Chapter 6 -- The Present
This brings the history to President Burruss' administration, which has opened with so much promise of greater things. It is worthy of note that the session of 1921-22 sees a board with four alumni among its members, an alumnus as president, and a faculty, about one-half of whose members are alumni who have proved themselves in other fields and have been called back to serve their alma mater. With board, president, and faculty animated by a spirit to advance V. P. I. in every field of legitimate endeavor, we can look hopefully to the future increasing value and usefulness of the college to the people of Virginia and to the Nation.
The historical summary prepared by Professor Smyth reaches only to the beginning of the present administration. Believing that the alumni and other friends of the institution wish to know something of the accomplishments of the three years now closing, it is considered not inappropriate to add the statements which follow.
The entire organization of the institution has been revised as shown in the accompanying chart.
Closer co-operation among the various divisions of the institution, particularly the main divisions of resident instruction, extension, and research in agriculture has been secured; and closer and more sympathetic relationship with other agricultural agencies in Virginia has been established. A mutually helpful affiliation has been arranged between the Virginia Truck Experiment Station and the college, particularly for research and extension work; and an arrangement with the Blacksburg high school for teacher-training purposes has been operated successfully for two years.
The agricultural experiment station has added to its equipment and resources and has begun a period of expansion.
The extension division has added to its staff and to its projects, and it has been brought into close correlation with the experiment station and the division of resident instruction.
The summer school has been reorganized and enlarged, and it is being put upon a sound basis, so that next year it will be in every sense an integral part of the college session. Summer activities in connection with the boys and girls clubs, the farmers institute, etc., under the direction of the extension division, have been greatly expanded.
Net additions to the regular resident faculty of the college number twenty-seven members, plus nineteen additional instructors and assistants.
All of the curricula of the college have been completely reorganized and modernized. The general curriculum in agriculture has been superseded by six co-ordinate curricula, in agricultural education, agricultural engineering, agronomy, animal husbandry, dairy husbandry, and horticulture. Curricula in industrial education and commercial engineering have been established, co-ordinate with the other four-year engineering curricula. The civil engineering curriculum now permits specialization in highway engineering; and the mining engineering curriculum permits specialization in coal mining engineering. The curriculum in general science has been eliminated, but four-year programs are maintained in biology, chemistry, geology, and metallurgy; and a definitely outlined pre-medical curriculum has been provided. A two-year curriculum in practical mechanics and a short unit course in printing have been added. Foreign languages are elective but no longer required.
New departments have been developed in agricultural engineering, education, industrial education, physical education (including hygiene, and physical training), poultry husbandry, social science (including agricultural economics, industrial economics, citizenship, human relations, and a number of courses in business administration, business law, finance, accounting, etc.) In the department of English, courses in agricultural journalism, technical English, and public speaking, have been inaugurated.
A credit-hour system, such as is in operation at the best colleges of the country, has been in use for the past two years, in the effort to apportion equitably a student's time among the various departments in which he is working.
The marking system of the college has been completely changed, for the first time in thirty years; and a modern system of quality-credits and symbols has been adopted. Minimum standards of scholarship have been set, below which if a student falls he is required to leave the institution. Students whose conduct or classwork is below the standard have been consistently dropped from the rolls during the current year.
The regulations for the government of the students have been completely revised.
The annual catalog has been completely re-written; and the bulletin has been changed from a quarterly to a bi-monthly, with a definite objective for each number during the year.
A department of industrial education for teacher-training in trades and industries, under the Smith-Hughes law, has been established; and this department in addition to its resident instruction offers extension courses for teachers in service.
A department of health, with a full-time health officer, has been provided.
The laboratories of the State Highway Commission for the testing of road materials, have been established at this college as a part of the department of civil engineering.
An engineering experiment station has been started, on a modest basis, and this has already done some good work.
The number of United States army officers regularly assigned to the college has been increased from two to seven, and in addition seven sergeants and two mechanics have been detailed here from the regular army. R. O. T. C. units in coast artillery, engineering, and infantry are regularly maintained, on a large scale.
The old brick shops building has been converted into a military laboratory with shooting-gallery and rooms for various military purposes. The outdoor rifle range has been improved and a pistol range established. Approximately three hundred thousand dollars worth of military equipment has been added by the War Department, chiefly for the coast artillery and engineering units. Many new instruments have been supplied for the use of the band.
For three successive years the institution has been given the highest military rank by the War Department, as a "distinguished college"; yet this college claims to be merely a technical institution with a military department.
The athletic interests have been brought into closer connection with the college organization, the athletic director being made a member of the faculty and the athletic coaches having regular rank on the instructional staff. Mass athletics and minor sports are being greatly developed, and physical education and hygiene are now required of all freshmen and are elective for others.
The college has joined the southern intercollegiate athletic conference, composed of fifteen of the leading institutions in this section, and this has established very important regulations for raising and maintaining athletic standards.
A subsidiary athletic field has been graded by the Athletic Association. The college has constructed a number of additional tennis courts and has added to the gymnasium a considerable amount of equipment for indoor sports.
The enrolment of regular session students has been more than doubled since 1919, being now 980, which is more than thirty-four per cent greater than the enrolment of any previous year in the history of the college.
The entrance requirements have been raised from fourteen units, with conditional entrance allowed on twelve units, to fifteen units with no quantitative conditions whatever, and admission has been restricted to graduates of accredited four-year high schools and other institutions recognized as standard by the State Department of Public Instruction and the state university, thus bringing the requirements for admission to the highest standard.
Women have been admitted to all curricula of the college on the same basis as men.
The time devoted to term examinations has been cut to about one-half, thus affording more time for actual instruction; and classes are started on the second day of the session instead of using four or five days for registration as formerly.
Orientation and introductory courses for freshmen have been inaugurated. Faculty advisers have been appointed for students. The student assembly has been revived.
Eight teaching fellowships for graduates of this and other institutions have been established.
Three undergraduate scholarships have been established, for the students who lead in scholarship in the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes respectively.
A chapter of the honor society of Phi Kappa Phi has been inaugurated, to which members of the faculty in limited number and a likewise limited number of senior students are eligible strictly on a basis of scholarship.
The literary societies have been revived after being dead for several years; and despite the fact that because of over-crowded conditions it has been necessary to use their halls for classroom purposes, they have grown in numbers and in interest, and the first public program in many years was held this year.
The state appropriations to the college proper have been increased 106 per cent, to the experiment station 73 per cent, to the extension division 118 per cent, and to certain affiliated interests 48 per cent, with an increase in the total for all divisions of 100 per cent over 1918-19.
Federal funds for teacher-training in vocational agriculture and for extension work in agriculture and home economics have been increased.
The loan funds and scholarships have been enlarged.
The service and commercial departments have been put on a business basis. The accounting has been centralized in one business office. The entire institution has been placed on a budget system, with a definite allocation of funds and with control of expenditures through the central business office. A requisition system for purchases and also for job-work has been put into operation. The office of business manager has been created.
The floating debt has been reduced to a comparatively small amount, being now only about one-half of its amount three years ago. During the three years now closing neither the bonded debt nor the floating debt has been increased. The sinking-fund for the bonded debt is being built up. A reserve fund is being accumulated to meet claims under the workmen's compensation law.
A new and more equitable salary scale, providing definite ranges of salaries for the various grades of positions, has been adopted for the instructional staff; and a definite and fair plan of house assignment for professors has been established.
The salaries of members of the faculty have been increased by an average of about thirty per cent in three years; and the salaries of all other employees have been proportionately increased.
A splendid farm of 176 acres has been purchased and paid for in full. Another tract of about ten acres has been acquired, and also a lot of about two acres, both being paid for at the tiime [sic] of purchase.
A small building has been erected for the department of agricultural education, of which a portion is now used for the department of industrial education and also for an office for the alumni association.
One professor's house has been added by purchase and another by erection. A brick, two-story apartment house, for four families, has been erected by the extension division. Two cottages have been erected for farm labor. All of these have been paid for in full.
A large wooden structure has been erected to house the farm machinery secured by the department of agricultural engineering.
A poultry plant of considerable proportions is being developed. A printing department, which publishes the bulletins, catalogs, etc., of the college, and trains linotype machine operators, has been established and is being operated with a large output of work.
A large storage yard, with sheds, stables, and other structures, has been provided near the campus, permitting the removal of a number of unsightly structures from the campus.
Many new walks have been made on the campus, some of the drives have been laid out anew, sodding and planting have been done in various places.
The farm plant is now in process of renovation, several buildings have been considerably enlarged, new structures have been erected, old and dilapidated fences are being replaced by modern fencing, considerable grading and clearing up of the grounds has been accomplished, and all of the barns and sheds have been painted, so that when these improvements are completed the entire farm plant will have been overhauled and put in good condition.
The attic of the agricultural hall has been developed for agronomy laboratories, and the space allotted to dairy husbandry has been increased by providing new quarters for stock-judging. Improvements have been made in the science hall, strengthening the building and better adapting it to the heavy use which is made of it. Steps have been built at the front of the mechanic arts building, and the two tower rooms have been developed for use as highway engineering testing laboratories. Certain offices in the administration building have been greatly improved, and various other improvements of a more or less important character have been made.
The interior of Academic Building No. 2 has been completely remodeled so as to economize space and to make available an additional story, but this work has not been entirely finished.
Improvements, at considerable expense, have been made to the water-supply system and to the sewage disposal plant.
Improvements have been made to the laundry building and a considerable amount has been expended for new laundry machinery.
A new engine and dynamo room has been built at the power plant, and the old engines, dynamos, and accessories have been completely replaced with modern equipment, giving increased and better distributed capacity. The old engine room is being converted into an experimental engineering laboratory. The lights on the streets of the town and on the campus, for the most part, have been put on a series system with control at the power-plant. The distribution system has been re-arranged in a number of independent circuits, each with central control. A large number of additional lights have been placed on the grounds.
Practically every building on the campus has been painted on the outside, and some also on the inside. The interior of the assembly hall has been completely renovated, with important changes to the stage.
The Y. M. C. A. building has been greatly improved inside, through the efforts of the ladies' auxiliary and other friends.
The laboratory equipment of all departments has been largely increased, in some cases more than doubled. A large amount of valuable engineering equipment has been added, particularly for experimental engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanic arts. Many additions have been made to the libraries. Much general classroom and office furniture has been added. Equipment for fire protection has been increased.
Contract has been made for the building of a bituminous macadam road, sixteen feet in width, from the alumni gateway to the Y. M. C. A. building, and of a similar road, twelve feet in width, from the street to the power-plant, so that these roads will be no longer impassable in winter.
Plans have been made for remodeling the kitchen wing of the dining-hall, and for remodeling the hospital; and the work will be completed during the coming summer.
Funds have been made available for remodeling the heating system of the library building, and this will be made comfortable before next winter.
Funds have been provided and plans are now being made for the establishment of beef-cattle herds in the department of animal husbandry.