Paul E. Torgersen graduated from Lehigh in 1953 with a BS in industrial engineering. He attended Lehigh on a tennis scholarship and was active in the engineering community. After studying at Lehigh, Torgersen went on to earn his M.S. and Ph.D. from Ohio State University, where he later taught and was awarded the Benjamin G. Lamme Meritorious Achievement Medal in 1990. Torgersen first arrived at Virginia Tech in 1967 as the Industrial Systems Department head. By 1970 he was Dean of Engineering. In 1988, he served as Interim President for 8 months.
In 1990, Torgersen became president of Virginia Tech's Corporate Research Center. He served as chairman of the engineering Deans' Council, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and has authored or co-authored five books - two translated into Japanese.
In 1993, he began a seven year term as the fourteenth President of Virginia Tech. During his term as president, he continued to teach at least one class per semester. During his terms as dean and as president, 62,191 diplomas presented to Virginia Tech graduates were signed by Paul E. Torgersen.
Upon his departure from Virginia Tech, a building and a bridge were named after him in 1999, as well as the Class of 2006's traditional ring collection.
In 1986, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and in 1997, Torgersen was awarded an honorary doctorate of engineering from Lehigh University.
Torgeson died on March 29, 2015 at the age of 83.