For the last decade, John W. Gibson, Jr. served Houston Baptist University on the Board of Trustees. HBU is like part of the Gibson family; his wife, Elizabeth, son, John W. Gibson, III, and daughter-in-law, Deborah, all attended HBU.
Now a father of two and a grandfather of seven, Gibson counts himself an unlikely higher education advocate. In the mid-70s, Gibson didn’t last long at the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Georgia.
“Alcohol and fast cars were my vision of a great life during junior college,” he said. “To be honest, that’s why I did so poorly.”
In 1976, Gibson joined the U.S. Army and served in Korea. By the time he completed his service in 1979, he had promoted to a sergeant.
“It was a great opportunity to gain some discipline. I needed about three years to calm down and grow up,” he said. “It was an honor to serve.”
Gibson married his wife, Elizabeth, in 1979, and the two attended Auburn University. After graduating with a degree in geology in 1982, Gibson first came to Houston to work as a geophysicist for Gulf Oil.
His technical and people skills proved to be a winning combination as Gibson advanced in his career.
“I’ve always had jobs I was unqualified for,” he mused.
He attended evening classes to earn a master’s in geology from the University of Houston in 1992 before going on to be the head of Zycor, Halliburton, Paradigm Geophysical and Tervita. He is currently a senior advisor for Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Company.
Gibson has long made it a practice to share his success and his passion for quality education across university and business platforms.
“I put a lot of effort in my life into furthering academia in general, but I have really invested in HBU,” he said. “We have a faith-based university that’s in a major metropolitan area. HBU is an important member of the Houston community. We add a huge dimension with premiere programs like religious studies, apologetics and the nursing school.”
As chairman of the Board, Gibson was part of a growth in students, an increase in campus infrastructure and the development of the online program. Each member of the Board works in coordination to make sure the University is spiritually, academically and financially successful, he said.
“Our Board members are rock stars in the business and faith communities,” he said. “The thing we have in common really is our faith and our commitment to Christian education. To go to a Board of Trustees meeting at HBU is not like going to another Board meeting. We start out with a devotional and then we go from there to how to honor God through HBU. We’re unashamedly Christian, and yet we’re absolutely committed to education for all.”
Of the Board’s accomplishments during his tenure, Gibson is especially proud of the ways members have ensured the University will be viable and innovative for years to come. His memories are warmed with the camaraderie of co-laborers.
“It’s been a blessing to be able to work with Stewart Morris, Sr., Dr. Hodo, Dr. Sloan, Sandy Mooney and other visionaries. It’s been a privilege to be part of that group,” he said.
Houston Baptist University will remain effective by continuing to provide a personalized and faith-filled education to each student. He credits his wife’s special love for the school for the family’s ongoing involvement and contributions to HBU.
“HBU changes lives; it’s changed our lives,” he said. “I’ve served for quite a long time and I’ve enjoyed every minute. I’ve had some fun. It will be a great opportunity to have other trustees come in with fresh perspectives. If there is an opportunity to help HBU, I’ll be there.”
The Elizabeth and John Gibson Endowed Chair in Apologetics at HBU, established in 2012, has allowed for the growth of the prestigious program. Click here to visit the web page and learn more about apologetics with HBU.