BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 14, 2008 – Thomas M. Murray of Radford, Va., Montague-Betts Professor of Structural Steel Design in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, was conferred the "professor emeritus" title by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors during the board's quarterly meeting on Nov. 3.
The title of emeritus may be conferred on retired professors and associate professors, administrative officers, librarians, and exceptional staff members who have given exemplary service to the university and who are specially recommended to the board of visitors by Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board of visitors receive an emeritus certificate from the university.
Murray joined Virginia Tech in 1987 after 17 years with the University of Oklahoma, the last year of which was spent as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University in 1962, he was employed as an engineer trainee with the Pittsburgh-Des Moines steel company, Des Moines, Iowa. In 1966 he received his master’s degree from Lehigh University, and in 1970 he received a Ph.D. in engineering mechanics from the University of Kansas.
A specialist in structural steel research and design, Murray was responsible for the construction of large laboratories at the University of Oklahoma and Virginia Tech. Murray founded Virginia Tech’s Structures and Materials Laboratory, where he and his graduate students developed alternate methods for connecting beams and columns in buildings in areas that experience high levels of seismic activity. His research and teaching interests include steel connections, pre-engineered building design, and light gage design.
Among Murray’s other accomplishments is the development of techniques for building lightweight, affordable floor systems that reduce vibrations in large steel and concrete structures, such as airports and shopping malls. A registered structural engineer, he has been a consultant to numerous state and national government agencies, industrial corporations, and engineering firms.
At Virginia Tech, the university’s Board of Visitors named Murray the Montague-Betts Professor of Structural Steel Design. He received a 2006 Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia. Murray was one of 15 college and university faculty selected that year from a statewide pool of nominees to receive the commonwealth’s highest honor for faculty.
He has served on several national committees in the American Society of Civil Engineers and a number of other professional organizations. In 1977, the American Institute of Steel Construction presented him with a special citation for contributions to the art of steel construction and in 1991 with the T. R. Higgins Lectureship Award. Murray is a member of both the American Institute of Steel Construction and the American Iron and Steel Institute specification committees.
In 2002 Murray was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, one of the highest honors that can be accorded an engineer. Academy membership recognizes those who have made important contributions to engineering theory and practice and have demonstrated unusual accomplishment in the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology.
He was the first recipient, in 1998, of the Charles E. Via Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Alumni Excellence Teaching Award, an honor accorded him again in 2003. The Virginia Tech student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers presented him with the Faculty of the Year Award in 2002.