Lynn Nystrom, director of news/external relations for VT Engineering, dies at 63

BLACKSBURG (VTNews) – Lynn A. Nystrom, longtime director of news and external relations for the Virginia Tech College of Engineering ( mentor to the hundreds of students and alumni, died Dec. 3 after a battle with cancer. She was 63.

Nystrom, who lived in Christiansburg, wrote thousands of stories promoting the research, discoveries, breakthroughs, and personalities of faculty, staff, alumni, and students within the College of Engineering. Through her work, Nystrom helped vault the College of Engineering into the national spotlight, helping it gain in stature among scores of rankings, including U.S. News & World Report (

She started working with Virginia Tech’s news bureau in December 1977, covering stories for the university, including the College of Engineering and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences ( Nystrom joined the College of Engineering two years later under then-dean Paul E. Torgersen as its first dedicated news director. Prior to her career at Virginia Tech, she was editor of the Blacksburg Sun, a weekly newspaper.

“Lynn’s impact is immeasurable. When I read her news releases about our faculty and staff, I swell with pride. I am especially moved by Lynn’s stories of our extraordinary students. Such talent! Such generosity! Such an Ut Prosim spirit!” said Benson. “Lynn has been the person who, more than any other, made the Virginia Tech College of Engineering into a family, from our newest undergraduates to our oldest alumni. At our times of triumph and happiness, Lynn found just the right words. At our times of loss and sadness, Lynn found just the right words. Who do we turn to now to find just the right words at the passing of this beloved member of the Virginia Tech Engineering family? I miss my dear friend.”

Nystrom mentored the Virginia Tech Student Engineers’ Counci (, a nonprofit, self-funded group run by undergraduates. The group has been recognized multiple times as the most successful philanthropic college student group of its kind in the nation.

Nystrom also served as adviser to The Collegiate Times (, Virginia Tech’s independent student newspaper and the oldest newspaper in Blacksburg, and Engineer’s Forum (, a student publication from its inception.

Nystrom was a member of the National Association of Science Writers, from which she won numerous awards. She was responsible for having Virginia Tech twice host the prestigious organization’s national conference. “Lynn was such a public-relations pro, veteran science writers sought her counsel,” added Hincker. “She knew many on a first-name basis and was a highly respected go-to colleague for them.”

She was a member of the Virginia Press Association and the Virginia Professional Communicators (formerly called Virginia Press Women), the latter from which she won a Distinguished Service Award. Nystrom had served on VPA's Professional Development Committee since 1999. VPA Assistant Director Kim Woodward called Nystrom "a valuable member" who came to meetings with an abundance of training ideas.

A native of Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, Nystrom is survived by her husband, Lawrence Newman, two step-daughters, Christy and Stacey; step-mother, Juanita Nystrom; several uncles, aunts, and life-long friends.

A celebration of her life is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16, at the German Club, 711 Southgate Drive, Blacksburg, Va. In lieu of flowers, the family is encouraging donations be made to the Student Engineers’ Council’s Lynn Nystrom Engineering Organization Fund via the Virginia Tech Foundation( or by check mailed to Virginia Tech, Engineering Dean’s Office (0217), 3046 Torgersen Hall, 620 Drillfield Drive, Blacksburg, VA 2406. Please make checks to Virginia Tech Foundation, memo line, “Lynn Nystrom Engineering Organization Fund.”

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