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Saudi Aramco President Named Texas A&M Outstanding International Alumnus

Khalid A. Al-Falih, leader of the world’s largest petroleum company, has been selected as the recipient of the 2010 Texas A&M University Outstanding International Alumnus Award.
By Kelli Levey and Linda Edwards, Texas A&M News & Information Services February 10, 2010

Khalid A. Al-Falih,
Khalid A. Al-Falih

Khalid A. Al-Falih, leader of the world’s largest petroleum company, has been selected as the recipient of the 2010 Texas A&M University Outstanding International Alumnus Award, to be presented March 10 at the Clayton W. Williams, Jr., Alumni Center at Texas A&M.

Texas A&M Interim President R. Bowen Loftin said the selection of Al-Falih for one of the university’s most prestigious awards serves as recognition of the contributions of the tens of thousands of international former students around the world who represent Texas A&M so well and as an inspiration for the more than 4,500 international students currently enrolled.

“Mr. Al-Falih is a great example of what is possible with a Texas A&M degree for all of our students, and especially our international students,” Loftin said. “Both his commitment and loyalty to Texas A&M are remarkable. We appreciate all that he has done for this university and for his ongoing legacy on behalf of our current and former students, as well as future generations of Aggies.”

Al-Falih graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1982. His professional path has led to his current position as president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, where he oversees the company’s management of the world’s largest proven conventional oil reserves and the fourth-largest gas reserves. Al-Falih’s road to leadership began as an Aramco-sponsored student at Texas A&M and resulted in a three-decade immersion in every operational arena of the company that sponsored him.

“Texas A&M has a long history of partnership with Saudi Aramco, including knowledge transfer between faculty and employees, sponsored graduate students, programmatic and scholarship contributions and joint research, not to mention the number of graduates that have been employed by the company,” said Karan Watson, interim provost and executive vice president for academics. “It is fitting that we now recognize one of our Aggie engineers who is key to this partnership and who embodies the global reach and quality of the academic experience at Texas A&M.”

Recently, Saudi Aramco was asked by the custodian of the two holy mosques, King Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz, to develop the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). For his leadership in this undertaking, Al-Falih was decorated with the “King Abdulaziz Order of Excellent Class” at the opening of the university in 2009. Texas A&M University is one of four international institutions selected to collaborate with KAUST in developing solutions to global and domestic technological challenges. The Institute for Applied Mathematics and Computational Science (IAMCS) will stimulate collaborative research and graduate education between Texas A&M and KAUST where Al-Falih serves as a trustee. Al-Falih also serves on a number of other boards and councils of educational institutions within the kingdom.

“Mr. Al-Falih is a wonderful example of an alumnus who remains in contact with his university and college,” said G. Kemble Bennett, Vice Chancellor and dean of the Dwight Look College of Engineering. “We appreciate this quality in Khalid and are grateful for the many ways he has enhanced engineering education at Texas A&M.”

Al-Falih’s commitments at the local and regional levels to support education, professional development, entrepreneurship and empowerment of women in business, as well as philanthropic activities on behalf of the poor and victims of disaster, have been noticed both in the U.S. and abroad. Last year the City of Houston proclaimed May 1 “Khalid Al-Falih Day,” acknowledging him as “an outstanding global citizen with long-standing ties to the City of Houston and the State of Texas.”

Porter Garner, president and chief executive officer of The Association of Former Students, said that since the award’s inception in 1995, the idea has always been to acknowledge that international students are a catalyst for Texas A&M’s global development and continued prosperity.

“Khalid is an outstanding example of the impact that Aggies can have on Texas A&M University and our entire world, regardless of where they reside,” Garner said. “We are fortunate that he is a significant part of our worldwide Aggie Network.”

A loyal Aggie, Al-Falih is quick to note the relevance of his Texas A&M experience to his professional and personal achievements on the global stage.

“My years at Texas A&M not only provided me with a firm technical foundation for my professional career, but also reinforced many of the values which guide me in my life to this day. Integrity and hard work are core to being an Aggie and the value of self-development and lifelong learning are all integral to A&M,” Al-Falih said. “Furthermore, my experiences as a young international student at the university helped to shape my attitudes and perspectives on collaboration and partnership within our global community.”

In addition, Al-Falih generously supports the university’s educational mission through scholarships, chairs and other gifts and grants, including the Harold J. Haynes Dean’s Chair in Engineering.

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