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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2011 / 10 

Virginia Tech engineering alumnus Joseph Collie honored for his service

October 12, 2011

Richard C. Benson and Joseph Collie
Joseph Collie, a 1950 graduate of Virginia Tech's Chemical Engineering Department, right, received the Virginia Tech Distinguished Service Award for the College of Engineering from Richard C. Benson, left, dean of the college.

Joe Collie, a 1950 graduate of Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering has received its Distinguished Service Award for 2011.

“Our college of engineering has more than 57,000 living alumni, and a significant number of them are extremely successful engineers, business people, and entrepreneurs, as well as practicing medical doctors, veterinarians, and lawyers, to name just a few diverse occupations our graduates will pursue. An engineering degree opens future doors to a wealth of occupations. So, for Mr. Collie to receive our Distinguished Service Award underscores his personal service to his profession and to our college,” said Richard C. Benson, dean of Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering.

"Joe Collie continues to be a great friend to the Department of Chemical Engineering.  His generosity and advice has made a difference in the quality of education that we offer to our students," added John Walz, the department head.

Collie, a chemical engineering alumnus, of Durham, N.C., was a combat infantryman in World War II, and when he returned to the United States, he used the G.I. bill to pay for his college education.

Upon his graduation he joined DuPont, and then spent some time at another smaller company. In 1969, Collie decided to pursue the American Dream and start his own company, Southchem, based in Durham, N.C.  He built this chemical distribution firm into a thriving business, one that he sold in 1992, but continued as a member of its board.

In 1995, Joe and his wife Barbara Collie presented Virginia Tech’s chemical engineering department with a $1 million gift.  He specified this money should be used to establish a chaired professorship dedicated to developing an interdisciplinary program in chemical distribution and marketing.

The Collie Professorship is awarded for a period of two years to a distinguished professor who has extensive industrial experience and expertise in production, marketing, and sales of chemical products to introduce chemical engineering students to advanced business and marketing concepts in chemicals distribution management.

This program is unique to Virginia Tech’s chemical engineering department. There are similar programs in colleges of business at other universities, but this was the first one specifically for chemical engineering in the nation.

Today, Collie is an active member of the chemical engineering Advisory Board, and he and his wife recently established another endowment, the Joseph and Barbara Collie Undergraduate Scholarship.

He is a member of the Ut Prosim Society of Virginia Tech, and has also served on the University’s Foundation Board.

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