Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, better known as Virginia Tech, at Blacksburg; land-grant and state supported; coeducational; chartered and opened 1872 as an agricultural and mechanical college. In 1896 it became Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute. In 1944 its name was shortened to Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and in 1970 its present name was adopted. A women's division at Radford (Radford College, opened 1913 as a state normal school, later a state teachers college) was consolidated with the institute in 1944. The university maintains research centers in industrial relations, the environment and hazardous waste materials, water resources, and child development, as well as numerous agricultural research stations throughout the state. It is Virginia's largest university.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, better known as Virginia Tech, is a public land grant polytechnic university in Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S. Although it is a comprehensive university with many departments, the agriculture, engineering, architecture, forestry and veterinary medicine programs from its historical polytechnic core are still considered to be among its strongest.

Founded as a military college, Virginia Tech is one of the few public universities in the United States which continues to maintain a corps of cadets (a full-time military training program). Virginia Tech is one of the six senior military colleges (five are public, one private) due to the nature and presence of the corps of cadets.

The Virginia Tech campus is located in the New River Valley in the Valley and Ridge physiographic region of the Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Virginia, a few miles from the Jefferson National Forest in Montgomery County.


In 1872, the Virginia General Assembly purchased the facilities of Preston and Olin Institute, a small Methodist school in rural Montgomery County with federal funds provided by the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act. The Commonwealth incorporated a new institution on that site, a state-supported land grant military institute called the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College.

Under the 1891–1907 presidency of John M. McBryde, the school reorganized its academic programs into a traditional four-year college setup (including the renaming of the mechanics department to engineering); this led to an 1896 name change to Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute. The "Agricultural and Mechanical College" section of the name was popularly omitted almost immediately, though the name was not officially changed to Virginia Polytechnic Institute until 1944 as part of a short-lived merger with what is now Radford University. VPI achieved full accreditation in 1923, and the requirement of participation in the Corps of Cadets was dropped from four years to two that same year (for men only; women, when they began enrolling in the 1920s, were never required to join).

VPI President T. Marshall Hahn, whose tenure ran from 1962 to 1974, was responsible for many of the changes that shaped the modern institution of Virginia Tech. The merger with Radford was dissolved in 1964, and in 1966, the school dropped the two-year Corps training requirement for its male students. In 1973, women were allowed to join the Corps; Virginia Tech was the first school in the nation to open its corps of cadets to women.

One of Hahn's more controversial missions was only partially achieved. He had visions of renaming the school from VPI to Virginia State University, reflecting the status it had achieved as a full-fledged public education & research university. As part of this move, Virginia Tech would have taken over control of the state's other land-grant institution, a historically black college in Ettrick, Virginia, south of Richmond, then called Virginia State College. This plan failed to take root, and that school eventually became Virginia State University. As a compromise, VPI added "and State University" to its name in 1970, yielding the current formal name of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. In the early 1990s, the school quietly authorized the official use of Virginia Tech as equivalent to the full VPI&SU name. Many school documents today use the shorter name, though diplomas and transcripts still spell out the formal name. Similarly, the abbreviation VT is far more common today than VPI or VPI&SU, and appears everywhere, from athletic uniforms, to the university's Internet domain name


Virginia Tech presidents
Charles Minor 1872–1880
John Lee Buchanan March 1, 1880–August 12, 1880
Scott Shipp August 12, 1880–August 25, 1880
John Lee Buchanan May 1881–1882
Thomas Nelson Conrad 1882–1886
Lunsford Lindsay Lomax 1886–1891
John McLaren McBryde 1891–1907
Paul Brandon Barringer 1907–1913
Joseph Dupuy Eggleston 1913–1919
Julian Ashby Burruss 1919–1945
John Redd Hutcheson 1945–1947
Walter Stephenson Newman 1947–1962
T. Marshall Hahn 1962–1974
William Edward Lavery 1975–1987
James Douglas McComas 1987–1993
Paul Torgersen 1993–2000
Charles W. Steger 2000–present

Virginia Tech offers 80 bachelor's degree programs and 140 Master's and Doctoral degree programs through the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the College of Architecture & Urban Studies, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, the Pamplin College of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Natural Resources, the College of Science, and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers the only two-year associate's degree program on campus, in agricultural technology. The ten most popular majors for the incoming class of 2005 were University Studies (Undeclared), General Engineering, Business (Undeclared), Biology, Communication, Psychology, Marketing, Political Science, Animal and Poultry Sciences, and Architecture. Virginia Tech's endowment is known as the Virginia Tech Foundation, and as of 2007 total assets, gifts, and funds equal $524.7 million USD. Virginia Tech's operating budget for the 2007–2008 school year is $967 million.

Virginia Tech ranked 29th among national public universities and 71st among all national universities. Its College of Engineering undergraduate program was ranked 8th among public engineering schools and 14th in the nation among all accredited engineering schools that offer doctorates. Seven different undergraduate programs in the College of Engineering are ranked in the top 20 among peer programs nationally - the industrial engineering program is ranked 6th; engineering science and mechanics, 8th; civil engineering, 11th; environmental engineering, 14th; mechanical engineering, 14th; aerospace engineering, 14th; and electrical engineering, 17th. Its Pamplin College of Business undergraduate program is ranked 24th among the nation's public institutions and 41st overall. The architecture and landscape architecture programs in Virginia Tech's College of Architecture and Urban Studies are ranked among the very best in America. In its 2008 report, DesignIntelligence (the only national college ranking survey focused exclusively on design) ranked the undergraduate architecture and urban/regional studies program 1st nationally among both public and private universities. The graduate architecture program ranked 5th in the nation and 1st among public universities. In its 2007 report, DesignIntelligence ranked the university’s undergraduate and graduate interior design programs 7th and 5th respectively.

Programs in the College of Natural Resources consistently rank among the top of their type in the nation. The college's wildlife program is ranked first by its peers, and the fisheries program is ranked second. In a recently published study of the research impact of North American forestry programs, the Journal of Forestry ranked Virginia Tech's programs second on the perceptions-based composite score and third on the citations- and publications-based index.

On January 3 2007 Virginia Tech along with Carilion Health System announced the creation of a new medical school that will be a joint venture between the two organizations. The first class is scheduled to be admitted in either 2009 or 2010. The new medical school will have approximately 40 students per class, making it a very small medical school. It will be located in Roanoke next to the Carilion Health System hospital.

The Virginia Tech Stability Wind Tunnel, directed by Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Professor William Devenport, is the largest university-owned anechoic wind tunnel in the United States.


U.S. News & World Report's “America's Best Colleges 2008” (fall 2007)

Virginia Tech ranked 29th among national public universities. Among national universities, Virginia Tech ranked 71st. The Virginia Tech College of Engineering undergraduate program was ranked 14th in the nation (tied with Johns Hopkins and Northwestern) among all accredited engineering schools that offer doctorates. It was eighth among engineering schools at public universities. Six Virginia Tech undergraduate engineering specialties ranked among the top 20 of their respective peer programs (aerospace engineering, 14th; civil engineering, 11th; electrical engineering, 17th; engineering science and mechanics, 8th; environmental engineering, 14th; industrial engineering, 6th (tied with Stanford as of 2009 rankings); and mechanical engineering, 14th).

The Pamplin College of Business undergraduate program is ranked 41st among the nation's undergraduate business programs and 24th among public institutions. Pamplin's overall ranking places it in the top 10 percent of the approximately 460 U.S. undergraduate programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International.

Virginia Tech was also recognized as having one of the top 14 cooperative education and internship programs in the nation.

Virginia Tech ranks in the top 20 public colleges and universities nationally among colleges that offer a first-class educational experience at a bargain price, according to Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine.

The architecture and landscape architecture programs in Virginia Tech's College of Architecture and Urban Studies are ranked among the very best in America. In its 2007 report, DesignIntelligence (the only national college ranking survey focused exclusively on design) ranked the undergraduate architecture program fourth nationally and first among public universities. DesignIntelligence also ranked the university’s undergraduate interior design program seventh in the nation.


The Virginia Tech campus is located in Blacksburg, Virginia. The central campus is roughly bordered by Prices Fork Road to the northwest, Plantation Drive to the west, Main Street to the east, and US 460 Bypass to the south, though it has several thousand acres beyond the central campus. The university has established branch campuses in Hampton Roads (Virginia Beach), the National Capital Region (Falls Church - Alexandria, Virginia), Richmond, Roanoke, and the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon.

The Blacksburg campus is arranged rather uniquely in comparison to other universities. In the center of campus lies the Drillfield, which is a large oval field running Northeast to Southwest, encircled by a one way street known as Drillfield Drive. The Drillfield's name stems from its historical use by the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets to conduct military drills. An underground river underneath the drillfield makes the land unsuitable for building, protecting it as an open space on campus. On the northwestern side of the Drillfield lies the majority of the academic and administrative buildings, including Burruss and McBryde halls. On the southeastern side of the Drillfield lies the majority of the residential buildings, including the residence halls, dining halls, and War Memorial Gym. Newman Library is located on the eastern side of campus and connects to Torgersen Bridge, which spans the main road into campus, Alumni Mall. North of the Drillfield and northwest of Alumni Mall lies the Upper Quad, known to many students as military campus. The Upper Quad is home to the Corps of Cadets' barracks and Shultz Dining center.

On the Blacksburg campus, the majority of the buildings incorporate Hokie Stone as building material. In fact, it is now official university policy that all new buildings must incorporate the stone into their design. Hokie Stone is generally gray, shaded by hues of brown and pink. The limestone is mined from various quarries in Southwestern Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama - one of which has been operated by the university since the 1950s. However, while it is true that the majority of buildings on campus incorporate Hokie Stone into their design, there are a few notable exceptions. For example, all buildings in the Upper Quad, which includes Lane and Shultz Halls, are constructed of red brick. Also, a number of academic buildings were not constructed using Hokie Stone, as they were built before the institution of the rule mandating its use in all new university buildings.

In 2007, Virginia Tech was ranked #1 by the The Princeton Review under the category of "Best Campus Food". It has seven dining centers which included Squires food court (Au Bon Pain & Sbarro), Owens Food Court, Hokie Grill (Chick-fil-A, Pizza Hut, Cinnabon), D2 & DXpress, Shultz & Shultz Express, Deet's Place, and the high end West End Market. Virginia Tech also has a catering center, Personal Touch Catering.


Virginia Tech's sports teams are called the Hokies, except for the swim team which uses a variant ("H2Okies", a play on the chemical formula for water). Tech teams participate in the NCAA's Division I in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which the school joined in 2004 after leaving the Big East. Along with all other ACC schools, Tech's football team competes in Division I FBS, the higher of two levels of Division I competition in that sport.

The Hokie Bird is a turkey-like creature whose form has evolved from the original school mascot of the Fighting Gobbler. While the modern Hokie Bird still resembles a Fighting Gobbler, the word "Hokie" has all but replaced Fighting Gobbler in terms of colloquial use. The term originated from the Old Hokie spirit yell, in which there was no particular meaning indicated for the word.

The stylized VT (the abbreviation for Virginia Tech) is used primarily by the athletic department as a symbol for Virginia Tech athletic teams. The "athletic VT" symbol is trademarked by the university and appears frequently on licensed merchandise.

During the early years of VPI, a rivalry developed between it and Virginia Military Institute. This rivalry developed into the original "Military Classic of the South," an annual football game between VMI and VPI usually held on Thanksgiving Day in Roanoke, Virginia. That series ended after the 1984 season; VMI had elected to play at the Division I-AA level, now Division I FCS, after the NCAA's 1978 divisional split for football, and the schools' wide disparity in size had led to a similar imbalance in results. Another long-standing and important rivalry is between Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia. The Virginia-Virginia Tech rivalry strengthened in concurrence with Tech's growth during the 1960s and 1970s and is now the Hokies' primary program-wide athletic rivalry. The two schools compete in football for the Governor's "Commonwealth Cup" each season.

Virginia Tech's fight song, Tech Triumph, was written in 1919 and remains in use today. Tech Triumph is played at sporting events by both the Virginia Tech band, The Marching Virginians, and the Corps of Cadets' band, the Highty Tighties. The Old Hokie spirit yell, written in 1896 and used to this day, is familiar to many Virginia Tech fans. This chant is also where the word Hoki (since modified to "Hokie") originally appeared.

Virginia Tech Baseball

Chuck Hartman, who retired as the Virginia Tech baseball coach in 2006, finished his career as the fourth winningest coach in Division I baseball history with a 1,444-816-8 record, including a 961-591-8 mark in his 28 seasons at Tech. Peter Hughes from Boston College is now the new coach for Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech basketball (men's)

Virginia Tech's men's basketball team has seen a resurgence of fan support since the arrival of coach Seth Greenberg in 2003-04 and its entry into the ACC in 2004-05. Prior to Coach Greenberg's arrival in Blacksburg, the Virginia Tech men had not had a winning season since the 1995–1996 season when they received a bid to the NCAA tournament, and the team did not even make the Big East tournament its first three seasons in the conference. Greenberg's squad finally made the Big East tournament in 2003-04, then a year later scored their first postseason berth in nine years when they made the NIT in 2004-05 as a first-year ACC school. In the 2006-07 season, Greenberg's Hokies finished with a 10–6 record in the ACC and 22-12 record overall, earning its first NCAA tournament berth in 11 years, and reaching the NCAA second round before losing to Southern Illinois.

Virginia Tech basketball (women's)

Virginia Tech's women's basketball team, led by coach Beth Dunkenberger, is a fixture in postseason play, having received a berth to the NCAA tournament each season from 2003 to 2006. Virginia Tech's women have been in postseason play every year since the 1997-98 season, Bonnie Henrickson's first season as the head coach of the Hokies, earning seven NCAA berths and three NIT appearances during that stretch.

Both basketball teams play their home games in Cassell Coliseum.

Virginia Tech football

Virginia Tech's football team plays home games in Lane Stadium. While, at a capacity of 66,233, it is relatively small in comparison to many other Division I-A stadiums, it is still considered to be one of the loudest stadiums in the country. In 2005, it was recognized by as having the best home field advantage in college football. This is due in part to the fact that the stadium has a long history of traditions that foster increased participation by the fans, the corps of cadets, and the bands. Also, especially since Lane was expanded in 2004, the stadium is built in a way that naturally retains sound so as to amplify crowd noise.

Head coach Frank Beamer has become one of the winningest currently active head coaches in Division I-A football with 198 wins following the 2006 season. Beamer's teams are known for solid special teams play (affectionately called Beamer Ball) and for tough defenses headed by defensive coordinator Bud Foster. The Hokies currently have the fourth longest bowl streak in the country, having participated in bowl games in each of the last 15 seasons. Since the 1995 season, the Hokies have finished with a top-10 ranking five times, won five conference championships (three Big East and two ACC), and played once for the national championship, losing to Florida State 46–29 in the 2000 Sugar Bowl. Currently Virginia Tech is one of only two teams to have 4 straight 10-win seasons in Division I-A football. Annually, Virginia Tech plays its traditional rival, the University of Virginia, for the Commonwealth Cup.

Virginia Tech soccer (men's)

Virginia Tech's men's soccer team has improved greatly since the arrival of Oliver Weiss, who has coached the team since 2000. Under Weiss, Tech has made four NCAA tournament appearances, including a trip to the College Cup in 2007. The Hokies finished the 2007 regular season ranked third nationally .

Virginia Tech softball

Virginia Tech Softball has made a name for itself by shutting out team USA in 2008 and advancing to the Women's College World Series for the first time ever. Emerging as a true ACC competitor the team now ranks amongst the elite in the softball world, though with the loss of all-American pitcher Angela Tincher it is unknown how the team will fare in the future.

Corps of Cadets

The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets (VTCC) is one of only two military organizations established as an integral part of a major United States civilian, public university; the other is Texas A&M University. Both are Senior Military Colleges. The Corps of Cadets has existed from the founding the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1872 and enrollment in the program was mandatory until 1964, when Virginia Tech first began allowing students to follow a strictly civilian track. Cadets live together in dormitories, march to meals in formation, wear a distinctive uniform on campus, and receive an intensive military and leadership educational experience similar to that available at the United States military academies. Unlike the US service academies, however, VTCC cadets are not required to engage in compulsory military service upon graduation, with as many as 20% of cadets in any given year electing to pursue a civilian career upon graduation.

Affiliated institutions

Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine

In 2003, a school of osteopathic medicine called the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) opened in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, an office park adjacent to and owned and operated by the university as a local business incubator. VCOM is incorporated as a private, non-profit institution with no state interest, but it is very closely affiliated with Virginia Tech on an operational level.

Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center

Virginia Tech also owns the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center which was donated to the university by Norfolk Southern in 1989, the hotel is managed by Doubletree Hotels, a division of the Hilton Hotels Corporation.

School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences

In 2002, a biomedical engineering program, called the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences (SBES), was created as a cooperative venture between Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University. SBES offers opportunities to undergraduates and grants M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in biomedical engineering.

T.C. Williams School of Law

Virginia Tech has recently developed a relationship with the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond located in Richmond, Virginia. The relationship consists of a joint degree program between the VT College of Science and Richmond Law, which allows a student entering VT to earn both a B.S. from VT and a J.D. from Richmond in a total of six years.

Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine

The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, founded in 1978, is a separate institution on the same campus, funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia and the state of Maryland and jointly operated by VT and the University of Maryland. VMRCVM and VT jointly operate an equine center in Leesburg, Virginia, and VMRCVM has a small operation on the University of Maryland's College Park, Maryland campus.

Virginia Bioinformatics Institute

The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute' (VBI) is a premier bioinformatics, computational biology, and systems biology research facility that opened on the Blacksburg campus of Virginia Tech in 2000. It houses over two-hundred employees, multiple supercomputing clusters, and several DNA sequencers, including a massively-parallel high-throughput Roche GS-FLXsequencer. VBI is dedicated to the study of the biological sciences. The research platform of VBI focuses on the "disease triangle" of host-pathogen-environment interactions. By using bioinformatics, which combines transdisciplinary approaches to information technology and biology, researchers at VBI interpret and apply vast amounts of biological data generated from basic research to some of today’s key challenges in the biomedical, environmental and agricultural sciences. Work at VBI involves collaboration in diverse disciplines such as mathematics, epidemiology, computer science, biology, plant pathology, biochemistry, systems biology, statistics, economics and synthetic biology. The institute develops genomic, proteomic and bioinformatic tools that can be applied to the study of infectious diseases as well as the discovery of new vaccine, drug and diagnostic targets.

Virginia Tech Center for European Studies and Architecture

The Virginia Tech Center for European Studies and Architecture (CESA) is Virginia Tech's European campus center and base for operations and support of its programs in the region surrounding Riva San Vitale, a small village in the canton Ticino in southern Switzerland. Housed in the 250 year old Villa Maderni, the Virginia Tech Center for European Studies and Architecture provides a varying degree of academic programs for the undergraduate and graduate students of Virginia Tech. The main offering of the center is its student residence program. In this program, students live in Riva San Vitale and attend classes in the Villa Maderni learning facilities and participate in field trips around Europe that pertain to the current lessons of the program. Other offerings of the center includes summer study abroad programs.

Virginia Tech Foundation

The Virginia Tech Foundation, Inc. was formed in 1948 to receive, manage, and disburse private gifts in support of the programs and missions of Virginia Tech. The Foundation is run as a 501(c)(3) corporation governed by a board of directors. The Rector of the Board of Visitors, the president of the Alumni Association, the president of the Athletic Fund, and the president of the University are all members of the Foundation board. The remainder of the board is composed members who are elected by vote of the boards existing members.

Subsidiaries of the Virginia Tech Foundation include Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, the Hotel Roanoke, the National Public Radio affiliate WVTF Roanoke FM 89.1, the Center for European Studies and Architecture, and the Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech.

Research computing

In 2003, Virginia Tech created a supercomputer which ranked as the 3rd fastest in the world. The system was made from 1100 dual processor Power Macintosh G5s and cost US$5.2 million. The supercomputer, called System X, was disassembled shortly after it was ranked in order for it to be replaced with Apple's rack-based servers which consume both less space and power. Virginia Tech is in the early stages of developing a replacement for System X.

Internet networking research is an important part of Virginia Tech's history. It has participated in Suranet, Internet2, Abilene, the Lambda Rail and other such networks. Virginia Tech also participates in the management of Net.Work.Virginia and the Mid Atlantic Crossroads.

Virginia Tech plans to have a second supercomputer running by the fall of 2008. The unit will be made of 324 Mac Pro Towers with a theoretical computing capacity of 29 teraflops. The computer is not a replacement for System X and will not be used in the same manner. The new supercomputer will be a purely computer science research system. Uses will include research studying two main areas: power-aware software systems that can adjust performance automatically to maximize efficiency, and distributed shared memory systems that can run existing threaded code on high-performance clusters.


See also


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