SKILLMAN, N.J. – Jack Blanton (University of Texas ‘47) will be honored as the winner of the 2002 Intercollegiate Tennis Association Achievement Award, presented by TennisWeek.com, on August 29 at Tennis Week’s U.S. Open party at Patroon restaurant in New York.
The ITA Achievement Awards were created in 1994 to pay tribute to past participants in the world of collegiate tenniswho have achieved excellence in their chosen careers. The distinguished people honored annually as the ITA Achievement Award winners are honored for both their professional successes and their contributions to society.
The ITA Achievement Award candidates are nominated by their past tennis coaches – or by the current coaches of their alma maters’ tennis programs. From these nominees, finalists are selected by the ITA, which serves as the governing body of collegiate tennis. The men’s and women’s winners are then determined by the ITA Achievement Awards Selection Panel: David A Benjamin, ITA Executive Director; Dr. Henry Bienen, President of Northwestern University; Senator John Breaux, 1995 ITA Achievement Award recipient and Democratic senior from Louisiana; Chris Evert, former tennis champion and President of Chris Evert Enterprises; Gene Scott, Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of Tennis Week; Alan Schwartz, First Vice President of the U.S. Tennis Association; Stan Smith, former tennis champion; and Mark Stenning, Executive Director of International Tennis Hall of Fame.
“The lessons learned on the court over a period of four years are a vital companion to the academic lessons of higher education,” said David A Benjamin, ITA Executive Director. “The winner of the ITA Achievement Award is an individual who benefited from the experience of intercollegiate competition, went on to greater accomplishments, and generously shared his good fortune with his community.”
Blanton (pictured/right) is regarded as one of Houston’s most exceptional business and civic leaders. Some of his greatest achievements have occurred in the role of civic leader as Chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of Texas and Chairman of the Greater Houston Chamber of Commerce.
While at Texas, Blanton played both singles and doubles on the varsity tennis squad. He was the Southwest Conference doubles champion in 1945.
After earning his law degree at Texas, Blanton joined Scurlock Oil in 1950 and quickly ascended to its presidency in 1958. He helped make Scurlock the company it eventually became – one of the largest crude oil gathering and transportation entities in the country. In 1982, when Scurlock became a subsidiary of Ashland Oil Inc., Blanton was named chairman and CEO. Blanton currently serves as President of Eddy Refining Company. He has served on the Board of Directors of SBC Corporation, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Texas Commerce Bank, Baker Hughes Inc., Ashland Oil Inc., and Pogo Producing Company.
While Blanton was extremely successful in the oil business, his greatest achievements have occurred in the role of civic leader. When he became Chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of Texas in 1987, higher education in Texas was faced with a 26 percent budget reduction. Blanton was, in part, responsible for influencing the Texas legislature to more fully support the University of Texas system (and, therefore, higher education).
In 1990, Blanton was named Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Houston Endowment, the largest private foundation in Texas, founded in 1937. Today, the Houston Endowment has education as its major focus, which has been at the core of Blanton’s career as a public servant. Approximately 80 percent of the grants are dedicated to the greater Houston area, supporting abused women and children, health needs of lesser income families, civic beautification, cultural areas and virtually all areas of education (from pre-school through graduate programs). At any given time, the Houston Endowment is responsible for providing scholarship to approximately 5,000 young people. In addition, Blanton has personally endowed scholarships at the University of Texas at Austin, Southern Methodist University, Huston-Tillotson College, Wiley College, Texas Southern University and Lon Morris College. In 1997, the Houston Endowment made a $12 million donation toward financing a new building (to be completed in 2002), which the president of the University of Texas announced will be named the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art. In addition, Blanton and his late wife Laura Lee Blanton have given a building at SMU which is now under construction, and which will be named the Laura Lee Blanton Student Services Building.
In recognition of his accomplishments and contributions, Blanton will be honored at Tennis Week’s U.S. Open party, where he will be presented by Stan Smith with a specially engraved commemorative gift. He will also receive a framed certificate, and box seats at a day session of the U.S. Open. In addition, the ITA Achievement Award winner’s alma mater’s collegiate tennis program will receive a $2,000.00 donation from the ITA and Tennis Week.