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Ruffner Medal

In 1976 the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors authorized the William H. Ruffner Medal to recognize individuals “who have rendered unusually distinguished services to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.” The medal is named in honor of William Henry Ruffner, Virginia’s first superintendent of instruction, who had taken a stand as early as 1856 for a practical system of agricultural education. In his role as state superintendent, he served on Virginia Tech’s first governing board for a decade. He also chaired a committee that planned the organization and instruction of Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College, the school known today as Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. D. Lyle Kinnear, in his book The First Hundred Years, calls Ruffner “a towering figure, perhaps the towering figure, in shaping the early destiny of the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College . . . .”

Ruffner Medal recipients are determined by a faculty-staff-student committee selected by the board of visitors. Recipients of the university’s highest award:

1977 Walter S. Newman
  Stuart K. Cassell (posthumously)
1978 C. Eugene Rowe
1979 Lucy Lee Lancaster
1980 John W. Hancock Jr.
1981 Robert B. Pamplin Sr.
  W. Thomas Rice
  1982
1983 G. Burke Johnston
1984 Robert O. Goodykoontz
1985 Charles O. Gordon
1986 Parke C. Brinkley
1987 Lee C. Tait
1988 John W. Bates Jr.
  Dan H. Pletta
1989 G. Frank Clement
1990 Willis S. White Jr.
1991 Edward R. “Red” English Sr.
1992 Horace G. Fralin
1993 William E. Lavery
1994 James D. McComas
1995 Clifford A. Cutchins III
1996 G. Truman Ward
1997 Clifton C. Garvin Jr.
1998 William E. Skelton
1999 Henry J. Dekker
2000 John D. Wilson
2001 Cecil R. Maxson Jr.
2002 Christopher Kraft
2003 Ralph G. Roop
2004 James E. Turner Jr.
2005 William E. “Ping” Betts Jr.
2006 Floyd W. “Sonny” Merryman Jr.
2007 William C. Latham
2008 James B. “J.B.” Jones
2009 Eugene V. Fife
2010 Garnett E. Smith
2011 John W. Bates III
2012 Samuel L. Lionberger Jr.
2013 Michele "Shelley" Duke
2014 G. Robert “Bob” Quisenberry
2015 Sandra Davis