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Time Line of the History of Virginia Tech

by Peter Wallenstein and Tamara Kennelly


Olin and Preston Institute established, a Methodist academy


Congress passes a bill, introduced by Vermont Congressman Justin S. Morrill, to help finance agricultural and mechanical education in every state, but President James B. Buchanan vetoes it on states' rights grounds


Congress passes, and President Abraham Lincoln signs, the Morrill Land-Grant College Act


Olin and Preston is rechartered as the Preston and Olin Institute


The Virginia legislature passes, and Governor Gilbert C. Walker signs, a bill establishing the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College in Blacksburg for white male students and allocating two-thirds of the state's land-grant fund to it (Hampton Institute, a school for black students, gets the other one-third)

Charles L. C. Minor is VAMC's first president (1872-79)

VAMC acquires the one buildings and five acres of the Preston and Olin Institute for a campus and purchases "Solitude" (a house, other buildings, and 280 acres) for a farm

VAMC opens on October 1, with William Addison Caldwell the first student to enroll; enrollment reaches 132 during the 1872-73 school year

Virginia Agricultural & Mechanical College Catalogue of the Officers and Students, 1872


Twelve students are awarded three-year diplomas

Alumni Association is established

Virginia Agricultural & Mechanical College Catalogue of the Officers and Students, 1875


New buildings include the original president's house (now part of Henderson Hall) and the First and Second Academic Buildings (razed in 1957)


Political turbulence engulfs VAMC, turning over boards of visitors, presidents, and faculty

John L. Buchanan serves as president for two short periods

Professor John Hart is acting president for 1880-81 session

Enrollment drops to no more than 50


Thomas N. Conrad is VAMC's third president (1882-86)


L. L. Lomax is VAMC's fourth president (1886-91)

The legislature establishes the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station at VAMC


Congress passes the Hatch Act to finance agricultural research


No. 1 Barracks (Lane Hall) opens; it houses 150 cadets


Congress passes the Second Morrill Act, which supplies additional federal funding for Virginia's two land-grant schools


John M. McBryde is VAMC's fifth president (1891-1907)

Athletic Association is established


VAMC confers its first master's degree, to Charles M. McBryde

Beginnings of intercollegiate football


Enrollment first tops 300

First issue of the VAMC yearbook, The Bugle


A change of name to Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute (immediately shortened informally to Virginia Polytechnic Institute)

VPI motto adopted: "Ut Prosim" ("That I May Serve")

New school colors-Chicago maroon and burnt orange


Completion of the YMCA Building (today's Performing Arts Building), the first major edifice constructed of what would later be called "Hokie Stone." "Laying the Corner Stone of YMCA Building," c1898-99.


The President's House is completed


The Virginia Tech established as a student newspaper (later, in 1970, renamed the Collegiate Times)

Mary G. Lacy appointed VPI's first professional librarian


Paul B. Barringer VPI's sixth president (1907-13)

Entrance to VPI in 1907 (The Preston and Olin Building)


Joseph D. Eggleston VPI's seventh president (1913-19)


Congress passes the Smith-Lever Act, which funds home demonstration and other agricultural extension work by the nation's land-grant schools


Julian A. Burruss VPI's eighth president (1919-45), the first VPI alumnus to serve as president and the first (in 1921) to have a Ph.D.


The legislature designates Virginia State College, instead of Hampton Institute, the black land-grant school


Burruss convinces the board of visitors to permit white women to enroll at VPI, and five full-time women students do so


Golden Jubilee celebration of VPI's first fifty years

Bachelor's degrees first top 100


Mary Brumfield first woman to graduate from VPI; becomes a graduate student and earns a master's degree in 1925


Participation in the Corps of Cadets becomes optional for juniors and seniors


Four members (or recent members) of the VPI faculty organize what becomes, by 1928, the Future Farmers of America

First issue of The Tinhorn, the yearbook of the women students.


The War Memorial Gymnasium is completed


The completion of massive new construction (of what would later be named Burruss Hall, Squires, Eggleston, Owens, Smyth, Hutcheson, Hillcrest, Holden, and other buildings), financed in large part by New Deal programs, transforms the VPI campus


Nathan Sugarman, Tech's first Ph.D., in chemistry


VPI is linked with Radford College (until 1964); the consolidated school gets its first women members of the BOV


John R. Hutcheson VPI's ninth president (1945-47)


Walter S. Newman VPI's tenth president (1947-62)


Enrollment first tops 5,000, propelled by the GI Bill


Total degrees granted in one year first top 1,000

Three new barracks are completed and dedicated to VPI's three World War II Congressional Medal of Honor recipients: Robert Femoyer, James Monteith, and Herbert Thomas


Irving L. Peddrew III enrolls as Tech's first African American student (and the first black undergraduate at a white land-grant school in the former Confederate South)

Betty Delores Stough, Tech's first female Ph.D., in parasitology


Charlie L. Yates , in mechanical engineering, with honors, VPI's first black graduate (before any state university, or any other white land-grant school, in the eleven states of the former Confederacy)


War Memorial Chapel is completed to honor the fallen VPI soldiers of World War II-and later of all wars


T. Marshall Hahn, Jr. VPI's eleventh president (1962-74)


The Corps of Cadets becomes optional for all male freshmen and sophomores

VPI separates from Radford College and begins to become fully coeducational

VPI reorganized into colleges: Engineering, Agriculture, Business, Home Economics, Architecture, and Arts and Sciences

William Walker Lewis Jr. '64, Tech's first Rhodes Scholar


Lane Stadium and Cassell Coliseum are completed


Six black women enroll at VPI

Cadets and civilians form a combined Student Government Association

An Extension Division combines all extension activities, agricultural and engineering


Doctoral degrees first top 100

Jerry Gaines, a freshman, is granted an athletic scholarship and joins the track team, Tech's first black athlete


Enrollment first tops 10,000

Linda Adams '68 is Tech's first black female graduate


Faculty Association established

Overton Johnson is Tech's first black faculty member


New name: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Bachelor's degrees first top 2,000


Virginia Tech celebrates its first 100 years

Tech alumnus and professor Duncan Lyle Kinnear publishes a centennial history, The First Hundred Years

Founders Day is first celebrated, becomes an annual event each spring

BOV establishes the Academy of Teaching Excellence and inaugurates Alumni Distinguished Professorships

BOV approves recognized sorority-fraternity system


Corps of Cadets admits first female cadets


William E. Lavery Virginia Tech's twelfth president (1975-87)


Bachelor's degrees first top 3,000

Office of the Provost is established

Athletic scholarships are first offered to women


Master's degrees first top 1,000


Enrollment first tops 20,000


Classes begin at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine


Blacksburg bus system begins operation, reflecting the much larger numbers of students living off-campus

First student member (non-voting) of the board of visitors

First on-campus fraternity-sorority houses completed


Cranwell International Center opens


Paul E. Torgersen is interim president from January 1, 1988 to August 31, 1988

James D. McComas is Virginia Tech's thirteenth president (1988-94)


Doctoral degrees first top 400


Bachelor's degrees first top 4,000


Paul E. Torgersen is Virginia Tech's fourteenth president, January 1, 1994 to December 31,1999

Peggy Meszaros becomes first female Senior Vice President and Provost (1994-2000)


Mark Embree, Virginia Tech's second Rhodes Scholar


Virginia Tech, land-grant university and research institution, celebrates its 125th anniversary


Charles W. Steger is Virginia Tech's fifteenth president, January 1, 2000 to May 31, 2014


Engineering faculty and students make supercomputer System X from an array of 1,100 Power Mac G5 computers that was declared the third-fastest supercomputer in the world and the fastest at any university


The Virginia Tech Principles of Community were affirmed by the board of visitors March 14, 2005, and signed by eight university organizations


Creation of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute was announced on January 3, 2007

Thirty-two students and faculty members were murdered on campus on April 16, 2007


The Moss Art Center headquarters for the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, opened on October 28, 2013.


Timothy D. Sands becomes Virginia Tech's sixteenth president on June 1, 2014

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Send questions or comments to:

Tamara Kennelly, University Archivist
University Libraries
Virginia Tech
P.O. Box 90001
Blacksburg, VA, 24062-9001

Last Modified on: Friday, 09-May-2014 10:59:21 EDT