T. Marshall Hahn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
T. Marshall Hahn
11th President of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
In office
July 1, 1962 – December 31, 1974
Preceded byWalter S. Newman
Succeeded byWilliam E. Lavery
Personal details
Thomas Marshall Hahn, Jr.

(1926-12-02)December 2, 1926
Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
DiedMay 29, 2016(2016-05-29) (aged 89)[1]
Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Kentucky
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Thomas Marshall Hahn, Jr. (December 2, 1926 – May 29, 2016) was an American educator. He served as President of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University from 1962 to 1974 and Director of Georgia-Pacific Corporation from 1983 to 1993. He received his B.S. degree in physics from the University of Kentucky in 1945.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Lexington, Kentucky, he was educated in its public schools before going to the University of Kentucky, where he graduated "with highest honors." After graduation he served in the U.S. Navy and was a physicist for U.S. Naval Ordnance Laboratory. After his navy service, he went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a Ph.D. in physics in 1949. He was a research assistant at MIT, beginning in 1947. After graduating from MIT, he returned to the University of Kentucky as associate professor and then professor of physics.

In 1954, he went to Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, Virginia, as head of the Department of Physics. He was the leading force in establishing a doctoral program in nuclear engineering physics at VPI, and in the acquisition of the nuclear reactor simulator that was put into operation in 1957. From 1959 to 1962, he served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University.

He returned to Virginia Tech as President on July 1, 1962, where he remained until 1975. Dr. Hahn was instrumental in Virginia Tech's transition from a small, largely military, and overwhelmingly white and male technical institute focused on agriculture and engineering that emphasized undergraduate teaching over research or graduate program to, symbolized by its new name, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, a coeducational, multiracial research university with a thriving college of arts and sciences and burgeoning graduate program. During his tenure, Virginia Tech tripled in size. During this period, even remote Blacksburg, Virginia was not untouched by the student anti-war protests with Dr. Hahn targeted as a symbol of the bureaucracy in 1970 when considerable disturbance erupted on campus after a group of students and two faculty members protesting U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War interfered with a Corps of Cadets drill, forcing the university to seek an injunction against further disruptive activities by the individuals involved. Several weeks later after the Kent State shootings a group of students and non-student anti-war protesters seized Williams Hall. Hahn called in the Virginia State Police who stormed the building to end the standoff. The students involved were expelled.[2] He served until December 31, 1974 and was succeeded as President of Virginia Tech by William Edward Lavery in 1975.[3]

After leaving Virginia Tech, Hahn became an executive with the Georgia-Pacific Corporation. He was with the company starting in 1973 as director (1973–2016); chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer (1984–1985); president and chief executive officer (1983–1984); president and chief operating officer (1982–1983); president (1976–1982); executive vice president, pulp, paper, and chemicals (1975–1976); and executive vice president, chemicals (1975). Hahn's tenure as CEO of Georgia Pacific from 1983 to 1993 included the boom years for the paper industry and the hostile takeover of Great Northern Nekoosa by Georgia-Pacific. The latter was one of Hahn's strategic decisions to build the paper side of Georgia Pacific's business. Dr. Hahn was instrumental in organizing a cross-country tour for the New Virginians, a Virginia Tech musical group. The tour included stops at Georgia Pacific facilities across the country.

He was Chairman of the Salvation Army National Capitol and Virginia Divisional advisory board, 1972–74; Chairman, Virginia Cancer Crusade, 1972; member, Virginia State Board of Agriculture and Commerce, 1962–74; member, board of visitors, Ferrum Junior College, 1966–74; President, Air University, 1966–69; member, Academic Affairs Commission, American Council of Education; Chairman, Metropolitan Areas Study Commission of Virginia, 1966–68; and member, Governor of Virginia's Commission on Status of Women, 1964-66.

He was a fellow of the American Physical Society, and a member of the National Science Board, appointed by the President in 1972. His directorships also included the board of control of Southern Regional Education Board; First National -Exchange Bank of Virginia; The Lane Company; Dominion Bankshares, Inc.; Roanoke Electric Steel Corporation, and Shenandoah Life Insurance Company.

After retiring from Georgia Pacific Hahn returned to Montgomery County in 1993 where he lived on his farm in the Ellett Valley and raised beef cattle, sheep and goats. He was married to, Margaret Louise "Peggy" Lee Hahn for over 60 years. He died after a decade-long battle with Parkinson's disease on May 29, 2016.[1]


Hahn was named to the Hall of Distinguished Alumni at the University of Kentucky in 1965.[4] He was recognized by eight different Greek-Letter honorary fraternities. He also received the MIT Corporate Leadership Award (1976), and the same year was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Seton Hall University.

Hahn Hall on the Virginia Tech campus was named for Hahn in 1990,[5] and the Peggy Lee Hahn Garden Pavilion and Horticulture Garden are named for his wife Peggy.[6]


  1. ^ a b Hincker, Larry; Raboteau, Albert. "In Memoriam: Virginia Tech President Emeritus T. Marshall Hahn Jr". Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  2. ^ https://www.unirel.vt.edu/history/students_alumni/index.html
  3. ^ "A Short History of Virginia Tech: The Hahn Administration". spec.lib.vt.edu.
  4. ^ "University of Kentucky Distinguished Alumni".
  5. ^ https://www.vt.edu/about/buildings/hahn_hall_south_wing.html
  6. ^ https://www.vt.edu/about/buildings/hahn-garden.html
  • From VPI to State University: President T. Marshall Hahn, Jr. and the Transformation of Virginia Tech, 1962-1974, Warren H. Strother and Peter Wellenstein,

External links[edit]