An Overview of Virginia Tech


Virginia Tech (VT), formally Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VPI), is a public land-grant research university with its main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. It also has educational facilities in six regions statewide, a research centre in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and a study-abroad site in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland. Through its Corps of Cadets Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programme, Virginia Tech is a senior military college.

Virginia Tech offers 280 undergraduate and graduate degree programmes to some 34,400 students; as of 2015, it was the state’s second-largest public university by enrolment. It is ranked among the top 50 universities in the United States for total research expenditures, top 25 in computer and information sciences, and top 10 in engineering, the latter two of which are the highest rankings in the state, and manages a $522 million research portfolio. It is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”.

VT has produced two Rhodes Scholars, four Marshall Scholars, 38 Goldwater Scholars, and 131 Fulbright Scholars. Among its alumni are eight Medal of Honour recipients, 97 flag officers, governors of two US states, two astronauts, and one billionaire. Three Nobel laureates and one MacArthur Fellow have received a degree or served as faculty members at the university. As of 2015, VT had more than 240,000 living alumni worldwide.

The university’s athletic teams are known as the Virginia Tech Hokies and compete in Division I of the NCAA as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Brief History

In 1872, with federal funds provided by the Morrill Act of 1862, the Reconstruction-era Virginia General Assembly purchased the facilities of Preston and Olin Institute, a small Methodist school for boys in Southwest Virginia’s rural Montgomery County (refer to American Civil War). That same year, 250 acres (100 ha) of the adjoining Solitude Farm including the house and several farm buildings on the estate were acquired for $21,250 from Robert Taylor Preston, a son of Governor of Virginia, James Patton Preston. The commonwealth incorporated a new institution on the site, a state-supported land-grant military institute named Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College.

Virginia Tech’s first student, Addison “Add” Caldwell registered on 01 October 1872, after hiking over 25 miles from his home in Craig County, Virginia. A statue, located in the Upper Quad of campus commemorates Add’s journey to enrol. First-year cadets and their training cadre re-enact Addison Caldwell’s journey every year in the Caldwell March. They complete the first half of the 26-mile march in the fall and the second half in the spring.

The first five presidents of Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College served in the Confederate States Army or the Confederate government during the Civil War as did many of its early professors including the first Commandant, James H. Lane, a VMI graduate and former Confederate General who taught civil engineering and commerce at the college and is the namesake of Lane Hall, one of the oldest buildings on campus, built in 1888. Its third president, Thomas Nelson Conrad, was a notorious Confederate spy who ran a covert intelligence gathering operation from a home in the heart of Washington, D.C.. Its sixth president, Paul Brandon Barringer, was a son of Confederate General Rufus Barringer and a nephew of Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson and Daniel Harvey Hill.

In a nod to this southern heritage the Confederate Battle Flag was traditionally waved by cheerleaders at Virginia Tech football games and the Highty-Tighties played Dixie as a fight song when the Hokies scored a touchdown. A large Confederate flag also hung inside Cassell Coliseum where Virginia Tech basketball games are played. Since 1963, “Skipper”, a replica of a Civil War cannon has been fired at football games by members of the Corps of Cadets when the team scores. The Confederate Flag was also prominently featured on all Virginia Tech class rings. The display of the Confederate flag at athletic events ended in the late 1960s after Marguerite Harper, a black woman attending Virginia Tech on a Rockefeller Scholarship for culturally disadvantaged students, was elected to the student senate during her sophomore year and made a successful resolution to end the practice. Following the resolution there was a large demonstration in opposition to the removal of the Confederate flag. The campus was covered in Confederate flags and Dixie was blasting from dormitory windows. Harper and her white roommate received hate mail and threatening phone calls, but the resolution stood, and the display of the rebel flag ended in 1969. The Confederate flag on Virginia Tech class rings became optional in 1972 and could be left off of the ring at the student’s request. The Confederate flag has since been removed from class ring designs entirely.

Under the leadership of seventh president Joseph Dupuy Eggleston, who held the position from 1913 to 1919, the university established a ROTC to support national efforts during World War I.

In 1917, physics professor Charles E. Vawter, Jr. (son of Charles E. Vawter, who had served on the VPI board of visitors from 1886 to 1900), shot Stockton Heth, Jr., a scion of one of Montgomery County’s wealthiest families, in his campus home on faculty row. Heth, who lived at Whitethorne, an antebellum mansion on a 1,500-acre estate near Blacksburg, later died of his wounds. Due to the Heth family’s wealth and political connections, Vawter’s position as head of the VPI physics department, and the extramarital affair that led to the shooting, the resulting murder trial was one of the most sensational in Virginia history (Vawter was acquitted, and left the school). Eggleston attempted to suppress news of the affair in the media with considerable success, most likely due to world events that stole the headlines in the spring of 1917, rather than his efforts to protect VPI’s reputation.

College Reorganisations

During Thomas Nelson Conrad’s tenure as president, the college switched from semesters to the quarter system, which remained in place until the late 1980s. Under the 1891-1907 presidency of John McLaren McBryde, the school organised its academic programmes into a traditional four-year college and a graduate department was founded. The evolution of the school’s programmes led to a name change in 1896 to Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute. The “Agricultural and Mechanical College” portion of the name was popularly omitted almost immediately; in 1944, the name was officially changed to Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI).

VPI admitted its first female students in 1921 as civilian day students; they did not live on campus. In 1923, VPI changed a policy of compulsory participation in the Corps of Cadets from four years to two years. In 1931, VPI began teaching classes at the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary (now Old Dominion University). This programme eventually developed into a two-year engineering programme that allowed students to transfer to VPI for their final two years of degree work.

The first women’s dormitory at VPI, Hillcrest Hall, was built in 1940. In 1943, VPI merged with Radford State Teachers College in nearby Radford, which became VPI’s women’s division; the merger was dissolved in 1964. Today, Radford University is a co-educational research university that enrols nearly 10,000 students and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate programmes.

Post-World War II

In 1953 under the leadership of President Walter Stephenson Newman, VPI became the first historically white, four-year public institution among the 11 states in the former Confederacy to admit a black undergraduate. Three more black students were admitted in 1954. At the time Virginia still enforced Jim Crow laws and largely practiced racial segregation in public and private education, churches, neighbourhoods, restaurants, and movie theatres and these first black students at VPI were not allowed to live in residence halls or eat in the dining halls on campus. Instead, they boarded with African American families in Blacksburg. In 1958 Charlie L. Yates made history as the first African American to graduate from VPI. Yates earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, with honours, and was hailed as the first African American “to be graduated from any major Southern engineering institute,” according to news reports at the time.

VPI President T. Marshall Hahn, whose tenure ran from 1962 to 1974, was responsible for many of the programs and policies that transformed VPI from a small, historically white, predominately male, military institute with a primary focus on undergraduate teaching into a major co-educational research university. The student body that had been approximately 5,682 in 1962 increased by roughly 1,000 students each year, new dormitories and academic buildings were constructed, faculty members were added – in 1966, for instance, more than 100 new professors joined the faculty – and research budgets were increased. During Hahn’s tenure, not only did the university graduate its first Rhodes Scholar, W.W. Lewis, Class of 1963, the requirement for male students to participate in the Corps of Cadets for two years was dropped in 1964. Beginning in the fall 1973, women could participate in the Corps, making Virginia Tech among the nation’s first senior military colleges to integrate women.

In 1970, the state legislature allowed VPI university status and gave it the present legal name, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. In the early 1990s, university administration authorised the official use of Virginia Tech as equivalent to the full legal name; it has been used as the first-reference name for the school’s athletic teams since the 1970s. However, diplomas and transcripts still spell out the formal name. Similarly, the abbreviation “VT” is far more common today than either VPI or VPI&SU.

Vietnam War Era

During the Vietnam War, students on college campuses across the nation protested the draft and US involvement in the conflict. Despite its long history as a military school, Virginia Tech was no exception. Most protests at Virginia Tech were small sit-ins and teach-ins, but In mid-April 1970 a group of anti-war protesters including students and faculty members disrupted a Corps of Cadets drill on campus. The Virginia Tech administration under Dr. Hahn took swift action. The students involved were suspended and the faculty members involved were fired from the university and the administration went to court and obtained an injunction to prevent them from repeating the act. This succeeded in calming tensions on campus, but only for a few weeks.

Tensions on campus reached the boiling point several days following the Kent State Shootings when on May 12, 1970, a large mob including students and a number of non-student anti-war protesters enraged by the Kent State incident and angered by the administration’s disciplinary actions in response to a number of recent infractions by protesters including; vandalism of university property, a series of potentially dangerous fires set on campus, breaking and entering into a university building, and a sit-in in Cowgill Hill, seized Williams Hall and barricaded themselves inside. The administration responded quickly calling in law enforcement and early the following morning Virginia State Troopers forced their way into Williams Hall and began rounding up the protesters. Once inside the building the police discovered bomb making materials and determined that the students had apparently intended to build a firebomb. The first few protesters were dragged out of the building; the rest left peacefully and were arrested and taken to the Montgomery County jail. The students involved in the seizure, were suspended from Virginia Tech and given twenty-four hours to remove their belongings from campus after being released from jail.

Several more anti-war protests occurred at Virginia Tech during the early 1970s, but none turned violent.

Late 20th Century

The university continued to expand through the last quarter of the 20th century. In 1975 William E. Lavery, who had joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1966, took over as president when Dr. Hahn left the university to join Georgia-Pacific.

Desperate for additional farmland for the support of teaching, research, and extension programmes in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Tech acquired Kentland Farm on 31 December 1986. Virginia Tech secretly traded about 250 acres of research orchards adjacent to a commercial area that would soon become Christiansburg’s main shopping district to a group of developers for the historic but long fallow 1,785-acre Kentland property. The developers on the other end of the swap, one of whom was a former Tech athletics official, quickly sold 40 acres of the former university farmland for $2.7 million. News of the land swap, and especially the fact that it was done behind closed doors, sparked outrage.

Also in 1986, Virginia Tech became embroiled in an athletic scandal sparked by allegations of illegal recruiting, the bitter departure of two athletic directors in less than a year and millions of dollars of debt run up by the university’s sports program due to mismanagement of financial resources, million dollar coaching contracts, and lavish expense accounts for athletics officials that led to a rebuke from Governor of Virginia, Gerald Baliles in 1987. Baliles, the featured speaker at the Virginia Tech’s 115th annual commencement exercises, scolded the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors for the scandal and warned other state-supported institutions in Virginia not to put athletics ahead of academics.

Lavery developed a reorganisation plan for the troubled Athletic Department, and Frank Beamer was hired to replace Bill Dooley as head football coach, but with negative publicity continuing to swirl within and around the university, he announced his resignation on 16 October 1987, effective 31 December 1987, to prevent polarisation of the campus. He was succeeded as president by James Douglas McComas who served until 1994.

Due to the unpopularity of US involvement in the Vietnam War enrolment in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets spiralled downward through the 1970s and 80s. In 1991 through the efforts of Henry Dekker (Class of 1944) The Corps of Cadets Alumni Inc. was created to save the corps, whose numbers had declined to only a few hundred students. In 1992 the alumni organisation-initiated Corps Review, a newsletter that was expanded to a magazine in 2004 and targeted corps alumni. In the mid-1990s, the corps alumni organisation set a goal of “1000 in 2000” and initiated a major campaign to push the number of cadets to 1,000 by the turn of the century. The goal was not reached, but membership in the corps did increase substantially by the end of the decade.

21st Century

The early decades of this century have seen expansion across the university’s institutions in both physical and population sizes. In 2001 Virginia Tech acquired the 326-acre Heth Farm adjacent to campus, increasing the College Farm to over 3,000 acres. The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute was created with a strategic partnership with the Carilion Clinic and the governor of Virginia. These years also brought about the rapid development of the university’s professional schools of graduate education and business programmes. Virginia Tech brought in over $500 million in research expenditures in 2014.

The establishment of scholarships for cadets and a resurgence of national patriotism after the events of September 11, 2001 helped the corps recruit new cadets, increasing the ranks to 1,127 by 2018 – the largest corps the university has seen since the mid-1960s. The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets is poised to increase enrolment to 1,400 in coming years.

2007 Mass Shooting

On April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho fatally shot 32 faculty members and students and wounded 17 others in two locations on campus before killing himself. The massacre is the deadliest mass shooting on an American college campus, surpassing the University of Texas tower shooting in 1966. Although it was at the time the deadliest mass shooting committed by a lone gunman in US history, it has since been surpassed by two shootings at an Orlando nightclub and an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas. It is the second-deadliest school massacre in US history, surpassed only by the Bath School bombing in 1927 that killed 44.

The Virginia Tech massacre led to an intense nationwide debate over gun rights, gun safety and efficacy of gun-free zones. It prompted many states to introduce legislation to prohibit public colleges and universities from banning concealed weapons on campus for permit holders. In 2013, at least 19 states introduced legislation to allow concealed carry on campus in some form, and in the 2014 legislative session, at least 14 states introduced similar legislation. In 2016, Tennessee passed a bill permitting faculty members to carry handguns on campus after notifying local law enforcement. In 2015, Texas became the eighth state to allow concealed weapons on college campuses. In December 2016, Governor John Kasich signed a bill into law that lifted Ohio’s statewide ban on firearms on college campuses, leaving the decision to the institutions. In 2017, Georgia became the tenth state to prohibit colleges and universities from banning concealed weapons on campus. Virginia law allows individual institutions to make the decision whether to allow concealed weapons on campus, but Virginia Tech continues to ban concealed carry permit holders from carrying guns on campus.

Innovation Campus and Further Growth

After Amazon unveiled its second headquarters in Crystal City, Virginia, Virginia Tech announced plans to build a $1 billion graduate research centre adjacent to the facility. The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus will be housed at a million-square-foot campus in Alexandria. It is expected to educate hundreds of graduate students. The Innovation Campus will focus on computer science and software engineering, with specialisations in areas including artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and data analytics.

Due to rapid growth of incoming freshmen classes, the university announced in 2019 that it would offer 1,559 incoming, in-state freshmen financial incentives to skip the 2019–20 school year in Blacksburg. Expecting a larger-than-planned class size, the university budgeted $3.3 million for the endeavour. Virginia Tech also waived the requirement that freshmen live on campus for the 2019–20 school year, leased an off-campus Holiday Inn, and converted its on-campus hotel to house students.

Organisation and Administration

Virginia Tech is a public university and one of Virginia’s two land-grant institutions. Its academic programmes are administered by nine colleges, the Graduate School, and the Honours College.

College/SchoolYear Founded
Graduate School1891
College of Engineering1903
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences1903
College of Architecture, Art, and Design1964
College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences1964
College of Science1964
Pamplin College of Business1965
College of Veterinary Medicine1978
College of Natural Resources and Environment1992
Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute2007
Honours College2016


Virginia Tech offers 116 bachelor’s degree programmes through its nine undergraduate academic colleges, 160 master’s and doctoral degree programmes through the Graduate School, and a professional degree from the Virginia–Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. In addition, the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, is a public/private partnership jointly managed by Virginia Tech and the Carilion Clinic founded on 03 January 2007.


Virginia Tech received a record number of nearly 22,500 applications for the fall 2015 freshman class, an increase of 7.6% from the previous year’s 20,897 applications for an overall admissions rate of 65.8%. The typical student offered admission had a high-school grade point average of 4.00, with the middle 50% ranging from 3.84 and 4.27. The average cumulative SAT score was 1250 (out of 1600), with a middle range ranging from 1160 to 1340. Of the 5,518 students who accepted the offers of admission (for an admissions yield of 38%), 18 percent accepted under the Early Decision Plan. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions is located within the Visitor and Undergraduate Admissions Centre.

Virginia Tech offers a highly selective Honours College, which provides undergraduate students 11 different ways to earn Honours credits towards one of the five Honours degree options. Once admitted, Honours students are required to maintain a 3.6 GPA in order to remain in the programme. Roughly one-fourth of the approximately 1,600 University Honours students live in one of the two University Honours residential halls, the Honours Residential College located in East Ambler-Johnston and the Hillcrest Honours Community.

For the 2013-2014 academic year, the Graduate School at Virginia Tech enrolled 6,723 graduate students (4,465 full-time; 2,258 part-time) in its masters and doctoral programmes.

The Pamplin College of Business received 381 applications for its incoming Evening MBA programme and offered admission to 142. The class’s average GMAT was 610, and mean undergraduate GPA was 3.4.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke, Va., received 4,403 applications for its eighth incoming class, the class of 2021, and offered admission to 42. The class’s MCAT scores range was 503-520 (median 512, mean 512), and mean undergraduate GPA was 3.57.


In US News & World Report’s list of “2023 Best Colleges”, Virginia Tech tied for 62nd overall among national universities, tied for 23rd among public ones, tied at 41st for “Most Innovative”, ranked 156th in “Best Value Schools”, and tied for 291st in “Top Performers on Social Mobility”.

The Pamplin College of Business’s part-time MBA programme was tied for 19th overall by US News & World Report in 2020. The Master of Information Technology programme, jointly sponsored by the Pamplin College of Business and the College of Engineering, is ranked No. 4 in US News & World Report’s Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programmes. This interdisciplinary programme is offered entirely online.

Programs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies (CAUS) include architecture + design, landscape architecture, urban planning, and public administration. In its 2016 “America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools” report, DesignIntelligence ranked the undergraduate architecture program 3rd nationally among both public and private universities. The graduate architecture program ranked 9th in the nation. For 2013, DesignIntelligence ranked the university’s undergraduate and graduate landscape architecture programmes No. 2 in the nation. In addition, DesignIntelligence ranked the university’s undergraduate interior design program 6th and undergraduate industrial design programme 3rd. The Planetizen 2012 Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programmes ranked Virginia Tech’s MURP programme as 19th. Virginia Tech’s MURP program was also rated among the best programmes in Technology, Land Use Planning, Environmental Planning, and Growth Management.

The College of Natural Resources and Environment’s wood science and forest products programme accredited by the Society of Wood Science and Technology.

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance places Virginia Tech 20th in its 2019 ranking of 174 best value public colleges in the United States. In 2018, CEOWORLD magazine ranked the undergraduate architecture programme 3rd nationally. The graduate architecture programme ranked 14th.


The Virginia Tech campus is in Blacksburg, Virginia. Most buildings are built of limestone in a neo-Gothic style. Notable green spaces include the Hahn Horticulture Garden, Virginia Tech Duck Pond, and the old-growth forest, Stadium Woods.

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.

In the centre of the Blacksburg campus lies the Drillfield, a large oval field running northeast to southwest, encircled by a one-way street that is known as Drillfield Drive. The Drillfield’s name, coined in 1926 after the completion of Virginia Tech’s first real stadium, Miles Stadium, stems from its use by the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets to conduct military drills. A waterway, Stroubles Creek, runs beneath the Drillfield on the south side. A three-sided conduit for the creek that retains the natural bed of the creek was installed in 1934, and, in 1971, the first two asphalt walks were added. The urban legend that the Drillfield is sinking at the rate of an inch per year has no basis in fact. In the summer of 2014, three dirt paths were paved as part of the university’s master plan to improve the landscaping and pathways, add seating areas, and enhance path entrances around the Drillfield.

On the northwestern side of the Drillfield stand most of the university’s academic and administrative buildings, including Burruss and McBryde Halls. On the southeastern side of the Drillfield stand most of the residential buildings, including students’ residence halls, dining halls, and War Memorial Gym. Newman Library is 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.

On the main campus in Blacksburg, most of the buildings incorporate Hokie Stone as a building material. In the 1990s, a Virginia Tech Board of Visitors committee expressed an intent that henceforth Hokie Stone should be used in all buildings constructed on the central campus. In 2010, the board of visitors passed a resolution making that sentiment official university policy.

Hokie Stone is generally gray, shaded by hues of brown and pink. It is mined from various quarries in Southwest Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama, one of which has been operated by the university since the 1950s. Most buildings on campus incorporate Hokie Stone into their design, but there are a few notable exceptions. For example, several older buildings on the Upper Quad, including Lane Hall, are constructed of red brick, as are Hillcrest Hall and Donaldson Brown. 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.

Extended Campuses

The university has established five branch campuses:

  • Virginia Tech Hampton Roads Centres, Newport News and Virginia Beach
  • Northern Virginia Centre, Falls Church (National Capital Region)
  • Virginia Tech Richmond Centre, Richmond
  • Virginia Tech Roanoke Centre, Roanoke
  • Virginia Tech Southwest Centre, Abingdon

Northern Virginia Centre (National Capital Region)

Virginia Tech’s presence in the Washington Metropolitan Area links regional graduate education and outreach programs that are consistent with the university’s strategic research areas of excellence: energy materials and environment, social and individual transformation, health, food, and nutrition, and innovative technologies and complex systems.

Supporting the university’s missions is the Virginia Tech National Capital Region. The university has established collaborations and partnerships with local and federal agencies, non-profit research organisations, businesses, and other institutions of higher education. Current locations include Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church, Leesburg, Manassas, and Middleburg.

Biomedical Technology Development and Management is an executive programme in the National Capital Region. The Master of Science in Biomedical Technology Development and Management (BTDM) is a graduate level degree created by Virginia Tech in response to future directions in medical product discovery and development and the emerging needs of industry and regulatory agencies. Curriculum for the degree programme integrates science with technology, management, ethics, and public policy, and draws on the strengths of Virginia Tech in science, industrial and systems engineering, business and management, and medical research programs.

In 2014, the university opened a Language and Culture Institute location in Fairfax. The institute offers intensive English language programmes for college-age students, professionals, and diplomats.

International Campuses

Caribbean Centre for Education and Research (CCER)

Located on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean Centre for Education and Research (CCER) in Punta Cana provides a base for Virginia Tech faculty to conduct research as well as instruct students on biodiversity, environmental and social sustainability, global issues in natural resources, and hotel and tourism management. The centre is the product of a partnership between Virginia Tech and the PUNTACANA Ecological Foundation (PCEF) and the PUNTACANA Resort and Club. PCEF maintains a 2,000-acre (810 ha) natural forest reserve, 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) of protected coral reef, freshwater lagoons and coastal mangroves.

Centre for European Studies and Architecture (CESA)

Renamed the Steger Centre for International Scholarship in 2014, the Centre for European Studies and Architecture (CESA) is the university’s European campus centre and base for operations and support of its programs in the region. The centre’s location in Riva San Vitale, Ticino, the Italian-speaking canton of Switzerland, is also close to major northern Italian cities such as Milan.

Agricultural Research and Extension Centres

Virginia Tech has several agricultural research and extension centres located throughout the Commonwealth dedicated to improving agricultural practices and the quality of life of Virginia citizens. The Virginia Tech Agricultural Research and Extension Centres are: Alson H. Smith, Jr., Eastern Shore, Eastern Virginia, Hampton Roads, Middleburg, Reynolds Homestead, Shenandoah Valley, Southern Piedmont, Southwest Virginia, Tidewater, and Virginia Seafood.

Power Plant

Distinguished by a towering 180-foot-high radial brick smokestack, the university’s coal fired Central Steam Power Plant generates an annual steam output greater than 943 billion BTUs and provides campus buildings with a portion of their heat, hot water, and electricity needs. Nearly 90% of campus buildings are connected to the plant through an extensive network of tunnels – the main access point is on the Drillfield – and more than six miles (9.7 km) of steam lines and piping provide heat to more than 6.8 million square feet of campus buildings. Only personnel with confined-space training are permitted to enter the tunnel system, comprising 2.76 miles (4.44 km) of inaccessible tunnel and 11.07 miles (17.82 km) of piping; 3.78 miles (6.08 km) of direct-bury piping in the ground; and 2.2 miles (3.5 km) of accessible tunnel and 12.27 miles (19.75 km) of piping.

Student Life

There are more than 700 student organisations on campus. Some of these organisations include Bolt at Virginia Tech which builds electric racing motorcycles; PRISM a student-run ad agency; BASIS at Virginia Tech the largest student-run fixed income portfolio group in the nation managing $5 million; the Chocolate Milk Club; and a Young Life Chapter. Over 9,300 Virginia Tech students reside on campus. The VT campus is home to twenty-eight residence halls housing both undergraduate and graduate students, and several more are either in the planning stages or under construction. The university has on-campus housing for graduate and professional students who are single; the housing may not accommodate families and spouses.

Typically, all freshmen are required to live on-campus. However, for the 2019 application year, first year students had the opportunity to live off-campus. This was the result of an unexpectedly large admission rate. In order to live on-campus, students must fill out the Virginia Tech Housing and Dining Contract, which requires students to purchase a major meal plan.

Corps of Cadets

Until 1923, every able-bodied male was required to participate for four years in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. The requirement was changed to two years until 1964, when participation became voluntary. Members of the ROTC programme are required to participate in the Corps of Cadets. Virginia Tech remains one of three public universities in the United States with both an active corps of cadets and regular civilian students on its campus (Texas A&M University and the University of North Georgia are the other two).

More than 1,000 cadets reside on the campus of Virginia Tech. The Corps of Cadets Community is located in the Upper Quad, which features some of the oldest buildings on campus. Cadet dorms are also known as “cadet barracks”. Two new dormitories were constructed on the Upper Quad to house all of the cadets. Pearson Hall replaced Rasche Hall in November 2015, and in August 2017, Brodie Hall was replaced by the New Cadet Dorm (aka “New Brodie”). Former cadet dorms, Thomas Hall and Monteith Hall were demolished in 2017. Their sites are planned to be used as green space for the foreseeable future.

Greek Life

Virginia Tech hosts a number of fraternities and sororities across four governing councils. There are 23 IFC fraternities and 13 National Panhellenic Conference sororities recognized at Virginia Tech. The fraternity and sorority community currently encompasses more than 5,500 students which represents just about 20 percent of the undergraduate population. The Oak Lane Community houses those sororities and fraternities which have houses chartered on campus. A number of fraternities have chartered off-campus housing. There are also numerous other academic and service-related sororities and fraternities at the school, as well as various historically Black and cultural interest organisations.

There are also a number of fraternities at Virginia Tech that are not officially recognised by the university. These organisations have continued to operate off campus in Blacksburg despite being suspended for violations of university policies. These fraternities include: Centre Club (formerly Sigma Chi), Delta Kappa Epsilon, Kappa Sigma, Lambda Chi Alpha, Gold Club (formerly Pi Kappa Phi), Omicron Alpha Kappa (formerly Kappa Delta Rho), Theta Delta Chi, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon. While several of these chapters are still chartered by their national organisation they are not currently recognised by Virginia Tech.


Virginia Tech teams are known as the Hokies. The HokieBird is a turkey-like creature whose form has evolved from the original school mascot of the Fighting Gobbler. While the modern HokieBird 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.

They compete as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I level (Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) sub-level for football), primarily competing in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) for all sports since the 2004–05 season. The Hokies previously competed in the Big East Conference from 2000-2001 to 2003-2004 (football program from 1991-1992 to 1999-2000); the Atlantic 10 Conference (A-10) from 1995-1996 to 1999-2000; and the Metro Conference from 1978-1979 to 1994-1995.

Men’s sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field and wrestling. Women’s sports include basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field and volleyball.

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 long-standing rivalry lasted nine decades, from 1894 to 1984, and developed into the original Military Classic of the South an annual football game between VMI and VPI usually held on Thanksgiving Day at Victory Stadium 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 after Virginia Tech’s rapid expansion in the 1960s and 70s 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 both UVA’s and Tech’s growth during the 1960s and 1970s and this is now the Hokies’ primary programme-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. The song is played at sporting events by both the Virginia Tech student band, The Marching Virginians, and the regimental 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.

The most prominent athletic facilities are Lane Stadium, Cassell Coliseum, English Field, Thompson Field, Tech Softball Park, Rector Field House, the Beamer-Lawson Indoor Practice Facility, and the Christiansburg Aquatic Centre.


Virginia Tech has over 240,000 alumni internationally and from all 50 states. The Virginia Tech Alumni Association has over 100 chapters and has been consistently regarded as one of the best in the nation.

One of six senior military colleges in the United States, Virginia Tech has produced numerous military leaders, among them 97 generals and admirals, including Carlton D. Everhart II, Commander, Air Mobility Command; Thomas C. Richards, Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe; Lance L. Smith, Commander, United States Joint Forces Command; Jody A. Breckenridge, Commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area; William G. Boykin, Deputy Undersecretary of Defence for Intelligence, Commander, John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Centre; and Wallace H. Robinson, Director, Defence Supply Agency.

Eight alumni have been awarded the Medal of Honour, the highest award bestowed by the United States armed forces: Antoine August Michel Gaujot, Julien Edmund Victor Gaujot, Earle Davis Gregory, Herbert Joseph Thomas, Jimmie W. Monteith, Robert Edward Femoyer, Richard Thomas Shea, Jr., Gary Lee Miller; their names are inscribed on a marble cenotaph at the centre of War Memorial Court on the Blacksburg campus.

Many VT alumni have also served in civilian leadership roles: Chet Culver, 41st governor of Iowa; William Dodd, ambassador to Germany; Linda Swartz Taglialatela, ambassador to Barbados; Rob Wittman, member of the House of Representatives; Tony McNulty, member of Parliament for Harrow East; Deborah Hersman, 12th chairperson of the National Transportation Safety Board; Regina Dugan, 19th director, Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency; John H. Thompson, Director of the United States Census Bureau; Lawrence Koontz, Senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, and William K. Barlow and Matt Lohr, members of the Virginia House of Delegates.

Outside of public service, Virginia Tech alumni have made notable contributions in the fields of business, literature, music and journalism. These include children’s book author and Newbery Medal recipient Kwame Alexander; jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd; business executive Donaldson Brown; Boeing president and CEO Dave Calhoun; Norfolk Southern president and CEO Alan Shaw and television news anchor Hoda Kotb.

Notable Virginia Tech athletes include Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Frank Beamer, Allan Bristow, Kam Chancellor, Bimbo Coles, Dell Curry, Ace Custis, Renee Dennis, Bill Dooley, Jim Druckenmiller, Terrell Edmunds, Tremaine Edmunds, Bud Foster, Kendall Fuller, Kyle Fuller, Chuck Hartman, Sally Miles, Charles Moir, Johnny Oates, Bruce Smith, Tyrod Taylor, DeAngelo Hall, Isaiah Ford, Angela Tincher, and Michael Vick.

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