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  • Jolene Ghosh ('25)

Virginia Tech’s 150th Anniversary

150 years sign at D2 | Picture by Jolene Ghosh

Sesquicentennial Celebration

Virginia Tech was founded on June 20th of 1872. In a monumental achievement for Virginia Tech, July of 2021 marked the beginning of the university’s 150th anniversary which will be celebrated until December of 2022. The celebration began with Virginia Tech announcing the 150th anniversary along with their logo and will end at this year’s fall commencement ceremony. Hitting the 150th year since being founded has led Virginia Tech to reach for new goals and ensure that students have the resources that they need to be successful. The university is continuously looking to improve upon its systems for education, building communities, and providing students with opportunities for growth. There have been events around campus to celebrate the anniversary such as reaching larger community service goals, selling 12oz drip coffee for $1.50 on Thursdays during April of 2022, and having a celebration at D2 with dishes by an executive chef.

Virginia Tech Dining Services has special events throughout the year such as their International Cafe Hours, chocolate milk events at D2, Oktoberfest, Thanksgiving meals, all-day breakfast events, and many others. Their international Cafe Hours showcase international cuisines. In order to ensure the authenticity of the dishes, they partner with Cranwell International Center and various cultural organizations on campus. For the fall of 2022 semester, there will be International Cafe Hours featuring Pakistan, African, and Afghan cultural cuisine.

Lane Stadium | Picture by Jolene Ghosh

To further celebrate the 150th celebration, Virginia Tech hung banners on lamp posts, Burruss Hall, and around campus. Various organizations and University groups at Virginia Tech also had their own events to celebrate. Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and Virginia Cooperative Extension added a few of their favorite parts of history to their website for students, alumni, and others to reminisce upon. They included pictures to show their research on horses, healthy food, STEM, potato farming techniques, livestock farming, and others. Virginia Tech Liberal Arts also chose to make new history by having their Humanities week in February. The event took place from February 7th to 11th. It included events such as sessions on disability culture, celebrating poetry with Nikki Giovanni, an ethics bowl, and other events. The location of the events changed based on the day and some were available to attend in person and virtually. A highlight of the event was the keynote speaker, Kwame Anthony Appiah. He serves as a professor at New York University and has written for a column in the New York Times. In addition, The Alumni Relations at Virginia Tech had a celebration in December of 2021 in Washington DC at the City Winery. Part of their registration fee for the event went towards supporting the Innovation Campus in Alexandria, Virginia.

Virginia Tech Historic Markers

Recently, Virginia Tech added historical markers to celebrate the university’s history. There are seven markers in total which are located at Henderson Lawn, Moss Arts Center, Washington Street, Eggleston Quad, West Campus Drive, Solitude, and the Library Plaza. The topics of the markers include The Early Years; Campus over Time, People and Place; Land-Grant College, Black History; Black Community, Student Diversity, Native Stewardship; The Monacan Peoples, Enslaved Peoples and the Prestons; From Plantation to College Campus, and Women’s History; Women on Campus.

Virginia Tech’s 150th anniversary banner | Picture by Jolene Ghos

The Black History marker contained events from the year 1953 to 2020. It starts off by mentioning the first Black student at Virginia Tech, Linwood Peddrew III. He attended the university as an electrical engineering major. In 1966, the first Black women enrolled in Virginia Tech and the next year, the college had its first Black college-level athlete. The marker highlights significant events regarding Black history at Virginia Tech that shaped the university. By adding these markers to campus, it allows students, parents, alumni, and many others to learn more about significant figures at Virginia Tech and their stories. In the Black Community marker, it shared the story of how the first Black students were able to attend Virginia Tech, due to the Supreme Court allowing them to do so, along with the requirements to attend the university. It also goes on to share how some of the Black staff members supported the students and cheered them on in their endeavor to study at Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech Diversity Mural” by Rhakim Smith. The mural is on the Black Community historical marker | Picture by Jolene Ghosh

None of these timelines and stories could have been shared through markers without the Council on Virginia Tech History and the Historic Markers Committee who have worked tirelessly to ensure that Virginia Tech’s history is available to everyone. The organization is led by Jack Rosenberger, who is the Chair of the Committee, and the members include Denny Cochrane, Clara Cox, Bob Leonard, Meghan Marsh, Paul Quigley, Emily Satterwhite, and Peter Wallenstein. With each of their areas of expertise, they were able to create and find locations for the markers to be readily available to see on campus.

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