Vergil H. Dykstra, university president

Wednesday, January 19, 2011; 8:29 PM

Vergil H. Dykstra, 85, who served as president of George Mason University during the 1970s before retiring as an administrator at Montgomery College in Rockville, died Dec. 31 at the Capital Hospice in Arlington County of complications from a stroke.

Dr. Dykstra was a professor of philosophy before he arrived at George Mason in 1973. He led the university until 1977, in the years immediately after the school was made independent of its onetime parent institution, the University of Virginia. It was a period of rapid growth as the school built facilities and added undergraduate and graduate programs.

After leaving George Mason, Dr. Dykstra was an administrative vice president at Montgomery College until retiring in 1989. He then worked as a consultant to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the International Executive Services Corps.

Vergil Homer Dykstra was born in Harrison, S.D., and grew up in Iowa. He served in the Navy during World War II and was a 1949 honors graduate of Hope College in Holland, Mich.

He received a master's degree and doctorate in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin.

Before moving to Northern Virginia, he taught courses in disciplines including philosophy, ethics and logic at the University of Cincinnati, the University of Oregon, the University of Minnesota and what is now Binghamton University in New York.

Dr. Dykstra's two marriages, to Shirley Leslie and Wanda Rappaport, ended in divorce.

Survivors include four children from his first marriage, Leslie Dykstra and Kevin Dykstra, both of Fairfax City, Lynne D. Perry of Jacksonville, Fla., and Craig D. Dykstra of Centreville; five grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

- Emma Brown

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