Dr. Arthur Gene Hansen, Purdue President Emeritus

Dr. Arthur Gene Hansen, Purdue President Emeritus

Known as "The Student's President"

Dr. Arthur Gene Hansen (1925-2010) was born in Sturgeon Bay, WI, and upon his graduation from high school he joined the US Marine Corps and became a second lieutenant. As part of his duty, he was sent to Purdue where he received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering.

At the end of World War II, he returned to Purdue and received his M.S. in Mathematics. Dr. Hansen then joined NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he was a Research Scientist for 11 years. During this time, he received a Ph.D. 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 Michigan as a Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department, and was later named Chairman of that Department. In 1965, he was a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Tuskegee Institute. In 1966, Dr. Hansen went to Georgia Tech as the Dean of Engineering and later was named the President of Georgia Tech.

In 1971, he was appointed the eighth President of Purdue University where he served for 11 years (1971-82). 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 National Society of Black Engineers, the Engineering Honors Program, and during his tenure the underrepresented minority student enrollment grew significantly. Dr. Hansen was a "key enabler" for national diversity initiatives and will always be remembered.

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 US Department of Energy Research Advisory Board, the academic advisor boards of the US Naval Academy, and 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 Engineering Alumnus Award in 1979. Other honors include honorary doctorates from Indiana University, Purdue University, and the International University of Kyrgyzstan. 

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