy Institute in partnership with the Neeley School, debuted last fall with 15 students, and so far 30 people have enrolled for this fall, Ivey said.

    John Baum, director of the program, said the program’s curriculum targets students who already have undergraduate degrees in an energy-related field or people with extensive experience in the energy industry.

    “We like to have people with degrees, but it doesn’t have to be in geology,” Baum said.

    There are 40 seats in the fall class, Baum said.

    Ken Morgan , director of the TCU Energy Institute, said he expects the class to reach full enrollment.

    “There’s a great need for the training because the state of Texas has doesn’t have any requirements or tests for being a land professional. We hope that our PLP experience will help land professionals meet state requirements should that ever be mandated,” Morgan said.

    The 55-hour program touches vital fundamentals in the energy industry such as technical, legal and ethical issues that affect land professionals. The program also requires a field trip to a gas drilling site and the Tarrant County Courthouse, which Morgan said will help students have a better understanding of the responsibilities and activities of land professionals.

    Baum and Morgan teach courses in the program along with other faculty members, including Provost Nowell Donovan.

    Baum said the program does not guarantee a job upon completion, but it does work with graduates to help them find employment.

    “We are finding that people are having good luck finding jobs,” Baum said.

    The Energy Institute and the Neeley School also offer customized programs for energy companies such as Holland Acquisitions, a land management company based in Fort Worth, which participated in the customized program.

    “We meet with the company to discuss the goals they have for the knowledge of their employees, then we show them our existing curriculum and we ask them for ways that they would like for it to be altered, and we work with each instructor to make sure it happens,” Ivey said.