Cockrell School of Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin

Robert Parker

Robert L. Parker, Sr. graduated in 1944 with a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He became very involved in the life of the Cockrell School of Engineering about 10 years after his graduation. In 1957, he was a founder of the Engineering Advisory Board (then called Engineering Foundation Advisory Council) under the leadership of Dean John McKetta, and has served on the board ever since, under Deans Earnest Gloyna, Herb Woodson, Ben Streetman and now Greg Fenves. Bob is also a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin (1979), and a Distinguished Engineering Graduate of the Cockrell School (1969).

After serving as an officer in the U.S. Army in Germany, Bob joined Parker Drilling in 1947, and 10 years later purchased the company from the founder and his father, Gifford C. Parker. Serving as president since 1954, Bob took the company public in 1969 and was elected chairman and CEO. Since 2006, he has retained the position of chairman emeritus. During his distinguished 63-year career, Bob’s leadership and vision played a major role in transforming the company from a small U.S. land drilling contractor to one that has operated in 52 countries.

In the mid-1960s, Parker Drilling was one of the first contractors to build deep-drilling rigs in the U.S., and was a pioneer in the construction of helicopter rigs capable of operating in remote, jungle locations and the development of Arctic drilling techniques on the North Slope of Alaska.

Parker Drilling’s reach into international markets expanded rapidly in the 1980s and 1990s, and the company became the first western drilling contractor to be awarded contracts in China (1980), Russia (1991) and Kazakhstan (1993).

Bob has been the recipient of numerous industry recognitions and awards throughout his career, including the U.S. Secretary of Energy’s Distinguished Service Medal (1981), Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement from the American Petroleum Institute (1999), the Waggener-Griffin Award from Spindletop International (2001), and was inducted into the Petroleum Hall of Fame (2007). He serves on the board of directors of Clayton Williams Energy, is an advisory director of Bank of Oklahoma, Tulsa, and is the chairman of the U.S.-Kazakhstan Business Association.

Bob is involved with numerous civic and philanthropic organizations. He has served as chairman of the board for The University of Tulsa, Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, First United Methodist Church in Tulsa, and Thomas Gilcrease Museum Association. He received the God & Service Award from that National Boy Scouts of America (2001). He is also a member of the National Skeet Shooting Hall of Fame after winning the World’s Open Skeet Championship
in 1940.

Bob has one son, Bobby Parker, Jr., who is now Chairman of Parker Drilling, two daughters, Carol and Debra, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Contact Catherine Campbell at 512-471-3208