John and Esther Kelly Scholarship Fund

John M. Kelly was a petroleum engineer with a distinguished career in industry and government service for more than 40 years. He held three degrees from New Mexico School of Mines/ New Mexico Tech: a bachelor's degree in mining engineering in 1936; a petroleum engineering degree in 1939; and an honorary doctorate given in 1963.

During 1937-41, Kelly was petroleum geologist in charge of conservation for the Hobbs Proration Office and Lea County Operators/ Committee, one of the first successful voluntary oil conservation agencies in the U. S. From 1941 to 1945, Kelly was secretary and executive director of the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission and the state geologist.

In 1945, John Kelly founded Elk Oil Co., an independent producer, using his wife Esther's initials for the name. He remained its president until 1961. During this period, he also began serving as consultant or director with several petroleum and mining firms and for state and U. S. energy-related agencies. He was chairman of Rocky Mountain Energy Co., a director of Champlin Petroleum Co., and consultant to the boards of Union Pacific Corp., British Petroleum Ltd., and Atlantic Richfield Co.

In 1961, John Kelly was asked to serve as an assistant secretary of the Interior under President John F. Kennedy. He and his family moved to Washington, D. C., where they resided until 1968, when they returned to Roswell. John maintained a consulting office in Washington until 1975.

From 1975 until his death in 1977 at the age of 63, John M. Kelly served on the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents. He was instrumental in convincing state legislators to place the Petroleum Recovery Research Center (PRRC) on the Tech campus rather than in southeastern New Mexico. In his honor, Tech named the building housing the PRRC "Kelly Hall." In 2001, it was renamed "John and Esther Kelly Hall" in honor of both of the Kellys.

John and Esther Kelly had four children: Joseph James, Patricia (Kelly) Kyle, Mary Ann (Kelly) Twitty, and J. Michael. Both sons are in oil-related businesses: Elk Oil Company is run by Joseph Kelly, and J. Michael Kelly operates Keltic Services, a well-testing company. J. Michael Kelly is a Tech alumnus who served on the Board of Regents from 1992 to 1997.

In 1995, Esther set up the John and Esther Kelly Scholarship to benefit students who have demonstrated superior academic achievement.

Undergraduate -- Each year, one two-year scholarship will be awarded to an entering student at New Mexico Tech. To be eligible for consideration, a student must be a graduate of a New Mexico high school., be pursuing a degree in petroleum engineering, geology, geophysics. or geological engineering (petroleum option) [note: this degree is no longer offered]. Students must be full-time, regular, U. S. citizens, and in good standing. One-third of the fund's earnings will support each of the two undergraduate awards. Undergrad recipients will be chosen by Dir. of Financial Aid, Dir. of Admission, and representatives of Petr. Engr. and Geoscience (now Earth Science) depts.

Graduate - Each year a graduate student will be selected as the John M. Kelly Fellow. The student is chosen on the basis of having the most outstanding oil or gas recovery project of interest to New Mexico producers in the previous year. The remaining third of the fund's earnings will support the Fellow.

2015 Recipients:

John R. Gibson
Dylan M. Larson
Jarod R. Maxey
Sydney Mitsui

Donations may be sent to:

Office for Advancement
New Mexico Tech
801 Leroy Place
Socorro, N.M. 87801

To contact us, please call 1-575-835-5616 or email advancement@admin.nmt.edu