Gov. Timothy M. Kaine announced appointments to the Virginia Commission on Higher Education Board.

The Commission, which was established by Executive Order in 2002 and made a permanent Commission in 2005, is charged with reviewing potential appointees to the governing bodies of Virginia’s public higher education institutions, and making recommendations to the Governor based on merit, experience, sound judgment, and proven leadership.

“This commission has elevated the process for choosing high-caliber leaders to help guide our state colleges and universities,” Governor Kaine said. “The commission’s review and recommendations help ensure that the individuals chosen for these important positions are qualified, committed, and share our goal of excellence in Virginia’s higher education system.”

Paul E. Torgersen of Blacksburg has served on the Commission since its creation in 2002. He is president emeritus of Virginia Tech and continues to teach on a part time basis. Torgersen holds the university’s John W. Hancock Jr. Chair of Engineering and served for 20 years as dean of the College of Engineering, leading it to national distinction. Torgersen served as president of the university from 1993 to 2000 and served in the school’s administration or on the faculty for almost 40 years.

Torgersen is a fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and the American Society of Engineering Education. In 1986, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and was later elected to its governing board. Other accomplishments include his appointment to the National Research Council’s Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems and co-authoring five books.

Joshua P. Darden, Jr., of Virginia Beach has served on the Commission since its creation in 2002. He currently serves as chairman of the Norfolk Foundation’s distribution committee, trustee of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, a board member of the Hampton Roads Partnership, director of the Tidewater Scholarship Foundation, a member of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council and a member of the executive committee for the University of Virginia Capital Campaign. Darden previously served as rector of the University of Virginia board of visitors, a trustee of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, a member of the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education for the 21st Century, chairman of the Campaign for the University of Virginia, and vice chairman of Virginia Wesleyan College’s president’s council. Darden is president of Darden Properties, Inc.

Dr. Grace E. Harris of Richmond has served on the Commission since its creation in 2002. He is currently a distinguished professor in the Center for Public Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University and provides leadership for the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute, which was established in her name by VCU’s board of visitors to honor her 32 years of exemplary service with the university. Dr. Harris retired in June 1999 from her position as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at VCU and had previously served as Vice Provost for Continuing Studies and Public Service and professor and dean of the School of Social Work. Harris currently serves on the board of trustees of the University of Richmond and the advisory boards of the Dental School and Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute of VCU.

James B. Murray, Jr., of Keene has served on the Commission since its creation in 2002. He has served on the board of visitors of the College of William and Mary, where he was also elected Rector. He currently serves on the North American Board of the Smurfit Graduate School of Business Administration at University College in Dublin, Ireland.

In addition to writing several books on telecommunications and information technology, Murray has been a guest lecturer at the Harvard Business School, as well as the Darden Graduate Business School, Piedmont Virginia Community College, and the McIntyre School of Commerce at the University of Virginia, and from 1968 to 1971 taught elementary school. Murray is the founder and managing director of Court Square Ventures, a venture capital firm specializing in telecommunications and information technology investments, and is a founder and former chairman of Columbia Capital, a venture capital firm.

Val S. McWhorter of Clifton is a board member of George Mason University’s Arts at Mason and is the co-author of several books on mediation in the area of construction law. McWhorter served for seven years on the State Council of Higher Education and has also served as chairman of the Commission on Higher Education in Virginia. He was appointed to the George Mason Board of Visitors, where he served as a member of the executive committee and as the vice-rector. McWhorter is a founding partner of Smith, Pachter, McWhorter, a law firm specializing in construction and government contract law.

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