University names Chemistry-Physics Building for former university president T. Marshall Hahn Jr.
The Chemistry-Physics Building where thousands of students from multiple Virginia Tech colleges take courses in physics, chemistry or microbiology has been named for T. Marshall Hahn Jr., who as president of the institution from 1962 to 1974 spearheaded some of the most significant changes in the university's history.
By fully opening enrollment to women, eliminating the requirement that male freshman and sophomores be in the corps of cadets, and reorganizing the institution’s colleges, Hahn transformed the college then known as Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI) into a comprehensive research university which, today, is Virginia’s leading research university.
Enrollment nearly tripled during Hahn’s tenure, increasing from 6,358 students to 17,470, which led to the construction of new residence halls and academic buildings, and the renovation and enlargement of many other facilities. Lane Stadium, Cowgill Hall, and Slusher Hall are just a few of the prominent buildings added to campus during Hahn’s 12 years as president.
Other firsts under Hahn included the hiring of a black faculty member, the graduation of a black woman, and the opening of the corps of cadets to women.
“It’s extremely fitting that such a prominent building bear the name of such an important figure in Virginia Tech’s history,” said current university President Charles W. Steger, who earned two of his three Virginia Tech degrees during Hahn’s tenure.
“I appreciate the leadership Dr. Hahn showed in opening up the university to both genders, but anybody who works here now, or is studying here, should be grateful to him for laying the foundation that allowed our school to become a recognized world class university,” said Vice President for Development and University Relations Betsy Flanagan.
The 85,000-square-foot Chemistry-Physics Building is the second building to be named for Hahn, and will be known as Hahn Hall-North Wing. An adjacent, 71,000-square-foot building was named for Hahn in 1990 and is used mainly for chemistry research. That building will now be called Hahn Hall-South Wing. Hahn first came to Virginia Tech in 1954 as a professor and head of Department of Physics. He left in 1959 to serve as dean of arts and sciences at Kansas State University, but returned three years later to become the university’s youngest president, at age 35.
In a resolution approving the naming of a second building for Hahn, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors called him “one of the most transformational figures” in university history, and also cited his ongoing support as a volunteer, advisor, and philanthropist.
Hahn’s broad support of the university’s programs includes athletic programs as well as academic ones, and a conference room in the men’s team section of the soon-to-open basketball practice facility will also bear his name. In 2004 the university’s horticulture garden was named for Hahn’s wife, Peggy, in recognition of the couple’s contributions toward a major expansion of the garden and the construction of a pavilion, which also was named for her.
“I’ve had a long and varied career, but the years at Virginia Tech were our happiest and most fulfilling,” Hahn said of himself and his wife, who still live in Blacksburg. “So we’ve tried to give back to Tech as much as we can, and in a variety of areas.”
The Hahns are charter members of the Ut Prosim Society’s President’s Circle, the university’s most prestigious recognition for donors. Their daughter, son-in-law, and grandson – Anne, Leigh and Marshall Hurst, respectively – were recognized on April 24 at the annual Ut Prosim Society dinner. The Hahns and Hursts represent three generations of benevolent and avid Hokies. Marshall Hurst was recognized as the youngest Hokie Benefactor and the youngest member of the Ut Prosim Society.