The Pro Bene Meritis award is the highest honor bestowed by the College of Liberal Arts. Since 1984, the annual award has been given to alumni, faculty members and friends of the college who are committed to the liberal arts, have made outstanding contributions in professional or philanthropic pursuits or have participated in service related to the college.
Education: B.A. Economics ’72 and MBA Finance ’74, The University of Texas at Austin; J.D. ’77, Southern Methodist University
Hometown: Minot, North Dakota
Stephen Ballantyne is a practicing attorney and president of Ballantyne Oil & Gas and Verde Oil Company. He has strongly supported the liberal arts and UT Austin through numerous scholarships across campus and his involvement as a lifelong member of the Liberal Arts Advisory Council, the Advisory Committee for the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas and a founding member of the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education. His leadership in connecting San Antonio with the college continues to foster a robust relationship with the university and its alumni.
What makes you most proud to be a Longhorn?
We are truly a university of the first class. Our academics, athletics program and alumni association are the envy of every other university. We aren’t just good in one area; we are at the top or near the top in all areas. We stand for integrity and excellence in all areas. You can wear Longhorn apparel anywhere in the world and someone will recognize it, giving you a “Hook ’em.”
Who at UT was most influential to your success?
Former professors in the Graduate School of Business, Isabella Cunningham, George Kozmetsky and Eugene Konecci — each in their own way — encouraged me to stretch beyond my safe zone and develop as a student, citizen and contributor to society.
What’s your favorite memory from UT Austin?
I had a lot of fun while on campus and developed many great and lasting personal relationships through my involvement with the Texas Cowboys and Alpha Tau Omega. We also won two football national championships while I was in undergraduate school.
Why do you keep a close relationship with your alma mater?
We all have a vested interest in maintaining and improving the value of our degrees from the university. I feel it is every graduate’s duty to help the university improve its academic standing and enhance the prestige of our degrees. We can do this by being involved with the alumni association, the colleges we attended and other events concerning the university.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Meeting my wife in my cost accounting class and eventually marrying her. Who knows what path I would have taken if I had not met her. All my successes and accomplishments would not have happened without her love and support.
How do you hope your scholarship support benefits students?
I think every scholarship donor’s first concern is to ease the financial burden of attending college. Then, I think they are hoping to help a student learn and develop the area of interest to which their scholarship is dedicated. I have very mixed emotions on how much help should be given. I worked all through college at many different jobs, and I think the learning experience from these jobs, as well as learning time management with my studies and other activities, were probably the most important education I received in college.