Council on Virginia Tech History

Examining Virginia Tech's histories in the context of today and the Beyond Boundaries vision for the future as the university prepares for its sesquicentennial.


Virginia Tech is approaching an important milestone of its 150th anniversary in 2022! This milestone provides a unique opportunity to reflect on Virginia Tech's history which has been closely associated with the history of Virginia, the history of the South, and the history of America.

The Council will explore how Virginia Tech might recognize and acknowledge its history in the context of today and the Beyond Boundaries vision for the future as we prepare for our 150th anniversary. Periodically, the Council will communicate its findings in ways that incorporate the university's core missions of teaching and learning, research and discovery, service and engagement. Its findings and recommendations will be shared with the president, the relevant bodies of shared governance, and the broader community.


COUNCIL ON VT HISTORY PROJECTS UNDERWAY

In response to the opportunities offered by Virginia Tech's 150th commemoration in 2022, the Council on Virginia Tech History has developed a comprehensive approach for broad-based programming, endorsed and supported by President Tim Sands, reflecting the multiple perspectives of our shared history. Major features include:

For the 125th anniversary, in 1997, Peter Wallenstein, Professor of History, researched and wrote Virginia Tech, Land-Grant University, 1872-1997. For the 150th, he is preparing a second edition, which he refers to as "Orange 2.0," and a new book, he affectionately calls "Maroon," as an update on the intervening 25 years, as well as an upgraded reconsideration of the full history of the institution and its people and programs. The Council looks to the material brought forward by Wallenstein's research to inform the other dimensions of the commemoration as a substantial resource. 

Dr. Peter Wallenstein of the History department presents at Bringing VT Histories To Life.

Dr. Peter Wallenstein of the History department presents at Bringing VT Histories To Life.

This project, led by Campus Landscape Architect Jack Rosenberger, is completing the building biomarker program, started many years ago, taking inventory, analyzing texts of existing biomarkers, and expanding exterior campus interpretive signage. The project will construct new biomarkers, review and repair existing plaques, and develop other surface treatment to respond to current and anticipated needs. 

Project leader of the Historic Markers group and Campus Landscape Architect, Jack Rosenberger, presents at Bringing VT Histories To Life.

Project leader of the Historic Markers group and Campus Landscape Architect, Jack Rosenberger, presents at Bringing VT Histories To Life.

C.L. Bohannon, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, heads this project to retell the history of Virginia Tech in an inclusive manner using visual art creations in public spaces. The art will tell the story(ies) about the histories of the land and spaces of our campus, and the people who were here before us - using the landscape itself as a way to look at the intersection of our land grant campus and public space. 

Project Leader of the Public Art team, Assistant Professor of the Landscape and Architecture department, and Faculty Principal Leadership and Social Change Residential College, C.L. Bohannon presents at Bringing VT Histories To Life.

Project Leader of the Public Art team, Assistant Professor of the Landscape and Architecture department, and Faculty Principal Leadership and Social Change Residential College, C.L. Bohannon presents at Bringing VT Histories To Life.

Harnessing new technologies, this project, led by Paul Quigley, James I. Robertson, Jr. Associate Professor of Civil War Studies, will present VT's history in its many dimensions. Innovative digital techniques will allow us to see what is normally unseen, reflecting the full diversity of our shared past, and allowing audiences to explore customized stories, places, themes, and populations over time. The team of faculty, staff, and students asks the question, "If this place could talk, what would it tell us?" bringing the university's past to life, including difficult histories that have remained hidden. 

Project Leader of the If This Place Could Talk... team and Associate Professor of the History department Paul Quigley (far right of the television), gathers with fellow project members.

Group of people sit around a monitor with a map displayed on it
Project Leader of the If This Place Could Talk... team and Associate Professor of the History department Paul Quigley (far right of the television), gathers with fellow project members.

This oral history project collects stories of Virginia Tech alumni, faculty, staff, and community members to help illustrate Virginia Tech's complex history as public history. Stories gathered by Katrina Powell, Professor of English, and her team will generate content and facilitate collaboration for presenting Virginia Tech's history. 

VT Stories Project Manager Ren Harman (left) and Council on VT History VT Stories project leader, Co-founder and Coordinator for the Center for Rhetoric in Society, Katrina Powell (right)

VT Stories Project Manager Ren Harman (left) and Council on VT History VT Stories project leader, Co-founder and Coordinator for the Center for Rhetoric in Society, Katrina Powell (right)

Live performance in theatre, dance, and music will bring VT histories to life. Coordinated by Paul Steger, Director of the School of Performing Arts, this project is creating narrative and performance events to illuminate those things in our shared histories and personal memories we may not notice but influence us on a daily basis. 

Presidential Post-Doctorate Fellow Devair Jeffries and other performers of the Voices in the Stone project perform an opening act for Bringing VT Histories To Life.

Presidential Post-Doctorate Fellow Devair Jeffries and other performers of the Voices in the Stone project perform an opening act for Bringing VT Histories To Life.