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Chapter 3 -- Barringer Years

The Administration Of President Barringer

In July, 1907, changes in the faculty took place as follows: Resignations: Professor Fain and Instructors Moncure, Vanatter, Robeson and Jarnigan; promotions: from assistant professor to professor, Messrs. Saunders, Conner, Rasche, McBryde, J. S. A. Johnson, Newman, Barlow, and Ferguson; from assistant professor to adjunct professor, Messrs. Holden and Abbott; from instructor to associate professor, Mr. Worthington; from instructor to assistant professor, Messrs. Lee ('96), Brodie ('01), T. G. Wood ('01), and Miles ('01). Appointments: H. S. Peyton, farm manager; T. B. Hutcheson ('06), instructor in agronomy; E. B. Fred ('07), instructor in mycology; J. M. Johnson, instructor in foundry. In August, Miss Ethel Lacy was made assistant librarian, Dr. W. J. Quick was elected professor of agriculture and dean of the agricultural department; and A. B. Spencer ('05) was made associate professor of animal husbandry.

Session of 1907-08. Faculty changes: resignations: Professor Campbell as dean of the academic department, to confine his attentions to the department of modern languages; T. G. Wood, as assistant professor of biology and assistant commandant; Dr. Meade Ferguson, to become state bacteriologist at Richmond; and E. B. Fred, instructor in mycology to accept the position of assistant bacteriologist at the experiment station. Dr. Barlow was made dean of the graduate department, and Dr. S. W. Fletcher was elected director of the experiment station. Professor Saunders accepted the position of state food and dairy commissioner, retaining, however, his position as director of the V. P. I. creamery. Dr. Quick resigned as dean of the agricultural department and Professor H. L. Price was appointed in his place. Dr. Fletcher assumed his duties in January. W. K. Brainerd was appointed professor of dairying, and Lyman Carrier, of agronomy. J. B. Fogleman was appointed stenographer to Dr. Fletcher, and Robert C. Ellett assistant to the treasurer and secretary of the faculty, succeeding Courtney Williams, resigned. Dr. Howard C. Reed was elected professor of plant pathology and pathologist at the experiment station, and Professor O. C. Burkhart was elected to the new chair of mining engineering. Dr. A. W. Drinkard was made assistant horticulturist at the experiment station.

During the year Professor Randolph designed a "lift bridge" for the "Huckleberry" crossing at Merrimac, over the Virginian Railroad. The bridge was designed in twenty-four hours and erected in seven days.

A branch library was established in the agricultural hall, and a concrete walk was built from Barrack No.1 to the dining hall, passing in front of Academic Building No.1, and replacing the old cinder walk. The department of biology moved from science hall to the agricultural building, its former rooms in science hall being added to those of the physics department. A model dairy barn and four smaller buildings for individual animals were erected back of the experiment barn and plats for experiments in curative treatment of bovine tuberculosis.

The first basketball team of the V. P. I. was formed, largely through the activity of Cadet Hargrove.

Governor Swanson honored the college with his presence at Commencement.

Attendance this session: 546.

Faculty row, horticulture building, 1896
Faculty row, horticulture building, 1896

Session of 1908-09. This session saw many changes. A school for apprentices was established along agricultural lines, with Professor G. W. Walker as head-master. Entrance requirements to the college were raised in English and mathematics. Spanish was substituted for Latin, of co-ordinate value with French and German, and the modern language course was made a three-year course in one language. Mining engineering was established. The schedule was changed to four morning fifty-minute periods for recitations and one hour for military, with a three-hour practical laboratory period in the afternoon. The three lower years were designed for general academic and fundamental preparation, and the senior year was devoted exclusively to intensive specialistic work. The graduate department with Dr. Barlow as dean was made one of the five regular college departments. The executive council was abolished, its duties being assumed by the president, commandant, secretary of the faculty, and the different faculty committees, of which latter there were not a few. The battery organization was abolished, and the two muzzle-loading cannon belonging to the War Department of the United States were turned in, and two new breech-loading guns were received in their place.

Mr. J. Thompson Brown's term of office on the board having expired, he was not reappointed by the Governor, and Mr. J. C. Carrington was elected rector of the board of visitors.

Mr. H. S. Stahl ('07) was appointed instructor in biology.

A graduate manager of athletics was elected to hold office as long as he was satisfactory to the corps. Also an athletic director, to devote his entire time to the development of athletics. Mr. Miles was elected graduate manager, and Mr. R. M. Brown, of Dartmouth, director.

A concrete esplanade, sixteen feet wide, was made, connecting the barracks buildings together and joining to the concrete way from Barrack No.1 to the mess, and a mining engineering building was erected to the west of science hall and south of the power-plant. Cold-storage rooms were added to the mess hall.

The student-body was developed into a corps organization, the honor system was officially adopted by it, and student officers were elected. A constitution and by-laws were also adopted. At a later meeting, the corps voted to abolish hazing at V. P. I. after January, 1909. On January 22, V. P. I. played her first intercollegiate basketball game, in Blacksburg, with Emory and Henry college, winning by a score of 33-26. The game was played in the new stone auditorium.

In March, 1909, Mr. Branch Bocock was elected athletic coach, and in April it was decided to level and improve the athletic field and renovate the grand stand. The forgotten name of "Sheib Field" was superceded by that of "Miles Field" for the improved grounds, in honor of Mr. C. P. Miles.

The apprentice course was made a one-year course, designed for young farmers. The board appropriated money for hydrants on each floor of the barracks buildings. During the year the ground in front of Barrack No.1 was leveled and terraced, and two mounted cannon were placed on the terrace. Six arc-lights were installed about the campus, and two concrete bridges were built over the stream in front of the agricultural hall.

Attendance this session, 565.

Session of 1909-10. Changes in the uniform of the corps included the disuse of khaki, and the adoption of the gray "coatee," the latter used for full dress.

Dr. Hudnall, who had been seriously ill, returned to his duties, Captain W. R. Dashiell, 24th U. S. Infantry, was detailed as commandant in place of Captain Jamerson; and Dr. N. S. Mayo succeeded Dr. Spencer, resigned, as professor of veterinary medicine. Mr. Midyett was made instructor in modern languages, and Mr. Reidlich, of Stuttgart, Germany, took charge as instructor in graphics. C. B. Walker ('08) was appointed assistant in chemistry and in the military department.

Illness again forced Dr. Hudnall to lay aside his duties, which were performed in his absence by the department of rhetoric. Dean Price and Dr. Ellett attended the meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Experiment Stations, in Portland, Oregon.

The publication of "The Gray Jacket" was discontinued.

J. L. Phillips resigned as state entomologist, and Miss Mary Lacy as librarian. James M. Teany, in charge of forge and foundry work, died on February 15, and professor George W. Walker died at the home of his daughter near Asheville, North Carolina, on March 17. The following resignations occurred: Professor Worthington, modern language department; Professor Abbott, English; and H. E. Allen, animal husbandry, Messrs. J. J. Davis, in modern languages, and Gudheim, in graphics, were made associate professors.

V. P. I. won the Southern Championship in football, winning every game played.

The two academic buildings were each provided with a steam-heating system, and entrances were made on their western sides, with concrete steps, for easier access to and from the barracks. A new reservoir was built for the water supply at the big spring; shower-baths were installed in the basement of Barrack No.2, and a new laboratory for the engineering department was arranged in the basement of Academic Building No. 1.

Attendance this session, 509.

Session of 1910-11. The board of visitors elected as rector, Mr. L. E. Johnson, president of the Norfolk and Western Railroad, who had been appointed a member of the board.

The school of agricultural apprentices was changed from a preparatory course for the freshman year to a purely one-year course for farmers.

The following appointments were made: Dr. E. A. Back, state entomologist and entomologist at the experiment station; H. M. Arnold, associate professor of rhetoric; E. W. Lawson, associate professor of animal husbandry; and as instructors: Messrs. Smithey, modern languages; McCown, rhetoric; Robeson, mathematics and experimental engineering; Coleman, electrical engineering, and Angel, physics. Miss Ethel Lacy was appointed librarian. Professor Midyette resigned from the modern language department; Colonel Brodie, as assistant commandant; McTier, as musical director, and C. B. Walker, in physics. Cadet M. C. Smith acted as band-master for the session. Mr. A. W. Drinkard, Jr., was granted a two-years' leave of absence to pursue advanced work in horticulture at Cornell, looking toward his doctorate, and Mr. G. C. Starcher was appointed to serve during his absence.

A cement walk was laid, connecting the Y. M. C. A. with the stone steps between Barracks 3 and 5.

The first number of "The Skirmisher" appeared, being the old "Gray Jacket" in another form and under a new name.

On November 23, the corps, en route for Norfolk, stopped over in Richmond and the battalion was reviewed by President Taft. In the afternoon, the corps escorted the president to the auditorium. In December, V. P. I. sent a delegation of students to the International Stock Show in Chicago, being the only Southern college represented. On January 31, 1911, 700 representative farmers, in attendance at the state institute in Roanoke, visited V. P. I. They were escorted over the grounds and were addressed by President Barringer and Governor Mann.

The farmers' short course was held from January 16 to February 11.

Mr. Bocock resigned as athletic director to accept a position at the University of North Carolina, and Mr. L. W. Reiss was chosen in his place. The basketball championship was won by the Tech team of 1911.

The tailor-shop was moved from its old quarters over the laundry to the room over the board rooms in the wing of the auditorium, where it now is.

After a lapse of several years, the Lee and Maury Societies were revived, and interest was developed in their exercises. Mr. O. R. Magill succeeded Mr. Wear as secretary of the Y. M. C. A. and was a most successful and popular secretary, doing excellent work.

Stoops were built in front of Barracks 4 and 5 and concrete walks were laid connecting them with science hall and the academic buildings.

Lieutenant J. F. Ware ('02), of the 16th U. S. Infantry, an "All South" end in his football days, was appointed commandant, succeeding Major Dashiell.

Attendance this session, 471.

Session of 1911-12. Improvements in the course of electrical engineering were put into effect this session. There were also offered degree courses in chemical and agricultural engineering, and a department was established in forestry, irrigation, and drainage, the course therein leading to a degree; and the entrance requirements to the freshman class were raised to fourteen units.

Appointments: C. B. Walker and G. B. Bright, assistant commandants; C. B. Walker and J. B. Lucas, assistants in chemistry; D. P. Clemmer, instructor in graphics; Ashe Lockart, assistant in animal husbandry; Messrs. MacKan and Chilton, assistants in physics; and Mr. J. P. Harvey was again made leader of the band and clerk to the superintendent of buildings and grounds. The following resigned:

Instructors Mallory, Moorefield, Angell, Reidlich, Ayre and Coleman; and Miss Neilson, executive clerk.

In February, Mr. John H. Shultz resigned as mess steward after fourteen years of satisfactory service, and Mr. Julius Shultz finished out the session as acting steward until the election of Mr. Bierne Ellison in June, when Mr. Julius Shultz took charge of the college book store.

On February 21, the Maury Society won the loving-cup recently presented by Professor A. W. Drinkard, which was to be contended for in debate each year on the same date by the Maury and Lee Societies.

In June, Colonel Brodie sailed for Scotland, and Dr. Mayo for Panama, on a holiday excursion. Dr. Back resigned as entomologist in July, to take up work for the Government in Hawaii. Mr. Branch Bocock was elected to return next session as athletic coach.

A new road was graded from the alumni gate to the First Academic Building, the hill by the infirmary being cut down to a better grade. The town and college rejoiced at the erection of a new and modern railroad depot, to replace the old shack that had served up to this time. The town also put in a water and sewerage system, being part of the college system.

Attendance this session, 463.

At the July meeting of the board, Dr. Barringer tendered his resignation as president. This was accepted, but he consented to serve until July, 1913.

Athletic field, 1896
Athletic field in 1896, showing a field day event. There was no track and the ground was very rough. At the right is shown the residence then occupied by Prof. Campbell, later removed for the Library Building.

Session of 1912-13. Dr. Reed and Mr. F. L. Robeson were granted a year's leave of absence for further study. Resignations:

Dr. Frank Wilson, professor of chemistry; Colonel R. A. Marr, professor of civil engineering and dean of the engineering department; F. S. Holmes, assistant commandant and instructor in horticulture; J. S. Cooley, plant pathologist.

By action of the board of control of the experiment station, the director had been allowed to grant leaves of absence for further study to promising young men on the station staff. Dr. Drinkard had already availed himself of this privilege, and had returned to V. P. I. after gaining his doctorate at Cornell. Mr. E. B. Fred was granted this leave and spent two years in Germany, returning with improved ability and enthusiasm to his work in soil bacteriology. Now Mr. T. B. Hutcheson was given a leave for further study. In this way, the station aimed to build up a strong research staff. In Mr. Hutcheson's absence, Mr. A. N. Hodgson was appointed assistant agronomist, and Mr. C. H. Crabill in plant pathology.

The Southern Railway established a scholarship amounting to $250 each year for four years, the beneficiary being required to promise that for at least three years after the end of his scholarship he would farm in territory contiguous to a line of the Southern Railroad system, or to teach agriculture, or work on an experiment farm in some state traversed by lines of the Southern system. Mr. T. P. Hill was the first beneficiary selected from among thirty-five applicants.

Following Colonel Marrs resignation, Professor O. C. Burkhart was temporarily put in charge of civil engineering.

first field team, 1896

In November, a special course was held for dairymen.

Mr. H. N. Faulkner, assistant in mechanic arts, died in December.

In January, two wireless stations were installed on the campus, on top of science hall and agricultural hall. The county demonstrators, forty-eight in number, spent six weeks at V. P. I. during January and February, taking a course in practical farming, and also the usual four-weeks farmers' winter course with the 30 other men enrolled in that course.

On February 1 the debt of $2,500 against the Y. M. C. A. was paid. Mr. C. P. Miles acted as coach for the baseball team this spring. A new dance club, "The Cotillion," was organized among the students. This spring saw the demise of "The Skirmisher" which had fought, against odds, to be the successor of the defunct "Gray Jacket."

The college again sustained a most serious loss by fire in the early hours of Saturday morning, June 14, during the Commencement festivities, by the burning of the machine shop. The machinery, tools, etc., and the building itself were destroyed. During the summer arrangements were made to use the old pavilion as a shop until further provision could be made. The infirmary was renovated, the sick wards modernized, and a modern heating system installed in the excavated basement.

At this time Mr. L. E. Johnson retired from the board of visitors, and Mr. J. Thompson Brown was again elected rector, he having been reappointed to the board by the Governor.

At the July meeting of the board, Mr. R. B. H. Begg ('99) was elected to the chair of civil engineering; Dr. W. G. Chrisman ('01) to that of animal husbandry and veterinary science, and Dr. J. W. Watson to that of inorganic chemistry. Resignations: Dr. N. S. Mayo, professor of animal husbandry and veterinary science; Ashe Lockart, instructor in animal husbandry; T. B. Hutcheson, agronomy; also Instructors R. H. Chilton and Chappelear, and Assistants MacKan, Taylor, McCabe, and C. H. Chilton.

Attendance this session, 471.

On July 1, Mr. Joseph D. Eggleston, for some time a member of the board as state superintendent of public instruction, entered upon his duties as president of the V. P. I.


In review of Dr. Barringer's services to V. P. I., it may be noted that when he took office in 1907 the entrance requirements were four units, and they were gradually raised during his term of service, until in 1912 they were fourteen units for the session of 1914-15. Agriculture was emphasized by the strengthening of the teaching staff, the addition of a professor of mycology, a degree course in agricultural engineering, and a department of forestry, irrigation and drainage; the farmers' winter course, established in 1907, was maintained and strengthened; and the school of agricultural apprentices was established and developed into a two-year practical course in agriculture. Numerous improvements were made which promoted and increased the comfort and conveniences of the students and improved their sanitary environment. The source of the college water supply was safeguarded by appropriate masonry. The danger of a typhoid epidemic in Blacksburg was reduced by extending to the town the college water and sewerage lines. Water was supplied to the barracks buildings; concrete walks replaced the old cinder paths on routes most used by the students. When Dr. Barringer became president, the Legislature appropriated $30,000 to cover a deficit then existing, and from that time to the close of Dr. Barringer's administration, the institute was maintained free from debt, except the bond issues of 1896 and 1900.