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Award-Winning Author and Aggie Loren Steffy to Present Public Lecture on Mitchell Institute and New Biography

2 years ago /

Award-winning author and Aggie Loren C. Steffy ’86, former Houston Chronicle business columnist and writer-at-large for Texas Monthly magazine, will visit Texas A&M University this week to deliver a free public lecture and sign copies of his latest book, a biography on 1940 Texas A&M distinguished petroleum engineering graduate, businessman and philanthropist George P. Mitchell.

In addition to his experiences in writing his book, “George P. Mitchell: Fracking, Sustainability, and an Unorthodox Quest to Save the Planet,” Steffy, a 1986 Texas A&M Journalism graduate, will discuss the origins of Texas A&M’s George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy as part of a 4 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 7) presentation in the Mitchell Institute’s Stephen W. Hawking Auditorium. Tickets are not required for the free event, which is sponsored by the Mitchell Institute and Department of Physics and Astronomy. Steffy is hosted by Texas A&M physicist Dr. Edward S. Fry, who served as head of Texas A&M Physics and Astronomy from 2002 to 2011 and holds the George P. Mitchell ’40 Chair in Experimental Physics.

Loren C. Steffy '86
Loren C. Steffy ’86 (Credit: Loren C. Steffy.)

Steffy’s lecture will be preceded by a 3:15 p.m. reception in the first-floor atrium area of the Mitchell Institute. Copies of his book, which is published by Texas A&M University Press, will be available for purchase on site.

In 2002, Mitchell made his first million-dollar gift intended to help transform Texas A&M into a world leader in fundamental physics anhttps://www.tamupress.com/d astronomy, founding his namesake institute. A decade later, he came full circle in that commitment, teaming with the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation to add a $20 million legacy gift to bolster the permanent endowment for the Mitchell Institute.

George P. Mitchell Book by Loren Steffy
George P. Mitchell: Fracking, Sustainability, and an Unorthodox Quest to Save the Planet by Loren C. Steffy (Credit: Loren C. Steffy)

“This institute will provide a major boost to their international recognition and promote the collaboration of some of the major scientists in the world,” Fry said back in 2002 in the institute’s founding announcement. “The results can be expected to provide insights into the cosmology of the universe and the ultimate unification of the fields of nature.”

Steffy’s book is billed as the first definitive biography of Mitchell, a Galveston native who Texas Monthly describes as best known for two things: developing The Woodlands, the master-planned community north of Houston, and helping create hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a. fracking, the method of gas well stimulation that has transformed the global energy industry. Chapter by chapter, Steffy weaves together a compelling story that places both Mitchell’s life and legacy in a global context while highlighting the significance of his accomplishments and the lingering controversies they inspired.

“As the son of immigrants, George’s story was quintessentially American,” states a Mitchell Foundation promotional brief. “Whether it was graduating first in his class at Texas A&M, developing The Woodlands as a master-planned new town, pioneering the technology that unleashed the shale gas boom, working to create a more sustainable planet, restoring the historic area of Galveston or just fishing with his family, he had the right mix of vision, optimism, tenacity and a love for his fellow man.”

In addition to writing for Texas Monthly, Steffy is a managing director for the communications firm 30 Point Strategies, where heads the 30 Point Press publishing imprint. For nine years, Steffy was the business columnist for the Houston Chronicle, and his writing has been published in newspapers and other publications nationwide. A four-time finalist for the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, he has appeared on CNBC, Fox Business, MSNBC, the BBC and the PBS NewsHour and is regular guest on local television and radio news programs in Houston.

Prior to joining the Chronicle, Steffy was the Dallas bureau chief and a senior writer for Bloomberg News for 12 years. He covered a variety of business topics in Texas and across the country, including the collapse of Enron. His reporting on the demise of Arthur Andersen was selected for the 2003 edition of the “Best Business Stories of the Year.” Before joining Bloomberg, Steffy worked at the Dallas Times Herald, the Dallas Business Journal and the Arlington Daily News.

During his college days at Texas A&M, Steffy served as editor of The Battalion. His father, J. Richard Steffy, was a pioneer in nautical archaeology and longtime Texas A&M professor who helped found the university’s Nautical Archaeology Program in 1976, retiring in 1990 as a Texas A&M professor emeritus.

To learn more about Steffy, visit https://www.lorensteffy.com.

Read more about Mitchell, from his visionary life and legacy to his Texas A&M ties and related philanthropic support, including the history behind his early involvement with Texas A&M Physics and Astronomy.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Edward S. Fry, (979) 845-1910 or fry@physics.tamu.edu