Virginia Tech A to Z
Letters are special.
They represent one of life’s earliest milestones and one of the quickest sparks for our memories. They provide a shared way to learn about the world and a personal basis for our unique identities. And they even play a key role in some of our favorite group activities, such as spelling “H-O-K-I-E-S” with 66,000 or so of our closest friends.
As Virginia Tech celebrates its 150th anniversary, it only makes sense that letters also provide the foundation — crafted in the spirit of a children’s book — for exploring the quintessential people, places, events, and activities that make our university great. We hope each letter sparks memories and conversations filled with what may be slightly exaggerated tales and what surely are bold aspirations for the future.
Such lists are primed for friendly debate and discussion, so we invite you to the conversation by sharing the letters and words that mean the most to you. Email us: VTMag@vt.edu.
We don’t think it’s a coincidence that “H” is for both “home” and “Hokies” and “S” is for both “sesquicentennial” and “special.” So, without further ado—and brought to you by the letters “V” and “T” and the number "150"—we present Virginia Tech from A to Z.
Addison Caldwell - Virginia Tech’s first student who walked across two mountains from his home in Sinking Creek in Craig County, Virginia, to Blacksburg to enroll.
Agricultural Research and Extension Centers – There are 11 sites across Virginia.
Agriculture - One of the first fields of study included the study of fields.
Alumni - There are more than 100 chapters of these special people across the globe. Have you found yours yet?
Big Event, The - A student-run day of service that has grown into the second-largest event of its kind in the nation.
Bimbo Coles - Our first student-athlete to compete in the Olympics by making the 1988 U.S. men’s basketball team.
Blacksburg - Founded in 1798 on a 38-acre tract laid out and deeded by William Black.
The Bugle - The Virginia Tech yearbook debuted in 1895.
Burchard Hall - Built in 1998 to house studio space for the architecture and industrial design programs. The building was constructed underground -- with four pyramidal skylights illuminating studio spaces below -- to preserve Cowgill Plaza, a popular meeting place and campus thoroughfare.
Burnt Orange - Every Hokie’s favorite shade of orange.
Burruss Hall - Built in 1936 and named for Virginia Tech’s eighth president, Julian Ashby Burruss, this is the main administration building on campus, home to a 3,003-seat auditorium, and a visual hallmark of Blacksburg.
Cassell Coliseum - Construction began on the venue named for Stuart K. Cassell in September 1961, which hosted its first men’s basketball game in January 1962.
Corps of Cadets - Virginia Tech is one of two public universities in the country with both an active corps of cadets and a “civilian” lifestyle on its campus.
Chicago Maroon - Every Hokie’s favorite shade of maroon.
Cheesy Nights - The University Libraries' annual effort to keep Hokies filled with grilled cheese sandwiches and fueled for finals.
Cornerstone Alumni - Our most passionate and respected alumni who have served as the foundation of the university for more than 50 years.
Corporate Research Center - Helping translate research to commercial potential and home to more than 750 organizations since 1985.
Duck Pond - Built in the mid-1930s, it’s a Hokie favorite for a stroll or picnic.
Drillfield - The site of cadet maneuvers, sporting events, demonstrations, and displays of campus unity since 1894.
Dining Services - It's become a tradition to be regularly being ranked among the top in the nation.
Dogs - From therapy dogs to the Corps of Cadets' canine ambassador, they really are a Hokie’s best friend.
Drone Park - The football-field-sized facility gives students, researchers, employees, and members of the community a place to explore Unmanned Aircraft Systems operations without the constraints of registration, certification, or specialized training.
D.C. Area - Home to graduate education programs since 1969.
Eggleston Hall - Named for Joseph Dupuy Eggleston, president from 1913-19, who, among other things, spurred the move toward Collegiate Gothic architecture.
Equine - Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center is a premier, full-service hospital for horses in Leesburg, Virginia.
Virginia Cooperative Extension - Local offices in a combined 108 counties and cities provide Virginians with needs-based programming and ample opportunities to connect with research-based solutions.
Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC - Located in Roanoke, it's one of the nation’s fastest-growing academic biomedical research enterprises and a destination for world-class researchers.
Frank Beamer - As the Hokies’ head football coach from 1987-2015, the 1969 graduate led the team to a 238-121-2 record and 23 consecutive bowl appearances.
FFA - Founded on campus in 1925 by four Virginia Tech agricultural education teachers. Back then, it was called Future Farmers of Virginia.
Gobblers - Often “fighting,” this original nickname came, according to university folklore, from the way student athletes would “gobble” up their food.
Gargoyles - Finding all 15 of these on campus before graduation is a rite of passage.
Game-ball run - The homecoming week tradition has been performed by Army ROTC's Ranger Company since 1977.
Graduate Life Center - Bringing graduate academics, community, and residence life together in a way we think you won't find anywhere else in the nation.
Giving Day - The annual 24-hour celebration of the Hokie Spirit and the power of giving back.
Global Business and Analytics Complex (GBAC) - Designed to bring together students, faculty, and industry partners to learn, work, and even live in an environment that fosters data literacy, GBAC builds on the university’s strong academic reputation in data and decision sciences.
Hokie Stone - More jewel than rock, it was first used in campus building construction in 1899. Today, all new central campus buildings must bear the distinctive limestone.
HokieBird - Source of the world’s best hugs and high-fives.
Highty-Tighties - Part of the Corps of Cadets, it's the oldest collegiate band in Virginia.
Holtzman Alumni Center - Built in 2005 and named for William B. Holtzman, a 1959 alum and long-time supporter.
Hillcrest Hall - First occupied in 1940, it was the first residence built specifically to house female students.
Hahn Horticulture Garden - Founded by faculty members Robert Lyons, Robert McDuffie, and Richard Johnson and later named for former university first lady Peggy Lee Hahn.
Innovation Campus - Located in the Potomac Yard area of Alexandria, the 3.5-acre campus is a bold, new vision for graduate education in computer science and computer engineering. It’s set to open in 2024.
Irving Peddrew - In 1953, he became the first Black student admitted.
Institutes - Our seven research institutes enhance the university's ability to address large-scale research opportunities by crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries.
Jumping - It’s been done in Lane Stadium to “Enter Sandman” since 2000.
Jeu, Tien Liang - The first student from an Asian country to graduate in 1924.
Jobs - On the campus in Blacksburg and at other sites across the state and around the world, more than 13,000 people are employed by Virginia Tech.
Kentland Farm - Part of the College Farm Operation that includes six tracts totaling 3,000 acres in the Blacksburg area.
Kraft Drive - Near central campus, this street is named for Chris Kraft ’44, NASA’s first flight director and father of the mission control center.
Kotb, Hoda - The 1986 graduate is the current co-anchor of the NBC News morning show “Today.”
Land-grant university - A result of the 1862 Morrill Act, the university has a mission to teach, conduct research, and provide service to communities.
Lane Stadium - Named for Edward Hudson Lane, the stadium has been the home of Hokie football since 1965.
Lavery, William E. - Our 12th president who oversaw two of the university’s signature facility developments—the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.
LumenHAUS - The Virginia Tech award-winning solar home, was honored with an American Institute of Architects award for architecture. The home now resides on the Blacksburg campus.
Medal of Honor recipients - The eight names are etched in a marble cenotaph, a symbolic tomb, at the center of the court above War Memorial Chapel.
Moss Arts Center - Presenting renowned artists from around the globe and closer to home.
McBryde, John McLaren - President from 1891-1907, he laid foundations in the development of Bachelor of Science degrees and graduate study, granted permanent status for the Corps of Cadets, and started the athletics program.
Marching Virginians - The Spirit of Tech since 1974.
"Moonlight and VPI" - Charles Gaynor and Fred Waring wrote this for the Ring Dance, and it’s been played at each one ever since.
Math Emporium - It’s like a gym for strengthening your ability to crunch numbers.
Massey Herbarium - The largest herbarium in Virginia was founded around 1927 and houses thousands of dried and pressed plant specimens used for research and education.
Nikki Giovanni - World-renowned poet, University Distinguished Professor, and a faithful reminder that we are Virginia Tech.
Newman Library - Founded in 1872 with 500 volumes and named for Carol M. Newman, a professor and dean who became known as the godfather of extracurricular activities.
New Virginians - During its 21 active years, the student song and dance group produced 18 albums and performed two annual on-campus events. In the late 1970s, they embarked on a summer tour across the United States that culminated with an appearance on the “Dinah Shore Show.”
Natural History Museum - Hidden away inside Cheatham Hall, the collection, which was initiated more than 70 years ago, includes 1,000 skulls, 1,000 wet specimens (fish), and 3,000 dry specimens, such as birds, mammals, eggs, and pelts.
O.M. Stull - Class of 1896, won a $5 prize for coming up with a new spirit cheer that included the word “Hoki” and is now known as “Old Hokie.”
The Pylons - The Pylons bear the names of every Virginia Tech student and graduate who died defending our nation’s freedom, from World War I forward.
President Tim Sands - The 16th and current president of Virginia Tech., a.k.a, “Sandsman.”
Quarterbacks - Six Hokie QBs have been taken in the NFL draft since it began in 1936. Can you name them?
Upper Quad - Home of the Corps of Cadets.
Quarry - The 40-acre quarry, which is located in Blacksburg, provides 80 percent of the stone used in campus construction
Queen Harrison - Our first female Olympian (2008) and a three-time NCAA champion.
Ring Dance - The Class of 1935 held the first event on April 27, 1934.
Robertson, James “Bud,” Jr. - His Civil War-era course attracted 300 students per semester, the largest of its kind in the nation.
Relay for Life - The annual student-led event assists the efforts of the American Cancer Society.
Research - Ranked in the top 50 for research expenditures by the Higher Education Research and Development Survey.
Rings - We really like them, especially when they are customized. Since 1911, each class has designed its own ring. Additionally, alumni or families of alumni may bequeath or donate their class rings to help create Hokie Gold or be put on display.
Run in Remembrance - Started in 2008, the 3.2-mile event honors the lives of the 32 Hokies lost on April 16, 2007.
Solitude - The oldest structure on the Blacksburg campus.
Stroubles Creek - A roughly 12-mile-long stream that runs through the town of Blacksburg, the Virginia Tech campus, and Montgomery County.
Skipper - Named for John F. Kennedy and debuted in 1963, it sounds like success when fired.
Steger, Charles - President from 2000-14, he helped raise funding, programs, and the profile of the university as it headed into the new millennium.
Switzerland, Riva San Vitale - Home to the Steger Center for International Scholarship.
Seasons - Experience all four in one day while in Blacksburg.
Squires Student Center - A student's one-stop shop for food, bowling, student gathering spaces, the Cultural and Community Centers, and much more.
Storm Chasers - Each spring, the Virginia Tech Geography Department conducts a field course in severe weather forecasting on location in the Great Plains.
Tutelo/Monacan People - The Blacksburg campus was built and operates on their homeland.
Torgersen Hall - Houses offices, laboratory space, classrooms, space for televised distance learning, and two auditoriums; joins Newman Library via an enclosed bridge that spans Alumni Mall and provides reading-room space.
T. Marshall Hahn - President from 1962-74, he transformed Virginia Polytechnic Institute from college status to a major research university.
"Tech Triumph"- Every Hokie’s favorite song, composed in 1919 by Wilfred P. Maddux ’20.
Turkey legs - Is it wrong these are a staple at football games? We don’t talk about that.
Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) - The motto has guided Hokie service, despite often being mispronounced, for decades.
United, Hokies - In the hours after the tragedy on April 16, 2007, this student-driven volunteer group placed the original 32 Hokie Stones on the Drillfield.
Ut Prosim Scholar Award - The university's top honor for faculty has been awarded to three Virginia Tech faculty, Carla Finkielstein, Marc Edwards, and Linsey Marr, since it was established in 2016.
Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine - Previously operated as an independent institution, the public-private partnership became an official college at the university in 2018.
Virginia Tech Agricultural Experiment Station - Established in 1886 with an aim of making research applicable to Virginia farmers.
Virginia Smart Roads - We’re not saying other roads are unintellegent, it’s just that these are some of the world's most advanced testing facilities for transportation technology and safety research.
Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine - A leader in veterinary medicine, biomedical sciences, and public health.
VERnet - The first regional group of research networks using the Internet Protocol, it connected a large variety public and private institutions to a little more known network we now call the Internet.
War Memorial Chapel - The lower level contains a 6,324-square-foot, 260-seat chapel.
Worsham Field - Named for longtime Hokie supporter Wes Worsham.
Ware Lab - One of the first spaces on Virginia Tech’s campus dedicated to the development of undergraduate engineering design and build laboratories.
Women - In 1921, Mary E. Brumfield, Billie Kent Kabrich, Lucy Lee Lancaster, Carrie T. Sibold, and Ruth Louise Terrett became the first women to enroll full-time.
Stability Wind Tunnel - One of the largest university operated wind tunnels in the United States.
Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center - Since 1980, the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center has served as an urban extension for architecture students.
System X - Our first supercomputer, named after the Roman numeral for 10, was assembled in the summer of 2003 by faculty members, staff, and students and was ranked at the time as the third-fastest supercomputer in the world. It was composed of 1,100 Apple PowerMac G5 computers.
VTx - Every Hokie’s one-stop shop, at vtx.vt.edu, for all their favorite stories, photos, and videos.
Yates, Charlie - In 1958, he became the first African American to graduate.
YMCA Building - Now the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Building, it was the first construction on campus to use the limestone slabs we now call, “Hokie Stone.”
Zebras - Not the animal, but the slang which can be used to refer to the people who decided Danny Coale didn’t catch the ball.
ZZZ - Getting enough of these impacts nearly every aspect of physical, cognitive, emotional, and academic life in college. Hokie Wellness offers programming to help Hokies get the quality and quantity they need.
Gen Z and beyond - The future is bright and Hokies have a critical role to play in it. Apply now!