James J. Buffer, Jr., Horace G. Fralin Professor and dean emeritus of the Virginia Tech College of Education, died on Oct. 12. He was 80.

Buffer served as a classroom teacher, a counselor, and an administrator in the Chicago Public Schools before assuming faculty positions at the University of Illinois and Chicago State University. He then moved to The Ohio State University, where he served as professor and associate dean for research in the College of Education and earned distinction as a professor in the areas of technology education, human performance, and organizational development. 

After two decades at Ohio State, Buffer joined the Virginia Tech faculty as the Horace G. Fralin Professor and, from 1990 to 1995, dean of the Virginia Tech College of Education. The college has since been reorganized as the School of Education within the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Upon retirement from Virginia Tech, Buffer focused his energies on the Collegiate Management Institute, an international leadership program he founded in 1987. He served as its executive director until 2003, when he retired for the final time to enjoy life in Fort Myers, Florida.

Buffer earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial education at Chicago State University and his master’s degree and doctorate in education at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

He authored scholarly publications in a range of subjects, including industrial technology, autism, special education, leadership development, and neuroscience.

Buffer served as president of the Council for Technology Teacher Education and was a distinguished member of the Association of Deans of Education in State Universities and Land Grant Colleges and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

Although he was recognized as the Technology Teacher Educator of the Year in 1984, he counted as his greatest honor a teaching award from his Ohio State students, who deemed him a “Professor Who Gives a Damn.” 

Buffer is survived by his wife of 57 years, Loretta C. (Lomasz) Buffer, who formerly taught in the Virginia Tech College of Human Resources; sons Jeffrey (Lisa) Buffer, Fr. Thomas Buffer, and Jim (Heather) Buffer of Columbus, Ohio; daughter Karen (Scott) Rinehart of South Bend, Indiana; and ten grandchildren.

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