Allen G. “A. G.” Oliphant was an independent oil producer with holdings in many states. Born in Harrisonburg, Louisiana, A. G. moved to Tulsa in 1916 and worked for Cosden Oil and Gas and Carter Oil before becoming an independent consulting geologist. In 1920, he drilled his first well in Osage County and became a major independent oil producer in the Osage area. He soon saw success in many Oklahoma oil fields.
A.G. generously shared his success with The University of Tulsa. In 1928, the Oliphant family donated funds for the university to purchase the Shedd Collection of geology books and provided gifts for the Oliphant Student Aid Fund. A. G. served on TU’s Board of Trustees from 1928 to 1935. In the early years of the Ben Graf Henneke presidency, A. G. and his son, Charles, were instrumental in the construction of Oliphant Hall, which became the home of the College of Liberal Arts (later known as the Henry Kendall College of Arts and Sciences) and a campus infirmary (later known as the Hurricane Health Center). In 1960, TU conferred upon A. G. the honorary degree of Doctor of Science. He died on March 23, 1967.
Charles Oliphant established his own legacy as a successful innovator and entrepreneur. He earned a chemical engineering degree and a doctorate in geophysics from Harvard University in 1941. While attending Harvard, he helped develop the “Snakebite,” a radar-jamming device used in World War II. After the war, Charles became a prominent oil producer and was active in the Society of Exploration Geophysicists and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. He also was a director of the Bank of Oklahoma and established the Tulsa Rowing Club.
In May 1962, Charles and his sister, Allene O. Mayo, formed The Cuesta Foundation to extend the philanthropic legacy of their father. Charles also served as a member of the TU Board of Trustees from 1961 to 1974. Other major community and philanthropic accomplishments of the Oliphant family and The Cuesta Foundation included the development of Tulsa’s Swan Lake and Woodward Park.
Charles passed away in January 1998. Later that year, his wife Arline established the Charles W. Oliphant Endowed Chair in Mathematical Sciences in memory of her husband of 55 years. This important faculty chair fortifies academic excellence in TU’s Department of Mathematics.
Gregory W. “Greg” Oliphant (Charles’ grandson) sustains the family’s personal connection to The University of Tulsa, serving as chairman and president of The Cuesta Foundation. The family’s TU investments include the A.G. Oliphant Endowment for Facilities, which was originally established in 1930 as the A. G. Oliphant College of Engineering and Natural Sciences Endowment Fund. The name and purpose of this endowment were changed in 2011 to provide perpetual funding for the care and maintenance of Oliphant Hall. The Cuesta Foundation also funded a namesake presidential scholarship from 2004 to 2018, helping to recruit superior students to TU’s engineering and natural sciences programs and ensuring that they had the means to fulfill their goals.
Today, Oliphant Hall remains a bustling center of student and faculty activity, serving as the home base for the Department of Biological Science, the Department of Media Studies, and the School of Language and Literature. The Department of Biological Science operates teaching and research laboratories, a greenhouse, animal colonies, and the Microarray Core Facility in the building. In recent years, The Cuesta Foundation has expanded its support of Oliphant Hall, making several important new investments in the building’s facilities, focused mainly on the Department of Biological Science and its renovation efforts.
The TU family is grateful for the Oliphant family’s proud TU legacy, which will continue to fortify the success of our students and the maintenance of our facilities for generations to come.