About Ace Pickens

Ace Pickens HeadshotAce Pickens is a proud son of Odessa and founding father of The University of Texas Permian Basin. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of The University of Texas Permian Basin, we are proud to honor Ace Pickens and his instrumental contributions that launched UT Permian Basin into existence.

Mr. Pickens attended Odessa High School and was a member of the 1953 football team, which was runner-up for the state championship. He graduated from Odessa High School in 1954 and attended Odessa College and The University of Texas at Austin. He graduated from The University of Texas with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1958, and earned his Juris Doctor degree from The University of Texas School of Law in 1962. After graduation, he returned to his hometown to practice law, and would soon be elected State Representative.

In 1964, at just 28 years old, Mr. Pickens took the oath of office to serve as State Representative for Odessa. He served as a member of the Texas House of Representatives for almost a decade, representing Odessa from 1964-1973. While he was a chairman and authored numerous bills, his crowning achievement was establishing UTPB. In 1969, he championed the legislation which created The University of Texas of the Permian Basin. Representative Pickens authored, introduced and guided the passage into law of House Bill 157 - “Relating to the establishment, maintenance, support, and administration of The University of Texas of the Permian Basin.”  Thanks to Mr. Pickens's vision and fortitude, the University opened in Odessa to serve the first students in 1973.

Through the Texas Legislature and his policy work, Ace met an energetic and passionate young teacher from Odessa, Dianna Barnard, who soon became his wife. The two married in 1966 and were recognized with a Texas House of Representatives Resolution that concluded: “…be it further resolved that a copy of this Resolution be prepared for this congenial pair as an expression of our good wishes to them for a long and happy married life.”

On top of a legacy of public service, Mr. Pickens is an accomplished attorney specializing in healthcare and administrative law. His legal career has spanned decades from Odessa to Austin and earned him numerous honors including: “100 Heroes of the First 100 Years of Odessa,” the Travis County Bar Association’s “Legend” recognition in 2002, and “The Best Lawyers In America, Health Care Law” every year consecutively since 1993. He is currently Of Counsel at Husch Blackwell LLP.

Ace’s service extends beyond the Permian Basin and Texas. He served two years active duty in the US Navy and more than 10 years in the Navy Reserves, earning the Expeditionary Medal for serving during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. All the while, his commitment to support his hometown of Odessa has remained true.

Ace and his wife established the Ace and Dianna Pickens Endowed Fund for Leadership Studies at UTPB in 1972. He was appointed to the Advisory Council of the Shepperd Leadership Institute at the University in 2004 and continues to be part of the Council today.

Ace Pickens and his wife Dianna live in Austin but have built a life dedicated to serving and supporting their shared hometown of Odessa. The happy couple will celebrate their 57th wedding anniversary this December.