Blake Ragsdale Van Leer

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Blake Ragsdale Van Leer

Blake Ragsdale Van Leer was a major part of Georgia Tech's growth during the 20th century. This was a result of his hard work, dedication, and initiative in changing the education focus at Georgia Tech.






Contents

Early Life and Education

Blake Ragsdale Van Leer was born on August 11, 1893 in Mangum, Oklahoma.[1] After graduating in 1911 from Big Springs High School, he he received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 1915.[2] Following his graduation from Purdue, Van Leer became a faculty member at the University of California until 1917, when he was sent to France to work with the U.S. Army. After his active duty concluded, he returned to Berkeley, California, where he received a Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1920. He was later awarded a scholarship to study in Europe in 1927. Upon his return to the United States, Van Leer became assistant secretary of the American Engineering Council.[3] He became Dean of Engineering at the University of Gainesville in 1932, and later worked for the University of North Carolina.[4]

Service in the World Wars

Van Leer served in World War I as First Lieutenant of one of the Engineer Corps of the U.S. Army from 1917 to 1919. During this time, because he was stationed in France, he studied at the University of Caen.[5] Van Leer was released from active duty and returned to Berkeley, California to continue studying.

Van Leer later served as colonel in World War II as Chief of Facilities, Army Specialized Training Division. In 1944, he was released from active duty to return to the United States to become Georgia Tech's fifth president.[6]

Van Leer as President of Georgia Tech

Van Leer was president of Georgia Tech from 1944 to 1956, when he died from a heart attack.[7] While at Tech, Van Leer initiated dramatic change at the school, in pursuing his few main goals. Those goals included emphasizing graduate education and research, and making the school a technological university.[8] He led an extensive program of building and development at Tech and instituted many changes in administration. He was a strong proponent of science education for women, and as a result, women were admitted for the first time in Georgia Tech during Van Leer's tenure. Many say that Van Leer was very skilled when it came to communicating to students and faculty. He also brought about some basic steps needed for the school to become integrated. [9]

Van Leer Building at Georgia Tech

Van Leer ECE Building at Georgia Tech

Because Van Leer was one of the most influential figures in Georgia Tech history, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building was named after him. The building is located at 777 Atlantic Drive, across from the Bunger-Henry Building and near the new Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons.[10] The building is home to electrical engineering classes as well as other large classes that use the building's lecture hall.





References

  1. Inventory of the Early Presidents, 1950-1953. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from the Georgia Tech Archives.
  2. Inventory of the Early Presidents, 1950-1953. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from the Georgia Tech Archives.
  3. Inventory of the Early Presidents (Georgia Institute of Technology) Collection, 1879-1957. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from the Georgia Tech Archives.
  4. Inventory of the Early Presidents, 1950-1953. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from the Georgia Tech Archives.
  5. Inventory of the Early Presidents (Georgia Institute of Technology) Collection, 1879-1957. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from the Georgia Tech Archives.
  6. Inventory of the Early Presidents, 1950-1953. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from the Georgia Tech Archives.
  7. Inventory of the Early Presidents (Georgia Institute of Technology) Collection, 1879-1957. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from the Georgia Tech Archives.
  8. Inventory of the Early Presidents, 1950-1953. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from the Georgia Tech Archives.
  9. Sugar Bowl 1956: A Southern Armageddon?. retrieved November 29, 2010 from American Renaissance.
  10. Georgia Tech Online Campus Map. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from http://gtalumni.org/map/
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