IOGA Offering Leadership Academy to Educators and High School Students

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Tom Dunn '64

The Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia (IOGA) announced the founding of the Tom Dunn Energy and Leadership Academy to honor the memory of one of its pioneer members and industry leaders, long-time Buckhannon resident and local businessman Thomas B. Dunn, a 1964 graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College (WVWC) and a former Trustee of the college, at its Membership Banquet on Tuesday, August 7, 2012, which concluded its 37th annual Summer Meeting.

In announcing this new initiative, IOGA President Dennis Xander ‘75 said that the first session of the Academy would be at West Virginia Wesleyan College July 9-11, in conjunction with IOGA’s sixth Annual West Virginia Oil & Gas Equipment Show.

“Starting this Fall, the Academy will be soliciting applications from every high school, public and private, across West Virginia, seeking science teachers who want to participate,” Xander said.  “Forty teachers will be selected, and those teachers will be asked to select two of their best and brightest students. We hope to have 40 teachers and 80 students.”

Dunn was a past President of IOGA, a recipient of IOGAWV’s “Gunslinger” Award and was West Virginia’s Oil and Gas Man of the Year in 1982. He was actively involved in IOGA for more than 45 years, until his untimely passing in April of this year. His leadership in the early 1970s had a profound impact on the growth and development of the association.  He was also an active member in oil and gas associations in several other Appalachian Basin states, and on the national level with the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA).

The Academy will be aimed at students entering their junior or senior years.

There will be no costs to the participants for tuition, lodging or meals. Those attending will stay on the campus of WVWC, at the expense of the Academy.

“All they have to do is get to Buckhannon,” Xander said. “The Academy will cover all of the costs. That is how Tom Dunn would have wanted it.”

Funding for the Academy will come from donations from the energy industry, and from the many friends of Tom Dunn. “IOGA has had a number of calls from people that wanted to do something to honor and memorialize Tom,” Xander said. “The Tom Dunn Energy and Leadership Academy is designed to do just that.”

On the first day, students and teachers will be segregated. Teachers will be provided with teaching materials and lesson plans to take back to their classrooms. They will participate in an interactive “Teach the Teacher” forum, where they will learn how to use the materials effectively in their respective classrooms.  Students will attend an “Energy Career Day,” where they will learn about employment opportunities in the energy sector ranging from engineering and geology, to welding, truck driving and accounting.

“We want the teachers and students to leave knowing that the energy industry provides a wide range of good paying jobs right here at home,” Xander said. “We want to help them prepare to fill those jobs with local people. They need to understand what skills are required and how they can acquire those skills.”

On the second day, the teachers and students will have the opportunity to observe in the field much of what they were shown in the classroom. Buckhannon and WVWC offer easy access to various energy companies operating in West Virginia.

“Within about 10 miles of Buckhannon, we should be able to show students drilling rigs, producing wells and coal mines, and visit various companies that service our energy industry,” Xander said. “We think a day of field trips, following the previous day of classroom experience, will really help students and teachers understand more about the energy industry”.

On the final day, IOGA’s sixth Annual West Virginia Oil & Gas Equipment Show will be in full swing, and teachers and students will have the opportunity to take in the entire show, visit all of the exhibits and interact with industry employees, including the exhibitors and industry personnel that visit the show to see new innovations in oilfield equipment and services.

L-r: Grant, Carson, Mark and Tracy Dunn Cunningham, Carol Dunn '63, Jennifer Dunn Fluke and Eric Fluke '94, Dennis Xander '75 and John Haskins '76.

“Tom Dunn understood the energy business in West Virginia. His company, Union Drilling, employed hundreds of people during the years he ran it,” Xander said. “He knew how important properly trained people are to the industry, and the consequences of not having those people. Tom loved Buckhannon, and chose to raise his family here. He also loved Wesleyan, and served the college as a Trustee for many years. And he loved the energy industry. I feel certain he would be proud of this Academy named in his honor.”

For more information about the Academy, contact Dennis Xander at or at 304-472-2186.