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The Dr. Paul E. Torgersen Ring Collection
Ring Premiere

Tech students will recognize the name ‘Torgersen’ as the name of the large and impressive campus building that spans over Alumni Mall joining with Newman Library. It’s a name that has been around the Virginia Tech campus for a long time. After 33 years of service, “a third of a century” as he says, as professor, college dean and finally as the University’s 14th president, Paul E. Torgersen retired officially on December 31, 1999, on the crest of Y2K frenzy and in the glory of Tech’s football team playing at the National Championship in New Orleans.

Those who know him, know his car with the personalized plates “TENNIS” - his favorite sport that earned him his scholarship to his undergraduate institution, Lehigh University. He came to Tech in 1967 as the Industrial Systems Department head. By 1970 he was Dean of Engineering. During his 20-year tenure as Dean, Tech’s College of Engineering rose to become one of the top 20 in the nation. In 1988, he served as Interim President for 8 months. In 1990, Torgersen became president of Virginia Tech’s Corporate Research Center. He has served as chairman of the engineering Deans’ Council, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and has authored or co-authored five books.

Taking the president’s role from 1993-1999, his dynamic tenure was marked by major changes, college restructuring, construction projects, and the breathtaking sweep of the internet and computer use. As he did while Dean of Engineering, Torgersen continued to champion the use of new technology that would bring Tech students to the cutting edge of business and industry. He supported the development and construction of the Math Emporium, completed in 1997. He strongly supported the decision in 1998 that required all students (beginning with the Class of 2002) to have their own personal computer.

In that same year, the Advanced Communications Information Technology Center (ACITC) building had a ‘virtual’ groundbreaking: a new Hokie stone building with a bridge linking to Newman Library. Torgersen’s leadership was key in supporting the funding and construction of this state-of-the-art facility that was dedicated in 2000 and appropriately bears his name: Torgersen Hall. Considered the right leader for the right time, Paul Torgersen prepared Virginia Tech for the 21st century.

Of all of his accomplishments, Torgersen has always seen himself as a teacher first ­ “I consider myself a professor who is also a president.” During his term as president, he continued to teach at least one class per semester. Torgersen never attended Virginia Tech but the University has been his life’s work in the spirit of the University motto “That I May Serve.” He was granted honorary alumni status upon his retirement. Residing in Blacksburg, Dr. Torgersen continues to teach and stay involved with Virginia Tech. He still enjoys a good game of tennis, keeping up with grandchildren, and traveling with his wife, Dot.

The Class of 2006 is proud to name their ring collection in honor of Tech’s 14th president, Dr. Paul E. Torgersen.