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Virginia Tech History Resources: Board of Visitors

This guide details resources intended to help those doing research on the history of Virginia Tech, including the use of Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries, and related resources.

About the VT Board of Visitors (BOV)

The legislation that created Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) provided for the establishment of a board of visitors as a governing body. Consisting of both appointed and ex-officio members, the board was empowered to select the president and faculty, determine salaries, handle all matters of discipline and student life, and be responsible for all property of the College.

Governor Gilbert C. Walker appointed the first board on March 19, 1872, the day he signed the bill creating the college, and the first meeting was held March 25 and 26 in Richmond. Board appointments are still made by the governor and subject to confirmation by the Virginia Senate. Since its inception, the board has been chaired by a Rector.

Various changes have occurred throughout the years concerning the composition of the board, primarily relating to number and qualifications of appointees and offices to be represented ex-officio. The first board was composed of nine appointed members, with the president of the State Agricultural Society and members of the State Board of Education serving ex-officio. The next year, the makeup was changed so only the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the president of the Agricultural Society served ex-officio. Later, the president of the Agricultural Society was eliminated as an ex-officio member, but the State Superintendent of Public Instruction remained until 1966. The president of the Board of Agriculture and Immigration (now Consumer Services) became an ex-officio member after 1902, now being the only ex-officio member serving with thirteen appointed members. Four non-voting members have been added to represent the faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students.

Online Histories and Exhibits

Collections Related to the BOV and its Members

General Resources

Record groups may include posters, flyers, photos, organizational records, and more. Materials are divided into assigned Record Groups based on the organization or group and designated by the prefix, RG. For example, materials relating to the Board of Visitors are identified as RG 1/x.

Collections Related to the BOV and its Members

Additional BOV Resources

The majority of material from the Board of Visitors, including the official minutes, are housed in the Records Management office. Permission for access should be obtained through the Virginia Tech Office of the President or the Secretary to the Board of Visitors. Special Collections and University Archives will be happy to help you contact them.

Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) are working with the Board of Visitors to digitize the meeting minutes. Please contact SCUA for more information.

About Special Collections and University Archives

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Information for Visitors

Contact
Email: specref@vt.edu
Telephone: 540-231-6308
Twitter: @VT_SCUA
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SCUA Online
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Land & Labor Acknowledgement

We thank the American Indian & Indigenous Community Center for providing this statement:

Virginia Tech acknowledges that we live and work on the Tutelo / Monacan People’s homeland and we recognize their continued relationships with their lands and waterways. We further acknowledge that legislation and practices like the Morrill Act (1862) enabled the commonwealth of Virginia to finance and found Virginia Tech through the forced removal of Native Nations from their lands, both locally and in western territories.

We understand that honoring Native Peoples without explicit material commitments falls short of our institutional responsibilities. Through sustained, transparent, and meaningful engagement with the Tutelo / Monacan Peoples, and other Native Nations, we commit to changing the trajectory of Virginia Tech's history by increasing Indigenous student, staff, and faculty recruitment and retention, diversifying course offerings, and meeting the growing needs of all Virginia tribes and supporting their sovereignty.

We must also recognize that enslaved Black people generated revenue and resources used to establish Virginia Tech and were prohibited from attending until 1953. Through InclusiveVT, the institutional and individual commitment to Ut Prosim (that I may serve) in the spirit of community, diversity, and excellence, we commit to advancing a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.