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Virginia Tech Historical Data Book, Section 1.5:
The Conrad Years (1882-1886)

Conrad assumed his duties on Jan. 17, 1882, and immediately began reorganizing the college, choosing the 1879 reorganization plan as his guideline. This meant that military discipline would be extended into all phases of a student's life while at the college. When the board met later in the year it also decided to implement the 1879 suggestion to offer the bachelor of arts degree, in addition to the certificates of graduation already awarded. A new curriculum was drafted, which led to the degrees of civil engineer and mining engineer. The first degrees were awarded to two students (W.J. Havener and R.J. Noell) at the 1883 commencement; both received the bachelor of arts. Conrad also replaced the three academic department with four: agriculture, mechanical, literary and scientific, and business. In 1884, the college schedule was changed from two semesters to three quarters.

During Conrad's first year in office student morale began to rise, public confidence seemed to return, and the future seemed bright. R.R. Farr, the new state superintendent of public instruction, reported in the press that "Conrad seems to be solving the problem of how to mix learning with labor" and that noting the students' "military bearing and evolutions on the parade ... you would think they were all veteran soldiers; notice their gentlemanly deportment and you would be satisfied with the morals and discipline of the institution ... the college deserves the hearty support of the people of Virginia and seems to be receiving it."

Unfortunately for Conrad, he could not stay out of politics and became heavily involved on the side of the Readjusters in both the 1883 and 1885 state election campaigns, drawing a great deal of criticism at both times. When Fitzhugh Lee, a Democrat, was elected as governor in 1885 and the Readjuster party faded into oblivion, it was only a matter of time before Conrad would be ousted from office.

At its March 23, 1886, meeting a new board of visitors, acceptable to the Democrats, announced removal of all faculty and officers of the college effective July 1. Lindsay Lunsford Lomax was elected president to succeed Conrad.

When the board met July 1 it returned the college to the semester system.


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