Blake R. Van Leer

1893 to 1956

Dr. Blake Van Leer had a colorful professional career ranging from service in three separate universities to service as a Colonel in World War II. Following his return from service in WWII, Dr. Van Leer became the 5th president of Georgia Tech in 1944. As president, Dr. Van Leer continued the policies and dreams of his predecessor, president Brittain, and took steps to continue Tech’s progress towards a leading research center and away from the Institute’s trade school roots. Additionally, as president during the early 50’s, Dr. Van Leer took bold steps to advance the social policies of Georgia Tech. Under his tutelage, Georgia Tech admitted its first women, Diane Michel and Shirley Clements, and Dr. Van Leer also took steps towards the school’s integration. An interesting fact is the Dr. Van Leer’s own daughter, Maryly, could not attend Georgia Tech for chemical engineering as the school did not admit women when she applied. Finally, president Van Leer is also responsible for changing the school’s name from the “Georgia School of Technology” to the “Georgia Institute of Technology” in 1948.

Notable Accomplishments: 
  • President of Georgia Tech
  • Dean of Engineering at NC State
  • Colonel in US Army