University of Houston Regent, oil executive Steve Chazen dies at 76

Stephen “Steve” Chazen, a University of Houston regent and renowned oil executive, died Thursday. He was 76. 

Chazen, who founded Houston-based Magnolia Oil & Gas Corporation in 2017, serving as the company’s president, chairman and CEO until he stepped down on Wednesday due to “serious health reasons,” according to Magnolia Oil & Gas

“Steve is an exceptionally talented and revered leader, who will leave an extraordinary legacy on our industry,” Dan Smith, who served as Magnolia’s lead independent director before being named chairman of the board, said in a statement. “Not only has Steve led an evolution of Magnolia, but his influence has also shaped the oil and gas landscape and the greater business and Houston communities.”

Chazen worked his way up the ranks of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, starting in the chemical company’s finance department in 1994 and becoming chief executive in 2011. He oversaw Occidental’s relocation from Los Angeles to Houston and guided them during the early days of U.S. shale boom, which pushed oil commodity prices down. He elevated the company as a global energy leader before his retirement in 2016.

“We are saddened by the passing of Steve Chazen. We cared for him deeply and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, family and friends,” Vicki Hollub, Occidental’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. 

Chazen earned his master’s degree from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. He was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott to the UH System Board of Regents in 2018. He also served as chair of the endowment management committee, vice chair of the audit and compliance committee and a member of the finance and administration committee.

“The UH System, our students and institutions are stronger as a result of his support and dedicated service,” the school’s release said.

Notably, he chaired the UH finance committee during its “Here, We Go” capital campaign, which raised more than $1.2 billion for the UH System.

“There are few people I looked up to or enjoyed being around more than Steve. He was a wise and thoughtful friend and a cherished colleague who offered insightful leadership to the UH System. He was always passionate about improving our institutions in ways that serve our students,” Tilman J. Fertitta, chairman of the UH System Board of Regents, said in the school’s release.

Chazen was also director of the Houston Methodist Institute for Academic Medicine.

“Extremely sad news,” UH Chancellor Renu Khator tweeted. “The Cougar nation mourns the passing of our regent Steve Chazen… an extraordinary man and leader. Passionate about education. Wise beyond belief. Genuinely caring and visionary. I will personally miss him for his guidance and humor.”

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