Administrative services and staff guidance for Virginia Tech students comes from the Division of Student Affairs (formerly called the Student Personnel Division), headed by a vice president for student affairs. The division includes the Office of the Dean of Students, which was changed to Student Life 2004-06 (briefly, 2003-04, called the Office of Student Life and Advocacy) and back to Dean of Students in 2007, and other offices charged with directing residence hall programs, student services, military affairs, health affairs, job placement, and guidance and counseling. In 2003 the division was reorganized into three main program areas, each headed by an assistant or associate vice president.
Vice President for Student Affairs: The Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs was established Sept. 1, 1968. The position developed from other positions that worked with students: Civilian Student Advisers: Clarence J. Hyslup, 1937-38; R. P. Snead, 1939-42; John M. Barringer, 1942-43; post suspended, 1943-45; Earl J. Shiflet, 1945-46. Director of Student Affairs: R. E. Bates, 1947-52; title change 1952-58; Marcus L. Oliver (acting), 1958-59. Director of Civilian Students and Coordinator of Student Activities: Joe W. Guthridge, 1952-58. Director of Student Affairs and Dean of Civilian Students: James W. Dean, 1959-63. Dean of Students: James W. Dean, 1963-68. Vice President for Student Affairs: James W. Dean, 1968-81; Sandra Sullivan, 1982-88; Thomas G. Goodale, 1988-95; Landrum L. Cross, 1995-2005; Zenobia Lawrence Hikes, 2005-08 (she passed away in October 2008 due to complications following heart surgery); Edward F. D. Spencer, 2008-2012; Patricia A. Perillo, 2012-present. From 1990-2003 and again beginning in 2007, a Dean of Students was also named and reported to the vice president.
Dean of Students: The title existed briefly March-August 1924 and was occupied by Henry F. Holtzclaw, but it was not established more permanently until 1963. James W. Dean filled the position until 1968, when it was eliminated in favor of a vice president for student affairs. However, Vice President for Student Affairs Thomas G. Goodale revived the position in 1990, with the following people holding the position: Beverly Sgro, 1990-94; Cathryn Goree, 1995-98; Barbara Pendergrass, 1998-2003; J. Thomas Brown, 2006-07 (interim); 2007-2018; Byron Hughes, 2018- . The position was eliminated upon the retirement of Pendergrass and responsibilities of the office assumed by other offices, including a new Office of Student Life and Advocacy under an interim director: J. Thomas Brown, 2003-04. The name of the office was changed in 2004 to Office of Student Life, with a permanent director: J. Thomas Brown, 2004-2006. In 2006, the Office of the Dean of Students was resurrected and interviews began to name a new dean of students. The search continued into 2007, with Brown serving as interim. Brown was named dean of students in 2007. Byron Hughes became dean of students effective Oct. 1, 2018. Hughes had served as director of Fraternity and Sorority Life at Virginia Tech since 2013.
Dean for Student Programs: This office had its origin in a combination of the former dean of men and dean of women offices. From 1947-1965, the responsibilities of the Dean of Women were associated with the Office of Advisor to Civilian Students. Lineage: Dean of Men: J. Gordon Brown, 1964-68. Dean of Women: Mildred Tate, 1937-42 (without title), 1942-47; Audrey L. Rentz, 1965-66; Martha B. Harder, 1966-68. Dean of Men’s and Women’s Residence Programs: Martha B. Harder, 1968-71. Dean of Student Affairs: J. Gordon Brown, 1972-78. Dean for Student Programs: D. E. Hill, 1971-77; Dean of Student Services and Programs: J. Gordon Brown (1979-80).
Commandant of Cadets: See under Corps of Cadets.
Thomas E. Cook Counseling Center: Established in July 1963, the counseling center absorbed the guidance phase of the former Guidance and Placement Office, which had been established in September 1935. In 1998 the center was named in honor of Thomas E. Cook, who spent 26 years as director of university counseling services before retiring in 1992.
Career Services Center: Established in 1994 as a result of a merger between University Placement Services, the Cooperative Education Program, and Career Resource Center. Provides information, resources, services, and advising to advance students’ learning and guide their actions related to developing and working toward their career-related goals. Concentrates on information technology, recruiting services, cooperative education and internships, student services, and employer services. Moved from Henderson Hall in 2004 to a new career services building, which was named the Garnett E. and Patsy T. Smith Career Center in October 2007. Effective July 1, 2016, the office was called Career and Professional Development.
University Placement Services: Established July 1963, this office absorbed the placement phase of the former Guidance and Placement Office, which had been established in September 1935. During austere times in the 1990s, President Torgersen moved it to the Career Services Center. Located in Burruss, Patton, and Henderson Halls over the years before becoming part of Career Services.
Schiffert Student Health Center: The first mention of an infirmary for students is in the “Report of the College” for 1875-76 in which it was noted that “a hospital has been provided and a physician appointed to furnish attendance and medicine to sick students.” Students paid $5 a year for this service. The infirmary occupied several different locations before moving to the oldest section of the present Henderson Hall in 1902 (the oldest section is the first home built to house presidents). A full-time health officer was appointed with the establishment of the health department in 1920. In 1998 the infirmary was moved to the new McComas Student Health and Fitness Center and was named in honor of Dr. Charles W. Schiffert (1921-2016), staff physician 1968-71 and director of student health services 1971-86.