James R. "Jim Bob" Moffett, 77, who co-founded Freeport-McMoRan Inc., is resigning from the board and as executive chairman. He has been named chairman emeritus and agreed to provide advisory services. In his 50-plus year career, Moffett "has become an icon as an explorationist," said lead independent director Gerald J. Ford, who was named non-executive chairman. Vice Chairman Richard C. Adkerson is to continue as president and CEO. "Jim Bob has been our chief geologist and has demonstrated great passion for exploration throughout his career," Adkerson said. Moffett has served as executive chairman since 2003 and was CEO from 1995 to 2003. In 1981, he led the effort to merge with Freeport Minerals Co., which at the time was one of the largest corporate mergers in history. Most of the oil and gas business was spun off, but in 2012 the company merged again with McMoRan Exploration Co. and frequent partner Plains Exploration & Production Co. in a transaction valued at $20 billion (see Daily GPI, Dec. 10, 2012). A Louisiana native and graduate of the University of Texas at Austin (UT), Moffett earned a master's degree in geology from Tulane University and worked as a consulting geologist in New Orleans before founding McMoRan Oil & Gas in 1969 with partners William Kennon McWilliams Jr. and B.M. "Mack" Rankin. Moffett in 1990 received the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Award. He also is a member of the UT McCombs School of Business Hall of Fame and the American Mining Hall of Fame, Mining Foundation of the Southwest.