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Virginia Tech History Resources: Presidents

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 Presidents of Virginia Tech

The Office of the President was established in the founding year of the university, 1872, and is appointed by the Board of Visitors. Since its founding, the university has had 16 official presidents (as of 2020):

  1. Charles Landon Carter Minor, 1872-1879
  2. John Lee Buchanan, March 1-June 12, 1880, 1881-1882 (two terms officially counted as one)
  3. Thomas Nelson Conrad, 1882-1886
  4. Lunsford Lindsay Lomax, 1886-1891
  5. John McLaren McBryde, 1891-1907
  6. Paul Brandon Barringer, 1907-1913
  7. Joseph Dupuy Eggleston, 1913-1919
  8. Julian Ashby Burruss, 1919-1945
  9. John Redd Hutcheson, 1945-1947
  10. Walter Stephenson Newman, 1947-1962 (acting president, May-August 1947)
  11. Thomas Marshall Hahn, Jr., 1962-1974
  12. William Edward Lavery, 1975-1987
  13. James Douglas McComas, 1988-1994
  14. Paul Ernest Torgersen, 1994-2000 (interim president, 1987-1988)
  15. Charles William Steger, 2000-2014
  16. Timothy D. Sands, 2014-present

Other individuals have served temporarily as president and are not counted toward the official total:

General Resources

Collections

The early records of the university were destroyed in a fire in 1905, so the University Archives has very few records related to the first presidents prior to John M. McBryde.

The records of the President are restricted for 30 years. Presidential records from James D. McComas onwards are held by Records Management, and permission to access the material must be obtained from the Office of the President.

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 Presidents are identified as RG 2/x.

Publications

Online Resources and Exhibits

1st president, Charles Landon Carter Minor, 1872-1879

The early records of the university were destroyed in a fire in 1905, so the University Archives has very few records related to C. L. C. Minor or the other presidents prior to John M. McBryde. 

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

2nd president, John Lee Buchanan, March 1-June 12, 1880, 1881-1882

The early records of the university were destroyed in a fire in 1905, so the University Archives has very few records related to John L. Buchanan or the other presidents prior to John M. McBryde. 

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

3rd president, Thomas Nelson Conrad, 1882-1886

The early records of the university were destroyed in a fire in 1905, so the University Archives has very few records related to Thomas N. Conrad or the other presidents prior to John M. McBryde.

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

4th president, Lunsford Lindsay Lomax, 1886-1891

The early records of the university were destroyed in a fire in 1905, so the University Archives has very few records related to L. L. Lomax or the other presidents prior to John M. McBryde.

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

5th president, John McLaren McBryde, 1891-1907

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

6th president, Paul Brandon Barringer, 1907-1913

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

7th president, Joseph Dupuy Eggleston, 1913-1919

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

8th president, Julian Ashby Burruss, 1919-1945

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

9th president, John Redd Hutcheson, 1945-1947

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

10th president, Walter Stephenson Newman, 1947-1962 (acting president, May-August 1947)

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

11th president, T. Marshall Hahn, Jr., 1962-1974

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

Online Resources and Exhibits

12th president, William Edward Lavery, 1975-1987

SCUA also has policy memos from Lavery's presidency, which are unprocessed. Please contact SCUA for more information.

See the General Resources section at the top of this page.

13th president, James Douglas McComas, 1988-1994

The records of the President are restricted for 30 years. Presidential records from James D. McComas are held by Records Management, and permission to access the material must be obtained from the Office of the President.

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

14th president, Paul Ernest Torgersen, 1994-2000 (interim president, 1987-1988)

The records of the President are restricted for 30 years. Presidential records from Paul Torgersen are held by Records Management, and permission to access the material must be obtained from the Office of the President.

SCUA has policy memos from Torgersen's interim presidency, which are unprocessed. Please contact SCUA for more information.

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

15th president, Charles William Steger, 2000-2014

The records of the President are restricted for 30 years. Presidential records from Charles Steger are held by Records Management, and permission to access the material must be obtained from the Office of the President.

Steger was president at the time of the April 16th shootings. For materials related to the tragedy, please see the We Remember : April 16th, 2007 page on this guide. SCUA also has a collection of emails with Steger related to April 16th, which are unprocessed. Please contact SCUA for more information.

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

16th president, Timothy D. Sands, 2014-present

The records of the President are restricted for 30 years. Presidential records from Tim Sands, which are considered active, are held by Records Management, and permission to access the material must be obtained from the Office of the President.

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

Scott Shipp, Aug. 12-25, 1880

Scott Shipp was appointed president in August 1880, but spent only 2 weeks in the position before resigning. The university does not count him in its official list of presidents due to the shortness of his term. 

The early records of the university were destroyed in a fire in 1905, so the University Archives and University Libraries has very few records related to Shipp or the other presidents prior to John M. McBryde. However, Shipp spent most of his career at the Virginia Military institute (VMI), serving as its superintendent from 1890 to 1907, and resources from VMI related to Shipp are included below.

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

John Hart, 1880-1881

John Hart was a professor at Virginia Tech. He was appointed acting president of the university from 1880-1881, but he did not want the position.

The early records of the university were destroyed in a fire in 1905, so the University Archives and University Libraries has very few records related to Hart or the other presidents prior to John M. McBryde.

See also the General Resources section at the top of this page.

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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.