In 1999, Colin McMillan ’57 made a lead gift to the College of Arts and Sciences as a challenge to other donors to establish the department of geology’s first distinguished professorship.

McMillan, who was chairman and chief executive officer of Permian Exploration Corporation in Roswell, N.M., earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from UNC in 1957. He was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and the Order of the Old Well and received the award for outstanding senior in geology.

After graduation, McMillan served three years in the U.S. Marine Corps and moved to New Mexico, where he pursued a fruitful business and political career. A successful cattle rancher, farmer and oil and gas explorer, McMillan was elected to six terms in the New Mexico State House of Representatives from 1971-1982. He also served as assistant secretary of defense under President George Herbert Walker Bush from 1990 to 1992.

“Every day I’ve used something I learned at Carolina, whether it’s on the job or looking at outcrops as I drive the highways and back roads of New Mexico,” McMillan said after making his pledge. “I want freshmen who enter Carolina…to have the same quality of instruction that I had nearly 50 years ago.”

After McMillan’s sudden death in 2003, his wife, Kay Ruth McMillan, had the professorship renamed to honor her husband.

Colin McMillan Distinguished Fellow in Geological Sciences

2010 – 2013:  Jason Barnes
2015 – Present: Xiaoming Liu