Virginia Tech

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Virginia Tech
VT Burruss Hall.jpg
City: Blacksburg, Virginia
Type: Public
Sports: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, wrestling[1]
Colors: Maroon and burnt orange
Mascot: Hokies

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University ("Virginia Tech", formerly "Virginia Polytechnic Institute" or "VPI") is a public land-grant university founded in 1872, serving, according to its mission statement, "the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world community." It is taxpayer-supported.

This gun free zone government school was the location of the worst school shooting in American history, when one of its seniors, Seung-Hui Cho, massacred thirty-two students and faculty on April 16, 2007, before killing himself. Cho had written and submitted as coursework disturbing papers that, in hindsight, appeared to reflect an unstable person obsessed with violence.

Virginia Tech students gather for a prayer vigil after the 4/16/2007 massacre that took thirty-two lives.
In 2011 another shooting there left two dead.

It has 26,370 students on-campus, about 17% of whom are graduate students. It has strong sports and engineering programs, resulting in much larger percentage of male students than most colleges: 58.1% male and 41.9% female. Many of its students are from foreign countries.

Virginia Tech was founded in 1872 as the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College, with 132 students, a president and three professors: one each in English; natural philosophy and chemistry; and technical agriculture and mechanics.[2]

Great expansion took place between 1890 and 1896, the student body growing to about four hundred and its name was changed to "Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute."[3] In 1944, the name became "Virginia Polytechnic Institute," and in 1970 "Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University", with "Virginia Tech" being used for informal purposes such as athletics.

The name change rendered the previous school cheer obsolete, and in 1896 a contest was held to create a new one. The winning entry was written by one O. M. Stull, and was:

Hoki, Hoki, Hoki, Hy.
Techs, Techs, V.P.I.
Sola-Rex, Sola-Rah.
Polytechs - Vir-gin-ia.
Rae, Ri, V.P.I.
Virginia Tech
VT shield.jpgVT seal.gif
Location Blacksburg, Virginia
800px-Virginia Tech Main Eggleston Hall.jpg
800px-Virginia Tech War Memorial Chapel sunset.jpg

Stull said later that the word "Hoki" was a pure invention, meant to be an attention-grabber. An "e" was later added to the word, and Hokie became the nickname for Virginia Tech students. 1896 was also the year in which the school colors were changed from black and gray to burnt orange and Chicago maroon, and in which the college seal and school motto—Ut Prosim, "That I May Serve"—were adopted.[4]

Military training has always been a feature of Virginia Tech, which is one of six designated senior military colleges in the United States.[5] All students were cadets when it opened in 1872.[6]

In 1953, with the admission of Irving Linwood Peddrew as an electrical engineering student, Virginia Tech became not only the first all-white public school in Virginia to desegregate, but also the first historically white land grant school anywhere in the south to do so.[7] The Board of Visitors ruled that no state-supported school for Negroes offered comparable training, and the Virginia attorney-general had advised that Supreme Court rulings took precedence over Virginia's racial segregation laws.[8]

In 2003, Virginia Tech's Terascale Computing Facility made national news for building the third-fastest supercomputer in the world. What made the news was not that that it was fast, but the way in which it was built. It was assembled from 1,100 ordinary off-the-shelf desktop computers (Apple Power Mac G5), networked via Infiniband technology. The result was an extraordinarily cost-effective system: Virginia Tech's 10-teraflop "Big Mac" cost $5.2 million; by comparison, the then-record-holding 35-teraflop Earth Simulator cost an estimated $350 million.[9]


Students celebrate on the drillfield following Tech's 2006 victory over then #10 Clemson University.
Virginia Tech's sports teams compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which they joined in 2004, along with Miami and, later, Boston College. Tech's football team competed for a national title against Florida State following the 1999 season and in 2004, captured the ACC crown in its first year in the conference. The men's basketball team, after a ten-year drought, returned to the NCAA tournament following the 2006-07 season. In 2007, Tech's softball team shut out Georgia Tech 2-0 to capture the ACC championship, and in golf, the Hokies split the conference title with the Yellow Jackets.


  2. Heatwole, Cornelius Jacob (1916), A History of Education in Virginia, pp. 204-7
  3. Virginia Tech History Notes
  4. What is a Hokie?, Virginia Tech website: origin of "Hokie," school colors, seal, motto
  5. The others are Norwich University in Vermont, North Georgia College and State University, Texas A&M University, The Citadel in Charleston, SC, and Virginia Military Institute.
  6. Tech Corps of Cadets: History
  8. "Negro to Study at V. P. I.; 1st of Race to Enger State-Aided White School as Freshman." The New York Times, September 12, 1953, p. 19
  9. Mac Supercomputer Joins Elite, Wired, November 15, 2003

External links