Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
(The picture is Burruss Hall, signature building on the Virginia Tech campus.)
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, better known as Virginia Tech, is a public land grant polytechnic university in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA. Although it is a comprehensive university with many departments, the agriculture, engineering, architecture, forestry, and veterinary medicine programs are considered to be among its strongest. It is also one of the few public universities in the United States, along with Texas A&M University, which continues to maintain a corps of cadets (a full-time military training component within a larger civilian university).

In addition to its research and academic programs, Virginia Tech is known for its campus and location in the New River Valley of southwestern Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a part of the Appalachian Mountains. The university's public profile has also been raised significantly in recent years by the success of its football program.

In 1872, the Virginia General Assembly purchased the facilities of a small Methodist school called the Olin and Preston Institute in rural Montgomery County with federal funds provided by the Morrill Act. The Commonwealth incorporated a new institution on that site, a state-supported land grant military institute called the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College.

Under the 1891-1907 presidency of John M. McBryde, the school reorganized its academic programs into a traditional four-year college setup (including the renaming of the mechanics department to engineering); this led to an 1896 name change to Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute. The "Agricultural and Mechanical College" section of the name was popularly omitted almost immediately, though the name was not officially changed to Virginia Polytechnic Institute until 1944 as part of a short-lived merger with what is now Radford University. VPI achieved full accreditation in 1923, and the requirement of participation in the Corps of Cadets was dropped from four years to two that same year (for men only; women, when they began enrolling in the 1920s, were never required to join).

VPI President T. Marshall Hahn, whose tenure ran from 1962 to 1974, was responsible for many of the changes that shaped the modern institution of Virginia Tech. The merger with Radford was dissolved in 1964, and in 1966, the school dropped the two-year military Corps training requirement for its male students. In 1973, women were allowed to join the Corps; Virginia Tech was the first school in the nation to open its military wing to women. One of Hahn's more controversial missions was only partially achieved. He had visions of renaming the school from VPI to Virginia State University, reflecting the status it had achieved as a full-fledged public education & research university. As part of this move, Virginia Tech would have taken over control of the state's other land-grant institution, a historically black college in Ettrick, Virginia, south of Richmond, then called Virginia State College. This plan failed to take root, and that school eventually became Virginia State University. As a compromise, VPI added "and State University" to its name in 1970, yielding the current formal name of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. In the early 1990s, the school quietly authorized the official use of Virginia Tech as equivalent to the full VPI&SU name. Many school documents today use the shorter name, though diplomas and transcripts still spell out the formal name. Similarly, the abbreviation VT is far more common today than VPI or VPI&SU, and appears everywhere, from athletic uniforms, to the university's Internet domain name

Virginia Tech was the site,
April 16, 2007, of a school shooting that claimed 33 lives. Preliminary investigation pointed to Cho Seung-hui, a 23-year-old South Korean undergraduate student at the university, who was suspected to have acted alone.

For the fall 2006 freshman class, Virginia Tech received 19,046 applications and accepted 67% of applicants (about 12,700). 39% of those accepted (approximately 5000 students) chose to enroll. Approximately 21 percent of the freshman class was filled by early decision candidates. Average grades increased, but SAT scores declined slightly. The typical fall 2006 freshman had a high school grade point average of 3.74, with a middle range of 3.38 to 3.95. The average cumulative SAT score was 1201, down two points from the previous year's average of 1203.

Virginia Tech offers 60 Bachelor's degree programs and 140 Master's and Doctoral degree programs through the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the College of Architecture & Urban Studies, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, the Pamplin College of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Natural Resources, the College of Science, and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers the only two-year associate's degree program on campus, in agricultural technology. The ten most popular majors for the incoming class of 2005 were University Studies (Undeclared), General Engineering, Business (Undeclared), Biology, Communication, Psychology, Marketing, Political Science, Animal and Poultry Sciences, and Architecture.

Virginia Tech ranked 34th among national public universities and 77th among all national universities. Its College of Engineering undergraduate program was ranked 9th among engineering schools at public universities and 17th in the nation among all accredited engineering schools that offer doctorates. Seven different undergraduate programs in the College of Engineering are ranked in the top 25 among peer programs nationally - the industrial engineering program is ranked 7th; civil engineering, 11th; environmental engineering, 11th; mechanical engineering, 15th; aerospace engineering, 16th; electrical engineering, 20th; and chemical engineering, 23rd. Its Pamplin College of Business undergraduate program is ranked 22nd among the nation's public institutions and 52nd among all undergraduate business programs.

The architecture and landscape architecture programs in Virginia Tech's College of Architecture and Urban Studies are ranked among the very best in America. In its 2006 report, DesignIntelligence, the only national college ranking survey focused exclusively on design, ranked the undergraduate architecture program 7th nationally and 4th in the East. DesignIntelligence also ranked the university’s undergraduate landscape architecture program 8th in the nation and 2nd in the East.

The university's academic community has coined a word associated with the distribution of old test and study materials, referred to as "koofers".
On January 3, 2007 Virginia Tech along with Carilion Health System announced the creation of a new medical school that will be a joint venture between the two organizations. The first class is scheduled to be admitted in either 2009 or 2010. The new medical school will have approximately 40 students per class, making it a very small medical school. It will be located in Roanoke next to the Carilion Health System hospital.

The Virginia Tech campus is located in Blacksburg, Virginia. The central campus is roughly bordered by Prices Fork Road to the northwest, Plantation Drive to the west, Main Street to the east, and 460-bypass to the south, though it has several thousand acres beyond the central campus. The university has established branch campus centers in Hampton Roads (Virginia Beach), the National Capital Region (Falls Church - Alexandria, Virginia), Richmond, Roanoke, and the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon.

On the Blacksburg campus, the majority of the buildings incorporate Hokie Stone as building material. Hokie Stone is a medley of different colored limestone, often including dolomite. Each block of Hokie Stone is some combination of gray, brown, black, pink, orange, and maroon. The limestone is mined from various quarries in Southwestern Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama, one of which has been operated by the university since the 1950s. An example of architecture incorporating Hokie Stone is Torgersen Bridge, a relatively new building on Virginia Tech's campus.

Virginia Tech also has one of the top dining programs in the country; it is currently ranked #2 by the Princeton Review. It has seven dining centers which included Squires food court (Au Bon Pain & Sbarro), Owens Food Court, Hokie Grill (Chick-fil-A, Pizza Hut, Cinnabon), D2 & DXpress, Shultz & Shultz Express, Deets Place, and the high end West End Market. Virginia Tech also has a catering center, Personal Touch Catering.

The University is protected by its own Police force, the Virginia Tech Police.