Arthur Hansen, who led Georgia Tech from 1969 to 1971 as the Institute’s seventh president, died July 5 in Fort Myers, Fla. He was 85 years old.
Dr. Hansen arrived at Tech in 1966 as the dean of engineering. He assumed the president’s office, vacated by Edwin Harrison, on Aug. 1, 1969. The choice of Dr. Hansen to fill the post “was popular with students, who found the 44-year-old pipe-smoking engineer and mathematician willing … to discuss issues and problems with them,” according to the Tech history book Images and Memories.
When he resigned, effective July 1, 1971, to take the helm of his alma mater, Purdue University, he was feted by students with “Good Ol’ Art’s Day,” Images and Memories said, and presented a bronzed RAT cap.
Dr. Hansen was as fond of the students as they were of him. “To be perfectly honest, working with students” was the best part of the stint as president, he told the Living History program.
According to Ramblin’ Wrecks From Georgia Tech, “Although his tenure was short-lived — Hansen served almost two years — he oversaw several improvements to campus, including completion of the Student Center, an addition to the library and new homes for chemistry, physics and civil engineering.”
While serving in the Marines as a young man, the Sturgeon Bay, Wis., native was sent to Purdue, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. After World War II, he returned to Purdue for a master’s in mathematics.
Dr. Hansen then joined NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a research scientist. During his 11 years there, he also earned a doctorate in mathematics from Case Western Reserve University. He then headed the Nucleonics Research Division of the Cornell Aeronautics Laboratory.
He served as Purdue’s president for 11 years, from 1971 to 1982, before taking the post of chancellor of the Texas A&M University System.
Dr. Hansen served as director of the Ball Corp., American Electric Power, International Paper, Interlake Corp. and Navistar International. He was a member of the advisory boards of the Department of Energy, Naval Academy, Army War College and Wright-Patterson Air Force Technical Institute.
He also chaired the boards of the Corporation for Educational Technology, Atlanta Civic Design Commission and Georgia Science and Technology Commission.
Dr. Hansen served as chairman of the Committee on Minorities in Engineering for the National Research Council and as the board chairman of the Indianapolis Symphony Society.
Memorials in Dr. Hansen’s name may be made to The Carter Center or the Purdue Cancer Center-Hansen Life Sciences Research Building.