John V. N. Dorr

Photo of John Dorr.John V. N. Dorr, Delta, 1890, Phi Alpha 1930-1931

John Van Nostrand Dorr (1872–1962), Delta, 1890, Phi Alpha 1930-1931, was an investor, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist. Dr. Dorr’s inventions had world-wide applications in the mining, chemical and sanitary industries. He was also a crusader for safety, whose efforts led to the painting edges of pavement of miles of U.S. highways. His work added two words to engineers’ vocabulary, the “Dorr Thickener” and the “Dorr Classifier.” In 1949, Chemical Engineering magazine wrote that Dr. Dorr’s inventions were “probably greater than any other chemical or metallurgical engineer in our times.”

Early in his career, Dorr worked for Thomas A. Edison and rose to be Vice President of Edison Engineers. Later he founded his own firms, Dorr Cyanide Machinery Company, the Dorr Company and Dorr-Oliver, Inc. Dr. Dorr founded the Dorr Foundation in 1950. He was President of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 1932 and was a Lifetime Trustee of
Rutgers University.

Brother Dorr received many awards in his lifetime, including, the Franklin Institute’s John Scott Medal in 1916, the Chemical Industry Medal in 1938, and the Perkin Medal by the Society of Chemical Industry in 1941. He was also a charter inductee into the National Mining Hall of Fame.

Dr. Dorr was a lifetime stalwart of Zeta Psi and the Delta chapter at Rutgers University.
In 1920, he called for Zeta Psi to establish a scholarship fund to assist undergraduates
matriculate. That vision led in 1947 to the founding of the Zeta Psi Educational
Foundation with Dr. Dorr being its inaugural President. In 1922, Dr. Dorr was
instrumental in the purchase of 31 East 29 th Street as the Zeta Psi Club of New York. Dr.
Dorr was recognized by the fraternity with its highest award, the Distinguished Service
Award in 1957.