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Virginia Tech Historical Data Book, Section 1.13:
The Hahn Years (1962-1974)

1962 1964 1966 1968 1970 1972
1963 1965 1967 1969 1971

Please note: This material covers Hahn's administration until 1972, the time of the databook's publication.

Since Hahn's first day as president fell on a Sunday, his first working day was on Monday, July 2, exactly 100 years from the date on which Abraham Lincoln had signed the Morrill Land-Grant Act that gave birth to the events that eventually led to VAMC's founding 10 years later. In the decade after Hahn took office the university expanded and changed more rapidly in more different areas than in the previous 90 years of its existence.

It was quickly evident from the start of his administration that Hahn - at 35 the youngest president ever to head Virginia's land grant institution - was going to take the university down new roads, in new directions, and to new heights. Tradition, where it served the goals of the institution, would be kept; where tradition held back the institution's obvious capability of achieving distinction, it would be modified or discarded.

The first hint of change came with Hahn's constant reference to the institution as a university rather than a college. Over the next few years the new terminology would catch on with students, faculty, and staff, and before long a printed line, "Virginia's Land Grant University," would appear at the bottom of official stationery. Actually, the college had taken on many of the characteristics of a university during the Newman administration, but it was during the Hahn administration that those characteristics would reach full development.

On Oct. 5, 1964, the board of visitors agreed with Hahn's university-oriented directions for VPI and issued a statement elaborating on the institution's new mission. It was the first time in the history of VPI that a public commitment had been made toward developing the programs and facilities for a quality university education, rather than a technically oriented one.

In 1965, the Virginia Higher Education Study Commission suggested that the name of the institution incorporate the word "University" and agreed with the board of visitors' concept of a new mission for VPI, expanding programs through the doctoral level in non-science disciplines as well as in Tech's more traditional areas of concern. The 1970 Virginia legislature also recognized Tech's "coming of age" and approved a change of name for the institution - Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University - which became effective June 16, 1970.

The major events during the first decade of the Hahn administration are outlined below, by years:

1962-The last six months of 1962 saw the completion of several additions to the physical plant that had been started in the Newman administration: the second wing of Norris, Shultz Dining Hall, and Vawter and Barringer residence halls. Authorization for awarding bachelor of science degrees in English, history, and political science, requested by the Newman administration, was granted effective in September. The Hokie Club was chartered as part of the Student Aid Association. Enrollment in the fall was 5,682, up more than 300 from the previous year.


1963-The big news in 1963 was a request by the board of visitors to the governor for dissolution of the 1944 VPI-Radford College merger. The board pointed out that the growing programs of both institutions, including the graduate activities of VPI, required greater investment of time and energies than was possible by a single administration and governing board.

Physical plant additions included purchase of a 140-acre tract on U.S. 460 by the VPI Educational Foundation for development of a University Research Park, providing sites for research and highly technical industrial activity. Preliminary work at the site for the planned Lane Stadium was begun in the summer, and construction on Miles and Newman residence halls was started. A Federal Aviation Agency grant of $275,000 to help finance enlargement of the university's airport was announced.

In February, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway deeded 167 acres for the site of a new Tech branch college between Clifton Forge and Covington (now Dabney S. Lancaster Community College). In September, a new Tech branch at Wytheville opened (now Wytheville Community College).

Academic changes included establishment of Ph.D. programs in plant pathology and mechanical engineering and an M.S. program in extension education; and new teacher preparation programs in general science, biology, physics, chemistry, history, English, and mathematics.

The Coliseum (now Cassell Coliseum) had its first Commencement use in June, when 1,245 students graduated. The university got its first postal ZIP Code (24061) on July 1 and its first visiting scholar (Dr. Allardyce Nicoll, retired director of England's Shakespeare Institute) on Nov. 4. A $300,000 anonymous gift to establish the Visiting Scholars Program had been announced earlier in the year.

The student body was cheered by the football team's 8-2-0 record and first Southern Conference championship, and the student newspaper was named best college newspaper in its class by Pi Delta Epsilon, the national journalism honorary society. A new Dean of Students Office combined student-related services under a single head. Enrollment in the fall was up more than 300 for the second year in a row to 5,985.


1964-Two major events in 1964 would affect composition of the student body drastically in the years to come. The requested separation of VPI from Radford became effective July 1, setting the stage for a huge increase in the number of women students at Tech. All courses were opened to women in the fall, eliminating some of the former restrictions on liberal arts courses that were also offered at Radford. Another board of visitors decision - to make all participation in military programs optional - would be followed by a rapid decline of membership in the corps of cadets and an accompanying and even more rapid increase in the number of male Virginians who would choose VPI for their college education. The board's original decision on May 18 had left intact a requirement that freshmen and sophomore males be enrolled in ROTC for two years; but the board modified its decision on June 27 after Gov. A.S. Harrison Jr. requested a public hearing to listen to people opposed to the decision. After the hearing, the board reaffirmed its decision making the corps elective, but it changed the ROTC provision, restricting participation in ROTC to those who had chosen corps membership. It would be the first time in history that an able-bodied, undergraduate male could attend VPI for four years without participating in any military program. Although the voluntary corps decision caused considerable dissension in the pro-military alumni ranks at the time, C.E. Rowe, then president of the Alumni Association, commended the board and Hahn for "the fortitude to put the issue on the top of the table, when it had been under the table for so long."

Another major event of 1964 was general campus acceptance of the fact that VPI had finally become a university. In July, the academic schools changed their terminology to academic colleges, and printed references to VPI as Virginia's Land Grant College were changed to read Land Grant University. In October, the board of visitors passed a resolution committing itself to an effort to develop the facilities for a "quality university education."

Physical plant additions during the year included completion of Miles and Newman residence halls. Miles Stadium was razed and construction of the new Lane Stadium began.

Academic changes included separation of engineering and architecture into two schools (colleges). Architecture began a joint venture with George Washington University for graduate residence work in the Washington area in urban and regional planning. Tech's Clifton Forge-Covington branch (now Dabney S. Lancaster Community College) began operations in September.

A Development Council (composed of members from the board of visitors, Educational Foundation, Alumni Association, and Student Aid Association) was established during the year. The Alumni Association adopted a new set of by-laws that made it an operating unit of the university, rather than an independent organization, as was the case in the past.

Enrollment in the fall was 6,150, up about 500 from the year before; 319 were women students; 1,606 were cadets.


1965-Additions to the physical plant included completion of the west side stands and press box at Lane Stadium; completion of the Coliseum with the addition of 600 permanent seats; completion of a fruit and vegetable processing laboratory (now part of the Food Science Building); and completion of an outdoor track and the addition of several new all-weather tennis courts. Construction of Johnson, Lee, O'Shaughnessy, and Pritchard residence halls; the Continuing Education Center; and the new runway for the airport were begun during the year. The runway construction required removal of the railroad tracks serving Blacksburg; thus, the last remaining vestige of the old "Huckleberry" railroad vanished into memory. The university also purchased the old Blacksburg High School and Elementary School property at auction.

Several notable changes in the academic, Extension, and research areas occurred during the year. The bachelor of arts degree, last awarded in 1886, was reinstated; a new 4.0 grading system, replacing the former 3.0 system, was established; a special honors program for outstanding freshmen was inaugurated; a new psychology and sociology department was established; a graduate program leading to an M.S. in business with a major in accounting was established; the Cooperative Education Program was extended for the first time to the graduate level (in industrial engineering); and a new program in forest biometrics was begun. Tech was named to administer a new federal-state program of technical assistance to business and industry under the 1965 State Technical Services Act. A Virginia Cooperative Fisheries Research unit and a Water Resources Research Center were established on campus; and the university received a $300,000 anonymous gift to establish a Molecular Structures Laboratory.

The sports area provided big news during the year with the withdrawal of the university from the Southern Conference in the spring and the dedication of Lane Stadium and inauguration of Governor's Day in the fall.

A student referendum on the question of combining the civilian and cadet student governments was held in February. The civilians voted in favor, while the cadets voted against, thus defeating the consolidation.


1966-Physical plant changes during the year included the opening of Johnson residence hall in January and Lee and O'Shaughnessy residence halls in the fall; opening of part of one section of Pritchard residence hall in the fall and conversion of Eggleston from a male to female residence hall; completion of 7,000 east side seats in Lane Stadium and start of construction of the remainder; beginning of construction on Wallace and Cowgill halls and additions to Burruss Hall (west and rear), Food Science, Laundry, and Greenhouse.

The 1966 General Assembly established a universitywide Research Division, absorbing the Engineering and Agricultural Experiment Stations, and a universitywide Extension Division, consolidating Cooperative Extension, General Extension, State Technical Services, and other off-campus youth and continuing education programs. Both divisions became effective July 1. An administrative reorganization during the summer established the posts of vice president for administration and vice president for academic affairs; Offices of Institutional Research, Physical Plant Planning, and University Services and Auxiliary \ Enterprises; and a universitywide Division of Information Services.

The university's self-study was completed during the year, and the accreditation team from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools visited the campus. Much impressed, the team commented that "VPI for the past several years seems to have undergone more change than for the preceding quarter century, and it is hard to imagine a more dynamic institution." A state Higher Education Study Commission, created two years earlier by the General Assembly, issued its report and suggested that the name Virginia Polytechnic Institute did not give the public an accurate impression of the role and scope of the programs offered at the institution. The report said, in part: "A change of name with incorporation of the word 'university' in the new name would do much to give suitable recognition to the development that has occurred and will continue to occur in this thriving institution." It would be almost four years before the suggestion would be implemented.

Other events during the year included: inauguration of the first Upward Bound program; participation of all academic colleges in the summer orientation program, which had been started the previous year on a more limited basis; and transfer of Roanoke Technical Institute (now Virginia Western) to a new State Community College System.

On the student scene, the cadets and civilians finally voted to unify their student governments under one constitution and soon thereafter began to demand a stronger voice in running the affairs of the university. The football team compiled an 8-1 regular season record and was invited to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., losing to Miami (Fla.) 14-7. Frank Loria was selected to the first team All-America selections of Look magazine and the Associated Press.

Enrollment in the Fall was 8,395, up more than 1,300 from the preceding year. Coed enrollment almost doubled to 650, while cadet enrollment remained about 1,400.


1967-Building activity on campus included the start of construction on Derring Hall, the Continuing Education Center, and an expanded Squires Student Center; completion of Pritchard residence hall; and the beginning of construction on Ambler Johnston residence hall. Lane Hall was converted to use as an academic office building.

Tech's branches at Clifton Forge-Covington and Wytheville were turned over to the community college system July 1.

The Student Government Association conducted a preference referendum concerning recognition of social fraternities and received an overwhelming affirmative answer; then the association referred the question to the Student Activities Committee (now Commission for Student Affairs) for study.

Enrollment in Fall Quarter was 9,421, of which 1,033 were women (about three times as many as two years earlier); about 1,300 were cadets.


1968-Physical plant additions during the year included completion of the west and rear wings of Burruss Hall; the opening of the Continuing Education Center early in the year; and the completion of part of Ambler Johnston residence hall.

A Center for Study of Public Choice was established in cooperation with the Department of Economics. Three new vice presidential posts were announced during the year: executive vice president, vice president for finance, and vice president for student affairs.

VPI Facilities Inc., a non-profit corporation, was established during the year, taking over the former vending, snack bar, and bookstore operations of the Athletic Association.

Student concern over world issues and an increasing desire to be more involved in the decision-making processes of universities - expressed strongly on many other campuses for several years - became more pronounced at Tech during 1968.

A pre-opening orientation for new cadets was begun prior to fall quarter. The football team's 7-3-0 record got them an invitation to a second Liberty Bowl game in December and an accompanying 34-17 loss to Mississippi. Enrollment in the fall was 10,289. For the first time, women students outnumbered cadets: 1,250 to 1,100.


1969-Construction activity included completion of the first wing of Derring Hall, completion of Cowgill Hall, start of construction on the Anaerobic Bacteriology Laboratory, and the reopening of Squires Student Center (though incomplete).

A new academic title, "University Professor," was established "to honor certain outstanding faculty members whose international reputations in their respective fields have added to the stature of the university."

Virginia State College announced that it would merge its agriculture department with the College of Agriculture at Tech. The State Council on Higher Education recommended the step, but the announcement provoked so much opposition from Virginia State students that the General Assembly passed a law prohibiting the merger the following year.

A Faculty Senate, whose main purpose is to articulate faculty views on campus policies and procedures, was approved by the board of visitors.

A student who had been denied readmission to the university because of his participation in a peaceful demonstration at the June Commencement won a legal battle against the university when the Circuit Court of Appeals directed the university to readmit him. The court, in effect, upheld the rights of students to express peaceful on-campus dissent "as long as it does not disrupt or obstruct normal activities." Enrollment in Fall Quarter was 11,028; coed enrollment rose to 1,751, while cadet enrollment dipped to about 925.


1970-The Virginia General Assembly approved Tech's request for a name change, and the university legally became Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University on June 23.

Construction completed during the year included the Anaerobic Bacteriology Laboratory, east wing of Burruss Hall, Dietrick Dining Hall, third phase of Food Science, and the finishing touches to Squires Student Center.

The Honors Program was extended throughout four years, allowing students who complete requirements in the program to earn their bachelor degree "in honors." At the same time, an existing recognition "with honors" (based on grade average) was changed to "with distinction" (effective at 1971 Commencement).

A new Communities Study Center, administered by the College of Architecture, was established at Reston. The R.J. Reynolds homestead in Patrick County was given to the university and used to establish the Reynolds Homestead Research Center for forestry research. A Center for Environmental Studies was activated in November.

The question of recognition for social fraternities continued during the year when Sigma Phi Epsilon chartered a local group living in town and the Cotillion Club voted itself out of existence (after 57 years of on-campus recognition) to affiliate with Pi Kappa Alpha. The student senate introduced legislation in the fall calling for recognition of the fraternities, and the question was put through channels for action.

Considerable disturbance erupted on campus in the spring when a group of students and two faculty members interfered with cadet drill and forced the university to seek an injunction against further disruptive activities by the individuals involved. The injunction provoked another demonstration by about 300 students in front of Burruss Hall. About a month later Virginia state troopers had to be called to forcibly evict a group of about 100 students who had locked themselves into Williams Hall. Many of the students were arrested and later convicted.


1971-Physical plant changes during the year included: completion of most of a new Field House (now Rector Field House); the addition of a wing to Hillcrest; the completion of the first phase of Whittemore Hall and Cheatham Hall; completion of McBryde Hall (except for a large auditorium); the addition of a new boiler plant and central refrigeration plant; the start of construction on Slusher residence hall; and the installation of two asphalt walkways across the Drillfield.

Academic changes included: addition of a seventh academic college, the College of Education, formed from Arts and Sciences July 1; a change in name for the College of Agriculture with the addition of the words "and Life Sciences"; and approval of a two-year ROTC program. A five-day class week replaced the former six-day week effective in the fall.

Individual Commencement programs in each academic college were held in addition to an all-university program for the first time in June.

The University Council and board of visitors both approved recognition of off-campus social fraternities "in principle" and called for a study of how to implement the recognition, scheduled for 1972. A limited campus bus service was started in the fall.

The largest and most violent student demonstrations to date took place in the spring of 1971, following a University Council decision requiring residence hall room doors to remain open at least six inches when a student was entertaining a member of the opposite sex. A protest rally of between 500-1,000 students and a few non-students was held on campus May 24, followed by a march into downtown Blacksburg, where a few store windows were broken. Another demonstration, attended by about 2,000 was held the following day, and later that night several more windows downtown were broken. The next day a large group marched on the women's section of Ambler Johnston, and a few were able to push their way into the living areas. State troopers were called to the scene, but the intruders had left by the time they arrived. The troopers had to go to Squires Student Center later in the evening after a report was received that a group would enter the center intent upon vandalism; no serious incidents occurred, however. Several bomb threats were made over the next few days, necessitating the closing of Williams Hall for about two hours; no explosives were found. About 3 a.m. on the morning of May 29 a fire burned down Bldg. 253 (old Extension Apartment House); arson was suspected but never proved. On May 30, a homemade tear gas bomb was detonated under a table in the snack bar in Squires, and 70 students had to be evacuated. Most of the students who had been demonstrating were shocked by the burning of Bldg. 253 and the other acts of destruction and, wanting no part of such events, stopped participating in demonstrations. The campus then returned to relative normalcy.

The board of visitors decided during the year that 21,000 students should be the maximum enrollment capacity for the university; they foresaw that number on campus by 1980.

Enrollment in the Fall Quarter was 13,282; coed enrollment jumped by more than 800 to 3,491; cadet enrollment slipped to about 575, the lowest number since the 1918-19 session.


1972-The University's centennial year began with University Council approval on Jan. 5 of a Task Force for Innovative Approaches to Instruction, which was to seek and consider a wide variety of new ideas for improved instruction and recommended to the university those new approaches that should be established at Tech.

Publication of the first comprehensive history of the university, The First 100 Years: A History of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, written by D. Lyle Kinnear, came in March. The first official observance of Tech's centennial year followed on March 24 with a convocation in the Coliseum and a commemorative meeting of the board of visitors.


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Last Modified on: Tuesday, 25-Sep-2001 08:16:06 EDT