Monday, January 26, 2015
Heroes You Should Know: Liviu Lebrescu
Liviu Librescu had faced death many times before his final hour of life on the campus of Virginia Tech University. He had survived the Nazis, the Holocaust, and relocation to a labor camp. And he had endured over thirty years of Communist oppression in his native Romania. In between, he’d earned a Ph.D., and become a scientist and research professor.
Because he refused to swear allegiance to the Communist party, Librescu’s career stalled. But in 1978 he was finally allowed to immigrate to Israel, and eventually to the United States as a professor of Engineering at Virginia Tech.
For the next two decades, his professional life blossomed as he lectured, conducted research, had hundreds of articles published, and served on the editorial boards of numerous scientific journals. He was known internationally, and was a beloved teacher and a devoted family man.
On the morning of April 16, 2007, a deranged student entered the engineering building where Dr. Librescu was lecturing. As gunfire and screaming echoed in the hallway, Librescu ordered the students to exit the room through windows. Meanwhile, he headed for the door, and threw his body in front of it just as the gunman was attempting to enter.
By blocking the entrance to the classroom, the professor kept the madman out long enough for twenty-two of his twenty-three students to escape without harm. Librescu was shot five times in the process, and died on the scene.
Dr. Liviu Librescu taught engineering…and so much more.
He is a hero you should know. And I’m Dr. Ross Porter.