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Founders Day Speakers

Keynote speakers were introduced at the first Founders Day in 1972 and continued until 1995, when the format was changed to accommodate the installation of President Paul E. Torgersen. Initially, noted speakers provided a highlight to the university awards presented at the event. Because of the growth in the number of university awards, the practice of having a speaker was discontinued in 1996. In 2000, the special event was changed, with university awards moved to the fall and only the William H. Ruffner Medal and Alumni Distinguished Service Awards presented during the Founders Day ceremony. At the same time, speakers were reintroduced to the event. Since 2005, when the university began presenting the Ruffner and service awards in conjunction with spring Commencement, speakers at the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets spring lecture series, known as the Cutchins Distinguished Lecture, have been considered official Founders Day speakers.

1972John G. Veneman, undersecretary of the U. S. Health, Education, and Welfare Department, read from a speech prepared by HEW Secretary Elliott L. Richardson, who had to cancel his visit because his presence was requested at a Senate hearing
1973Marshall Hahn Jr., president of Virginia Tech
1974Christopher C. Kraft, class of 1945 and director of NASA’s manned spacecraft center at Houston
1975Daniel E. Marvin, director of Virginia’s State Council of Higher Education
1976John D. Wilson, vice president for academic affairs at Virginia Tech, formerly president of Wells College
1977G. Burke Johnston, C. P. Miles Professor emeritus of English, Virginia Tech
1978J. Wade Gilley, Secretary of Education, Commonwealth of Virginia
1979T. Marshall Hahn, president emeritus of Virginia Tech
1980Laura Jane Harper, dean, College of Home Economics, Virginia Tech
1981William E. Lavery, president, Virginia Tech
1982T. Marshall Hahn Jr., president emeritus of Virginia Tech and president of the Georgia-Pacific Corporation
1983Ernest L. Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
1984John Warner, U.S. Senator from Virginia
1985Peter Hackes, NBC news correspondent
1986Caspar W. Weinberger, U.S. Secretary of Defense
1987Bernard Shaw, Washington anchor for Cable News Network
1988G. Burke Johnston, C. P. Miles Professor Emeritus of English
1989Kocheril Raman Narayanan, Minister of State for Science and Technology, Atomic Energy, Space, Electronics, and Ocean Technology for the Government of India
1990Robert M. O’Neil, president of the University of Virginia
1991T. Marshall Hahn Jr., chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Georgia-Pacific Corporation
1992John T. Casteen III, president of the University of Virginia
1993Lt. Gen. Thomas Kelly (U.S. Army, retired), director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Desert Shield and Desert Storm
1994Hunter B. Andrews, state Senate majority leader
1995Installation of Paul E. Torgersen as president, with remarks on the presidential installation by the Honorable Thomas W. Moss Jr., speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates
2000Inauguration of Charles W. Steger Jr. as president, with remarks by David Rozelle, president of the University of Delaware and former Virginia Tech provost, and an inaugural address by Dr. Steger
2001Alfred Defago, Swiss ambassador to the United States
2002Charles W. Pryor Jr., president and CEO of Westinghouse
2003Barbara Pendergrass, Virginia Tech dean of students
2004Robert W. Goodlatte, U. S. Congressman
2005Mary Matalin and James Carville, political strategists
2006George Stephanopoulos, political commentator
2007Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, author, and TV commentator
2008Bob Schieffer, CBS News chief Washington correspondent and anchor of “Face the Nation.”
2009Michael Beschloss, presidential historian