Virginia Tech was established as the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1872. Founded as a military college, today it is one of the few public colleges to maintain a corps of cadets. Over the next few decades the school evolved into a fully accredited university known as the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
In 1921, women finally enrolled as full-time students at Virginia Tech, but were not able to wear slacks on campus until 1968. That year also saw enrollment reach over 10,000 students and the graduation of Tech’s first black female, Linda Adams. In 1973, VT became the first school in the nation to open its corps of cadets to women.
In 1975, William Edward Lavery became Virginia Tech’s president and increased expenditures to emphasize research, moving Tech into the nation’s top 50 research universities by 1987. He also established the Corporate Research Center to enhance research opportunities. Today, VT is known as a top research university and receives significant external support for instruction, research, and public service projects.
Many of the buildings on Virginia Tech’s 2,600-acre campus are constructed of Hokie stone, a pale limestone found in southeast Virginia quarries and some surrounding areas of the Appalachian Mountains. Alumni Mall is the main road leading into campus with, at the end of which is War Memorial Chapel, at the head of the Drillfield, originally used by the Virginia Tech Corps of cadets for military drills. This large, oval field now sits at the center of campus and is enjoyed as a large open space.
Most academic buildings are to the northwest of the field, the library at its northeastern end, and residence halls to the southeast. Athletic fields are at the eastern edge of the campus. The campus also features a duck pond and the Hahn Horticultural Gardens.
Local sports announcers dub Blacksburg “College Town, USA” and the students give the town a young atmosphere. The Blacksburg community has a great relationship with Virginia Tech and local residents are often the school’s biggest fans on game days.
Virginia Tech is located in Blacksburg, in southwest Virginia’s New River Valley. Recognizing the town’s available natural resources for outdoor activities such as hiking and climbing, Outside magazine named Blacksburg one of the top 10 places to live in the country. During the summer months, college students will go down to the river to fish, kayak, and canoe, and Huckleberry Trail is popular for walking and biking.
Blacksburg can feel like a small town, but its downtown area offers plenty of things to do, including shopping at specialty retailers, dining at a variety of restaurants, and seeing a movie at the historic Lyric Theatre. The town is off of Interstate 81, and Roanoke is 30 minutes away, Charlottesville, and between four and five hours to Washington, DC.
From tailgates before the big game to hanging down by the river, the Hokies love their traditions. If you listen to the Skipper’s cannon fire outside of Lane Stadium when the football team enters the field and whenever they score, you’ll be participating in one such tradition.
Football games are a time for the community to come together and socialize. These events are traditions; they’re part of the experience of Virginia Tech. Out in the streets, anyone who yells, ‘let’s go!’ is sure to hear ‘Hokies!’ in response, even if they’re yelling at a total stranger. During these days, ordinary social barriers come down and it’s common for a tailgate of older Hokies to offer food and drinks to younger Hokies. The school does not feel so big on these days and anyone wearing orange or maroon is sure to be a friend.
Going to ‘the river’ is another campus-wide tradition, especially for students who stay around for either of the two summer sessions offered. With classes ending at noon daily during the summer, students are left with countless afternoons to relax and enjoy Blacksburg. Getting a group together and renting a tire to float down the river is a VT tradition that everyone’s done at some point during their time here.
Another unofficial tradition for the over-21 crowd is going out to bars during the week. Tuesdays and Thursdays are the big nights. Popular bars downtown are busier on these two weekdays than either of the weekend nights, and many students actually prefer the nightlife during the week. Some students even engineer their schedules so that the bulk of their classes are on these two days, giving them the freedom to stay up late and sleep in on Wednesdays and Fridays. Though this tradition is mostly carried out by seniors, many of the bars do allow ‘unders’ to come in with X’s on their hands, so it’s not off limits to younger students.
David Calhoun (1979) is currently the chairman and CEO of The Nielsen Company.
James H. Crumley (1969)is considered the founding father of camouflage.
Chet Culver is the governor of Iowa. A Democrat, Culver played football at Virginia Tech.
Dell Curry (1990) is a former NBA player for the Utah Jazz, Charlotte Hornets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Toronto Raptors.
Homer Hickam (1964) is a former NASA engineer who wrote the widely read autobiography Rocket Boys, upon which the1999 film October Sky is based.
Hoda Kotb (1986) is a co-anchor on the Today Show. The four-time Emmy Award nominee received the Peabody Award in 2006 for a Dateline NBC report.
Franklin Stubbs (1982) played Major League Baseball for the LA Dodgers, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers.
Pierre Thomas (1984) is the Justice Department correspondent for ABC News.
The Virginia Tech Hokies compete in NCAA Division I-A varsity sports including football, basketball, baseball, soccer, indoor and outdoor track, swimming and diving, wrestling, tennis, golf, and cross country for the men. Women's varsity sports include basketball, tennis, volleyball, swimming and diving, indoor and outdoor track, soccer, softball, lacrosse, and cross country.
Hokies first and foremost are football fans. Spirit and support for the team helps define life at VT and many people decide to come to Virginia Tech rather than any other Virginia school because of Tech football. In the fall, life is centered on game day. Attending a Hokie football game in Lane Stadium is an essential activity for all Virginia Tech students and the stadium itself is ranked the second loudest stadium in the country.
The women don’t do so bad themselves. In 2008, the Amateur Softball Association, the national governing body of softball in the United States, selected Virginia Tech's Angela Tincher as the recipient of the Seventh Annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award.
VT also participates in intramural and club sports that allow students to compete against programs from other colleges and universities across the country.
In 1896, a committee decided that Burnt Orange and Chicago Maroon would become the official school colors of Virginia Tech. The original school colors were black and cadet grey, but were deemed “convict colors” after they were seen on uniforms.
The most popular male names in the Class of 2008 are Matthew and Michael. The most popular female names are Jennifer and Jessica.
Virginia Tech is the 20th largest on-campus housing program in the country with 8,925 beds.
Top five home states after Virginia are (in order) — Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina, and New York.
Daniel Boone has an outstanding arrest warrant in Montgomery County, where Blacksburg is located, for not paying his bill.
Virginia Tech has a Seismological Observatory that monitors earthquake activity around the world.
All incoming freshmen are guaranteed on-campus housing for their first year at Virginia Tech, and the dorms are primarily occupied by freshmen. After the first year, a lottery system governs on-campus housing and about 5,000 housing slots are available to continuing students.
Some of the largest co-ed dorms are Lee Hall, West AJ, and East AJ. The largest all-male dorm is Pritchard, and the largest all-female dorm is Slusher Tower. Most students live in these dorms, which are located on the residential side of campus, across the Drillfield from the academic side. These dorms are in close proximity to the dining halls, and would probably be considered the most convenient and desired dorms. During the acceptance process, students are allowed to state their preference about whether or not they want to live in a co-ed dorm, but preference isn’t always met. All the co-ed dorms have community showers and bathrooms, so the girls have one end and the boys the other.
The dorms, aside from a few exceptions, are pretty old. They don’t have air-conditioning, but that’s only a problem for a few weeks out of the year. They are small; most people loft their beds to get more space. The walls are off-white, but they aren’t like the walls at home – they are made of cement-like blocks. The elevators are the destination of choice for many vandals.
Still, most people meet their best friends down the hall. Even after joining organizations, most people consider their closest friends to be those who they lived near their freshman year. It is a unique situation to be thrown into an environment where you’re suddenly surrounded by a huge number of people your age, and in your exact same situation. My advice is this: make the best of the dorms, and be sure to spend some time out of them. That sounds simple, but since most freshmen don’t have cars, it’ll take some effort to venture off-campus. Take advantage of the bus system – it’s comprehensive and will take you many places.