Growing up, Steve and Kathy both discovered an interest in the physical world around them. Kathy was raised in Corpus Christi and describes herself as a beach girl, so her love for reefs and sedimentary rocks like sandstone and limestone is fitting. Steve, who grew up in Pennsylvania, was a bright student but found it easy to become bored at school. That changed when he took his first earth science class. The experience stuck with him.
When they became friends at UT, the two were pursuing degrees in geology — Kathy as an undergraduate and Steve as a graduate student. Steve had chosen UT over other schools because he could pursue his goals: studying coastal sedimentation and landing a job in oil and gas.
“UT checked both boxes,” said Steve. “I could study the oblique sand dunes on South Padre Island, and I would have the opportunity to meet with many recruiters. If you wanted to work in the petroleum industry, UT was the place to be.”
Kathy added, “I knew that UT had the biggest and most knowledgeable geology department in Texas, so for me there was nowhere else to even think about going to school. Plus, my family bleeds burnt orange.”
When Steve graduated in 1981, he landed a job as an exploration geologist with Exxon in Houston. Two years later, Kathy also joined Exxon as a geophysicist, but in a different office. Though the two had become friends at UT, in Houston they began dating and married three years later.
Steve and Kathy show their Jackson School pride with their “UTROKS” license plate. Photos: Sloan Breeden
“The Jackson School has always made us feel like family,” said Steve. “When we discussed where our gifts would go, there was never a thought about them going anywhere but to UT.”
Their gifts have created student scholarships and supported job-search training programs. They have also supported GeoFORCE, a K-12 outreach program designed to increase the number and diversity of students pursuing STEM degrees, especially geology. And recently, the Weiners established a planned gift to support their alma mater. But, as Steve shared, it’s not all about giving money.
“I volunteer as an earth science guest lecturer at area elementary schools,” he said. “After all, I was the same age when I heard the earth science lecture that changed my life. I love teaching. I love seeing the kids’ eyes light up as we talk about rivers, volcanoes, fossils, all kinds of things.”
Kathy added, “Education has always been really important to us. Sharing information about geology with younger kids in school lets them see what opportunities they could have if they major in geology.”
For Steve and Kathy, the sooner kids know about the world around them, the better.
“The Jackson School has always made us feel like family. When we discussed where our gifts would go, there was never a thought about them going anywhere but to UT.”
— Steve Weiner
Texas Leader Magazine
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