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Introduction

This college has never published a president's report. It is customary for even smaller institutions than this to publish such reports annually. This institution is the property of the people of the state, their money is being used for its support, and they are entitled to full information concerning its operation. The theory that the best policy is to give only such information as is demanded and must be given about a public institution or agency, is untenable. Publicity is sure to be advantageous in the long run, even though at times it may appear that it is unwise to make certain facts known. Every institution owes it to the public to make known in an intelligible manner particularly its financial status; and to keep the public informed produces a reaction on the institution, which, if the work that it is doing be worthy, should be favorable and strengthening. Such an institution as this has no reason for existence save its service to the people who maintain it, and it can never hope to receive better support unless it demonstrates clearly to the people that the service which it is rendering and which it is possible for it to render justifies better support.

Numerous requests come to the college each year for copies of the president's report. These requests are usually from organizations and individuals who are genuinely interested in the institution; and in some cases they are organizations upon which we are largely dependent for our standing in the professional and technical world, and individuals who are in position to do the institution much good in professional, financial, or other ways.

From the historical standpoint alone, it seems that such a publication is justified. There should be a permanent and accessible record of the principal events in the life of an institution, and particularly a record of important and far-reaching policies adopted and the reasons underlying such action.

From our own experience it has been learned that a college executive is greatly handicapped without ready access to a record of important events in the development of an institution prior to his own administration, and reliable information as to the policies of his predecessors, their recommendations and their reports to the controlling board. In the history of this college, up to the beginning of the present administration, six years may be taken as the average length of term of the presidents that have served it. Only two of the nine former presidents were in office more than six years, one of them for less than seven years, and the other for the remarkable period of sixteen years. Surely it should be considered an important duty of a president to pass on to his successors a record of his administration, and especially information concerning policies affecting the future. There may be little encouragement and less actual constructive help, but there must be at least some value as a warning of what to avoid.

To do the greatest good, reports concerning the operation of a college should be published promptly after the close of each year. There are reasons why this has not been done at this institution, but they are not convincing. The present administration is so thoroughly convinced that such information should be given to the public, that it is herein venturing the unusual undertaking of publishing all at one time the reports of the president for six years, and publishing them a year and a half after the close of the period covered. Justification for this is sought in the fact that during this period many changes were made in the policies of the institution, and those interested in its welfare have a right to know the reasons underlying these changes. It is hoped that depreciation because of tardiness in supplying this information is offset by the fact that these changes in some instances were far-reaching in effect, and they form the basis for organization, operation, and development for many years to come. Indeed, the practical working out of some of them may be said to be just begun.


In the first nineteen years of its existence, the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College had no less than seven presidential administrations. One of these was about seven years in length, and two were of five years, thus leaving two years for the other four. One of these four was for one day only. Soon after its organization, the faculty was divided into two factions, bitterly arrayed against each other as to policy, discipline, and management of the institution. Every election of a new Governor brought a reorganization of the board, and every new board thought its chief function was to turn out all the officials and teachers and replace them with men of their own choosing. Before it was out of its swaddling-bands, this young institution became the football of politicians. Under such conditions development was most difficult; and at the end of the period the situation was considerably worse than in the earlier years.*

*For a brief history of the college from its establishment to the beginning of the present administration (1919) see Bulletin of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Vol. XV, No.4, May, 1922.

At this time a new board came into control, and as strange as it may seem under the circumstances, this board did two very remarkable things - first, it made a rare choice of a president; and, second, it gave to the new president a very free hand in selecting his own associates and in formulating his own policies. No board ever acted more wisely. The result was sixteen years of continuous progress under the master hand of an outstanding leader. The Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College had passed through its dark ages to a renaissance, from which it emerged as a new institution, in name as well as in fact -- the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

Following this sixteen-year administration of President John M. McBryde came two administrations of six years each. During the first of these, under the direction of President Paul B. Barringer, the entrance requirements were raised, agriculture was emphasized, sanitary conditions were improved, and the institution was maintained free of debt, except for the bond issues of 1896 and 1900.

Before the beginning of the next six-year administration, misunderstandings within and without the institution had developed a state of unrest and uncertainty which reduced efficiency of operation and threatened disruption. Into this situation came President Joseph D. Eggleston, with unusual tact and many fine qualities of mind and of heart, and in time harmony and confidence were restored. While this restoration, because of the circumstances involved, was perhaps the outstanding accomplishment of this administration, there were also physical improvements, the first general increase in faculty salaries for twenty years, the establishment of a department of agricultural education, and other advances. Into this administration fell the period of the world war, when the institution did its part nobly, at no small cost to its organization and operation, and gained for itself the honor of being rated as a "distinguished college."

The present administration, with which this report has to do, began immediately after the world war. The problems of the war period had been very great, and those of the early post-war period were also perplexing and difficult of solution under the conditions existing at this institution. With the return of troops from abroad, hundreds of young men returned to college; and with the lessons taught by the war fresh in the minds of the people, hundreds of others joined them. Never had college education received such an impetus. It was as if Erasmus and Luther had come forth from their sixteenth century tombs.

The unusual influx of students to this college as to other institutions presented a grave problem of physical plant facilities and of adequate teaching force. The spirit of unrest engendered by the war intensified this problem. It was quite evident that we were facing a new type of student, and that the spirit of youth had been materially changed by the experiences of the war period. New attitudes, new needs, new demands, appeared on every hand. A revision of programs of instruction, of organization of student life, and of physical accommodations, seemed imperative. Naturally financial difficulties were involved.

A printed appeal addressed to the General Assembly of Virginia of 1918, signed by the Rector of the Board and the President of the College, had stated:

"Buildings are steadily deteriorating and some have gotten into bad shape for lack of repairs. The demand for teachers of the specialized training required in many of the technical departments of agriculture and applied engineering is so great and the competition between the technical institutions is so sharp that our institution will disintegrate if substantial relief is not given. If conditions continue it will be impossible even to hold the present faculty together. . . . This is a disheartening condition, but true. It can be stated without exaggeration that the financial condition of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, both as to annuity and as to buildings and equipment, is desperate. Unless the increase in annuity asked is given substantially in its entirety, disintegration and collapse are imminent, and there can be no continued growth unless provision is made for needed buildings and equipment."

But the needed relief was not secured, and the new administration, beginning the following year, was faced with woefully inadequate financial resources.


At the beginning of every undertaking of importance it is essential that clearly defined objectives be set up. In starting a new administration of an educational institution this seems just as essential as for any other undertaking. Such objectives are of two kinds, namely, ultimate objectives and proximate objectives. The latter are perhaps more urgent and more readily comprehended, but the former are more important, hence the latter should be made to fit into the former.

In the case of an old institution, after objectives are determined, stock must be taken to ascertain how nearly the institution is already meeting the desired objectives and how far existing facilities may be made to meet them. After taking stock it is possible to determine what the needs are and the relative urgency of the same. This involves a study of organization and a plan of reorganization. Financial needs are the last to be determined, since they must be based upon the job to be done and the workers, the tools and materials necessary to do the required work. This reverses the procedure commonly found in past years, less commonly found in this day of budget systems -- to get the largest possible appropriations and then decide how to spend same. Instead of this it sets the task, evolves working plans, and estimates the cost. If the people supporting the institution do not wish the job done, that ends it. If they want the job done in the manner proposed, then obviously they must supply the means.

At the beginning of the present administration of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute a survey was made by the president, after which he outlined the following objectives. The list of proximate objectives is divided into groups to correspond with the six ultimate objectives.

Ultimate Objectives

  1. To do what Virginia needs to have done by this particular institution.
  2. To maintain highest standards in all endeavors.
  3. To provide a staff organization adequate to carryon the work efficiently.
  4. To provide a physical plant adequate for the work to be done.
  5. To so conduct the institution as to secure the desired efficiency with the greatest economy.
  6. To provide the funds necessary for doing the job that is to be done.

Proximate Objectives

Group I:

  1. To revise the curricula to meet the needs of Virginia and the changed conditions of the post-war period.
  2. To add new departments of instruction justified by present demands.
  3. To develop summer activities for all-year service.
  4. To provide for 1,000 students in the regular session within six years.
  5. To expand the research of the agricultural experiment station to render greater service to the state's agricultural interests; and to establish a similar service for the manufacturing and industrial interests through an engineering experiment station.
  6. To expand the extension service of the extension division of agriculture and home economics; and to establish a similar service for the manufacturing and industrial interests, institutions, communities, and individuals, through an engineering extension division.
  7. To establish closer relations with other institutions, agencies, and organizations, working for the agricultural, industrial, commercial, educational, and other interests of Virginia.

Group II:

  1. To raise the academic standards of the college through higher entrance requirements, seeking quality rather than numbers.
  2. To improve the quality of the work done by students, providing incentives to scholarship and penalties for delinquencies.
  3. To maintain the military phases of the institution as an efficient and valuable department, without being the predominant influence.
  4. To maintain high standards in athletics, and develop physical education as a coordinate department of instruction .
  5. To secure proper recognition through accrediting agencies, membership in organizations, and wholesome publicity.

Group III:

  1. To reorganize the faculty to meet the needs of the revised curricula.
  2. To increase the staff to meet present demands.
  3. To secure more adequate remuneration for members of the staff.
  4. To strengthen the staff, by appointing the best qualified members obtainable, by enabling members to attend professional meetings within their respective fields, and by encouraging them to pursue graduate study for further preparation.

Group IV:

  1. To rehabilitate the badly run-down physical plant, and then keep it in good condition, as a primary need.
  2. To remodel certain old buildings to provide additional space and improve efficiency of use.
  3. To erect additional structures to meet present demands.
  4. To purchase land leased with option, and increase the farm acreage .to meet existing needs.
  5. To improve the campus under the direction of a competent landscape designer. .
  6. To provide much additional equipment now needed for laboratories and utilities.

Group V:

  1. To reorganize the administrative and business staffs and to clearly define their duties.
  2. To correlate all divisions and departments to develop an institutional consciousness in place of a departmental one.
  3. To centralize responsibility in business management, through approved modern methods, a requisition system, and budget control.
  4. To utilize the special abilities of members of the faculty in the development and operation of the physical plant and in various other ways.
  5. To operate within the resources, and to liquidate previously contracted debts.
  6. To operate certain semi-commercial departments on at least a self-supporting basis.

Group VI:

  1. To administer the business of the institution economically without reducing efficiency, and to save out of departmental earnings for capital outlays as far as practicable.
  2. To formulate budgets based on existing needs, with due regard for future development to meet increased demands.
  3. To secure more adequate financial support from the state.

The reports for the six years, including the special reports on instruction and on organization and administration, indicate to what extent the foregoing objectives were reached during the period covered by the reports. They also indicate the method used, and plans for further effort in the years to follow. It is quite evident that much remains to be done to attain the ultimate objectives. Many of the proximate objectives have been attained. The ultimate aims, however, present an ever-solving, but never solved problem.


Grateful acknowledgment is made of the most valuable help rendered by Governor Westmoreland Davis, inaugurator of the state budget system, which laid the foundation for the productive reorganization of the business management of the institution, an ardent believer in agricultural and industrial education, for which he endeavored to provide far more generously than ever before; of the encouragement, confidence, recognition, and other valuable assistance rendered so heartily by Governor E. Lee Trinkle, who consistently and eloquently plead for liberal support of public education, and who paved the way for a greater service to Virginia through this institution; of the support of the members of the Board of Visitors, who have given freely of their time to the consideration of institutional policies and organization; and of the sympathetic and hearty cooperation of the various staffs of administration, instruction, research, and extension, of this institution, whose advice and help have been invaluable.

Julian A. Burruss, President.
Blacksburg, Virginia, February 5, 1927.


Attention is directed to the Special Report On Instruction, pages 43-78, and the Special Report On Organization And Administration, pages 78-127, since these represent a survey of the institution made by the president in the first year of his administration, and form the basis for plans and recommendations which follow.


The reports of the Director of the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Reports of the Director of the Agricultural Extension Division, are published separately.


1919-1929 Reports

Early President's Reports were published in bulletins, with multiple reports in each bulletin. Note that the original spelling of many words (enrolment, remodelling, etc.) has been retained.

1930-1931 Report

Introduction

General Report of the President

Reports of

The Dean of the College

The Dean of Agriculture

The Dean of Engineering

The Chairman of the Summer Quarter

The Committee on Graduate Programs and Degrees

The Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station

The Director of the Engineering Experiment Station

The Director of the Agricultural Extension Division

The Director of the Engineering Extension Division

The Librarian

The Adviser to Women Students

The Health Officer

The Secretary of the Young Men’s Christian Association

Statistical Tables

Statistics of Enrolment and Graduation

Summary of Treasurer’s Reports

1929-1930 Report

Introduction

General Report of the President

Reports of

The Dean of the College

The Dean of Agriculture

The Dean of Engineering

The Chairman of the Summer Quarter

The Committee on Graduate Programs and Degrees

The Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station

The Director of the Engineering Experiment Station

The Director of the Agricultural Extension Division

The Director of the Engineering Extension Division

The Librarian

The Adviser to Women Students

The Health Officer

The Secretary of the Young Men’s Christian Association

Statistical Tables

Statistics of Enrolment and Graduation

Summary of Treasurer’s Reports

1927-1928, 1928-1929 Reports

Introduction

1927-1928 -- General Report

1928-1929 -- General Report

Appendix

Enrolment Statistics

Summary of Treasurer's Reports

1925-26, 1926-27 Reports

1925-1927 Introduction

1925-1926 -- General Report

1926-1927 -- General Report

Appendix

Appointments, Tenure, and Salaries

Vacations, Office Hours, Records, etc.

Enrolment Statistics

Summary of Treasurer's Reports

1919-1925 Reports

Index

Introduction

1919-1920 Report

Preliminary Statement

First General Report

Second General Report

Special Report on Instruction

Special Report on Organization

1920-1921—General Report For The Year

1921-1922—General Report For The Year

1922-1923—General Report For The Year

1923-1924—General Report For The Year

1924-1925—General Report For The Year

Enrolment Statistics

Summary of Treasurer's Reports