Sunday, March 8, 2015

HISTORY HIGHLIGHT: MEP Honors the Memory and Legacy of Dr. Arthur Hansen, Former President of Purdue University and Known as "The Student's President"


Dr. Author Hansen championed the cause of diversity when it was not popular, during the 1970's. He was the eighth president of Purdue and was instrumental during the founding of The National Society of Black Engineers (1975) and the Minority Engineering Program (1974) at Purdue University. He was a "Key Enabler" for national diversity initiatives and will always be remembered!

Arthur Gene Hansen. Purdue University 8th president, Arthur Gene Hansen, led the university from 1971-1982. Dr. Hansen was born in Sturgeon Bay, WI and upon his graduation from high school he joined the United States Marine Corps and became a second lieutenant. As part of his duty, he was sent to Purdue University where he received a B.S. in electrical engineering.

At the end of World War II he returned to Purdue and received an MS in mathematics. He then joined NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he was a research scientist for 11 years. During this time he received a PhD in mathematics from Case Western Reserve University. Following his term at NASA, he served as head of the Nucleonics Research Division of the Cornell Aeronautics Laboratory. He then joined the faculty of the University of Michiganas a professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department and was later named Chairman of that Department. He was a professor of mechanical engineering at Tuskegee Institute in 1965.

In 1966 Dr. Hansen went to Georgia Tech as Dean of Engineering and later was named President of Georgia Tech. In 1971, he was appointed President of Purdue University where he served for 11 years. While serving as president for Purdue University, Dr. Hansen championed the cause for diversity.  Several initiatives were launched, including the Women In Engineering Program, the Minority Engineering Program, the Engineering Honors Program, and during his tenure the under-represented minority student enrollment grew significant.y.

Following Purdue, he was named chancellor of the Texas A&M University System consisting of four universities and five state agencies. In 1986 he served briefly as Director of Research of the Hudson Institute after which he retired from academic research. In business and civic service, he served as a director of the Ball Corporation, American Electric Power, International Paper, Interlake Corporation and Navistar International. Dr. Hansen served as a member of the U.S. Department of Energy Research Advisory Board, the academic advisory boards of the U.S. Naval Academy, the Army War College and Wright-Patterson Air Force Technical Institute. He was chairman of the board for the Corporation for Education Technology, chairman of the Atlanta Civic Design Commission, and the Georgia Science and Technology Commission. Dr. Hansen received the Distinguished Service Medal of the Department of Defense, was named Atlanta Engineer of the Year, Indiana Engineer of the Year, and received the Purdue Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1979. Honors include honorary doctorates from Indiana University, Purdue University, and the International University of Kyrgyzstan. 

*Originally Posted May 23rd, 2011*

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