LSU Mourns the Loss of Petroleum Engineering Chairman Murray F. Hawkins Jr.

03/21/2013 02:21 PM

BATON ROUGE – The LSU community lost one of its most dedicated educators when alumnus and professor emeritus Murray Free Hawkins Jr., passed away March 7. He was 95.


Hawkins joined LSU’s Department of Petroleum Engineering faculty in 1946, beginning a life-long career and dedication to higher education. In 1964, Hawkins was appointed chairman of the department, a post he held until his retirement in 1977 as professor emeritus.


During his more than 30 years with the College of Engineering, Hawkins had a deep and lasting influence on hundreds of LSU students – men and women who today hold posts of importance throughout the world in petroleum and petroleum-related industries. He also played a significant role in developing the LSU Department of Petroleum Engineering into one of the leading departments in the world. In 1998, LSU alumni were instrumental in officially naming the department that he helped develop the “Craft and Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering.”


Hawkins is survived by his wife of 70 years, Julia Welles Hawkins; and his children: Lad Hawkins and wife Mindy of Jacksonville, Fla., Warren Hawkins and wife Betty of Houston, Texas, and Asheville, N.C.; Margaret Hawkins Matens and husband Jack of Sewanee, Tenn.; and Julia (Jugie) Hawkins Battle of Sunset, La.; grandchildren: Morgan Matens of Nashville, Tenn., Murray Matens Kimball and husband Bryan of Chicago, Ill., and Cooper Battle and wife Loxley of New Orleans, La. He is also survived by his twin sister, Charlotte Hawkins Fremaux, of Washington, D.C.


Hawkins donated his body to the LSU Medical School. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Condolence messages may be sent to In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be made to either the LSU Foundation in support of the “Equipment Fund (Account 101737) of the Craft and Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering,” or the “LSU Hilltop Arboretum” in Baton Rouge.


“Murray Hawkins, known as the father of LSU’s contemporary petroleum engineering program, left an indelible mark on all of those privileged to learn from him,” said Rick Koubek, dean of the LSU College of Engineering. “His legacy will continue to permeate the LSU engineering experience for many years to come.”


Hawkins earned great respect and many honors, both as an engineer and as an educator. Born in 1917 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Hawkins received a B.S. in chemistry (1938) and a M.S. in physics (1940), both from LSU. He worked for the Carter Oil Company research laboratories before serving in the South Pacific as an officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was on duty in a small boat in the harbor when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Shortly after, he and Julia were married by telephone, with Hawkins in Pearl Harbor and Julia in Ponchatoula, La. After the war, he joined the research and development department of Ethyl Corporation.


Hawkins was a member of a number of professional and honorary organizations and the author of numerous technical publications. His best-known work is the world-renowned textbook. “Applied Petroleum Reservoir Engineering,” co-authored with his friend and mentor B.C. Craft Sr. This textbook has been continuously in print and widely used for more than 50 years. It has been translated into many languages, including Spanish, Russian and Chinese, to serve the petroleum industry. The publisher, Prentice-Hall Inc., noted that, “such a record of success is exceedingly rare in the publishing business.” The book is currently being revised and updated in order to serve many future generations of engineering students.


“Since joining the department, I have had the opportunity to meet many alumni that graduated during Professor Hawkins’ time,” said Karsten Thompson, chair of the Craft and Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering. Without fail, they want me to understand the personal impact that he had on their lives and careers, and the connection they feel to LSU as a result.”


Hawkins served many roles including: director of and instructor at LSU’s geology field camp in Colorado; oil and gas consultant to the LSU Board of Supervisors; Distinguished Lecturer for the Society of Petroleum Engineers; principal investigator for a major ERDA, now the U.S. Department of Energy, study of the geopressured/geothermal energy resources of Louisiana; member of panels commissioned by the President of the United States, the Secretary of the Interior and the National Research Council; and in a number of positions dealing with accreditation of schools, including 10 years as inspector of petroleum engineering curricula for accreditation by the Engineers’ Council for Professional Development, now the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.


He was the recipient of many awards and honors during his career including the Halliburton Award for Teaching Excellence, the 1976 Mineral Industry Education Medal, the 1979 John Franklin Carl Award and the 1980 Lester C. Uren Award. He was named an LSU Alumni Distinguished Faculty Fellow, the LSU Foundation Campanile Charities Professor, Distinguished Member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and was inducted into the LSU Engineering Hall of Distinction in 1985.


For more about LSU’s Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering, visit

Mimi  LaValle 
Department of Physics & Astronomy

Posted on Thursday, March 21, 2013