T. Marshall Hahn Jr. of Montgomery County, who transformed what was primarily a white, male military college into the comprehensive university now known as Virginia Tech, died May 29 2016. He was 89.
A brilliant scientist with a legendarily photographic memory, Hahn had been a prodigy in all aspects of life. He earned a bachelor’s in physics from the University of Kentucky at 18 and, after serving a two-year stint in the Navy, received his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at age 23.
At 35, he was hired as the 11th president of what was then Virginia Polytechnic Institute, becoming the youngest president of any land-grant institution in the country.
After his academic career, which culminated with the presidency of Virginia Tech, Hahn distinguished himself in industry, retiring in 1993 from Georgia Pacific Corporation as chief executive officer. But it was his tenure as chief executive of Virginia Tech for which he is likely to be best remembered.
Hahn began his presidency on July 2, 1962, 100 years to the day after Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Morrill Land-Grant Act, which changed American higher education. He served as Virginia Tech’s 11th president from 1962 to 1974.
After leaving Virginia Tech, Hahn had a distinguished career at Georgia Pacific Corporation. Beginning as an executive vice president, he was appointed president in 1976 and CEO in 1983, serving in the latter role until retirement in 1993.
Hahn’s early academic career includes serving as lecturer in physics at the U.S. Naval Academy Preparatory School; physicist for the Naval Ordnance Laboratory; teaching fellow and research assistant at MIT; associate professor, professor, director of graduate study, and director of nuclear accelerator laboratories at the University of Kentucky; professor and department head of physics at VPI; and dean of arts and sciences at Kansas State.
Hahn is survived by two daughters, Anne Hahn Hurst and Betty Hahn; a son-in-law, Doug Chancey; and three grandchildren, Erin McKelvy, Shane McKelvy, and Marshall Hurst. He was predeceased by a wife, Margaret Louise “Peggy” Hahn, and son, William Hahn.more » « less