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Inspire Awards 2008 Honorees

Liviu Librescu, Hero

"Today I feel as though my own father has died," remarked a Virginia Tech alumnus upon hearing of the death of his former mentor, Liviu Librescu, Ph.D., the professor who saved lives by physically barricading the classroom door during last April's deadly on-campus shooting. Such was Librescu's impact on those whose lives he touched. A courtly, old-world gentleman who tended toward jackets and ties and never slouched, Librescu, 76—a distinguished aeronautics engineer who doted on his wife, Marilena, two sons, and grandson—was a Holocaust survivor who, as a youth, had been confined to a Jewish ghetto in his native Romania. "He resisted the Communist regime in Romania," says Robert Heller, Ph.D., a Hungarian Holocaust survivor and fellow Virginia Tech engineering professor, "and he died so as to not allow a tyrant to rule over him or his students." Such an act of heroism is always surprising, says Ishwar Puri, Ph.D., head of the Engineering Science and Mechanics Department: "His sacrifice means that service to students is now etched indelibly in the tradition at Virginia Tech." 

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