Professor Herbert L. Toor, former Department Head of Chemical Engineering and Dean of CIT, passes.
Herbert L Toor: A lasting legacy -by Chriss Swaney
Carnegie Mellon University's Herbert Lawrence Toor, the emeritus Mobay Professor of Chemical Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy for more than 40 years, passed away Friday July 15 from Alzheimer's disease. A "Celebration of Life" ceremony is scheduled for August 6 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Lodge at Otter Creek in Middlebury, VT.
Toor, 84, whose research spanned extracting oil from shale to removing SO2 from stack gases, was instrumental in increasing the number of women and minorities into the university's engineering programs. In 1973, he served as dean of the engineering college for nine years and helped spearhead the creation of the innovative and unique Department of Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) at CMU.
"Herb was a wonderful guy who had enormous impact for the good on Carnegie Mellon, our engineering school and all of us who worked with him," said M. Granger Morgan, university Lord professor and head of the Department of Engineering and Public Policy. "Without his leadership our EPP department would not exist and there would be far fewer women in the world with CIT degrees."
Friends and peers lauded Toor for his pioneering spirit and great wit. At one point in his career, Toor often said that the most useful thing he had done in his life was turning a Pittsburgh clay backyard into great soil for growing vegetables through 40 years of composting.
Toor grew up in Philadelphia and enlisted in the U.S. Navy at age 17. After he was discharged as a seaman first class at the end of World War II, Toor earned a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering at Drexel University in 1948 and his masters and Ph.D. degrees in Chemical Engineering at Northwestern University where he met and married Elizabeth M. Weir of Edmonton Alberta, Canada.
In 1953, Toor became an assistant professor in Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon). His career matured and he went on to become a full professor, department head and later dean of the College of Engineering.
"He was a giant in his profession and an early pioneer in linking public policy and engineering issues and recruiting more diverse engineering students," said Pradeep K. Khosla, university professor and dean of Carnegie Mellon's top-ranked College of Engineering. "His impact is a lasting legacy for the college and the university."
Paul Sides, professor and associate head of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon, said "Toor is recognized as one of the top 100 chemical engineers of the 20th century. He had a profound influence both on the profession as a whole, and on its expression at Carnegie Mellon."
"He saw very early the importance of computation to engineering design, which led directly to the Department of Chemical Engineering's dominance in that area for the past several decades. "Toor's approach to engineering and leadership was rigorous and forward-thinking," said Sides.
An avid researcher, he contributed and wrote for more than 60 publications throughout his career. He was a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Association for the Advancement of Science. He also was a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
He received several awards over his long career, including the 1964 Colburn Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. After his retirement in the late 1990s from CMU, he was named Professor Emeritus and a lecture series was established in his name.