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Academic Colleges and Schools

In 1903-04 the college established its first major administrative instructional divisions and appointed deans for the four academic departments: Academic, Scientific, Engineering, and Agriculture. Ellison A. Smyth Jr. became the first dean of the faculty, a post somewhat similar to today’s provost, in June 1902.

During the 1907-08 session, the word “school” appeared in the catalog for the first time as an organizational unit of instruction, but the word did not have the same meaning as it did later. At that earlier time, the college reported a School of Scientific Agriculture and a School of Agricultural Apprentices, but both were subordinate to the Department of Agriculture, which had its own dean. The first time that “school” was used in the same sense as “college” does today came during the 1920-21 session when the School of Agriculture and the School of Engineering were listed along with a third division, General Departments.

The word “college,” denoting administrative instructional units, came into general use on July 1, 1964, replacing the term “school.”

However, 10 schools—School of Forestry and Wildlife Resources, School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), School of the Arts (SOTA), Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering, School of Architecture + Design, School of Education, Myers-Lawson School of Construction, School of Visual Arts, School of Performing Arts and Cinema, and Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine—came into existence after that time, each, with the exception of the school of medicine, falling within the structure of one or more colleges. One became a college; one is a college except in name; eight others still exist as schools; and four of those eight are in the formative stages. Two of the schools, SPIA and SOTA, were created via a 1994 proposal that passed through the university governance system. When the proposal reached the board of visitors, the board tabled it pending review of the school concept in general. Following that review, the board approved the schools in spring 1996, and the schools commenced operation on July 1, 1996. The School of Biomedical Engineering was created through a partnership between Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University and received final approval from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and the University of North Carolina Board of Governors in 2003. The Myers-Lawson School of Construction resulted from significant gifts from alumni Ross Myers and John Lawson, who asked that the school be established. The School of Visual Arts and the School of Performing Arts and Cinema evolved from the School of the Arts, which no longer exists. The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine emerged from the concern of Virginia Tech and Carilion, who formed a partnership in 2007, that the region does not have enough medical doctors.

The School of Forestry and Wildlife Resources was established by the board of visitors in 1976 as an administrative unit within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The school had evolved through several stages. It began in 1959 as the Department of Forestry and Wildlife, which became a division of the College of Agriculture in 1969 (earlier forestry and wildlife had been a unit in the biology department). The division formed two departments in 1972: Forestry and Forest Products, and Fisheries and Wildlife. A third department, Wood Science and Forest Products, was organized in 1979. Throughout its existence, the school grew in size and prestige, with all three departments ranking in the top five in the nation in peer reviews by 1991. By then, the school had 350 undergraduate students (that number nearly doubled over the next two years), 140 graduate students, and 66 faculty members, rivaling a number of colleges in all but administrative structure. That changed in 1993, when the General Assembly created the College of Forestry and Wildlife Resources (later renamed the College of Natural Resources) from the school. Director: John F. Hosner (1976-93).

The School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) was created to facilitate the ordination of interdisciplinary instruction and research in the policy fields. It was directed to provide a focus for the policy sciences on campus and to help those departments become better known, more interdisciplinary in perspective, and more collaborative in their approach to curriculum and research. Its first major program was development of the Washington Semester Program for Virginia Tech undergraduates. Subsequently, SPIA has focused on both graduate instruction and the formation of several research institutes. The school began in 1996 as a loose collaboration of the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) and the Center for Public Administration and Policy (CPAP), both in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies (CAUS). It became a collaborative effort of CPAP; UAP; the Department of Geography, now in the College of Natural Resources; the Departments of International Studies, Political Science, and Science and Technology Studies, all in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences (CLAHS); and the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. In 2003 SPIA became an official administrative unit in CAUS, incorporating two previously existing departments in the college—UAP and CPAP—that have become programs within the school and a newly formed Government and International Affairs Program, formed by faculty from the CLAHS departments. Directors: Richard Rich (1996-97); James Bohland (1997-2003); John Randolph (2003-08); Gerry Kearns (2008-  ).

The School of the Arts, an administrative and programmatic unit within the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, traced its beginnings to art and art history programs in the College of Architecture and theatre and speech courses in the Department of English. A Southern Association of Colleges and Schools report in 1965 suggested establishing a separate Division of Fine Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences and recommended that the fine arts be strengthened and coordinated. In response, the university added music and theatre to the Department of English in 1967 but created a Fine Arts Program the following year that was comprised of the two disciplines. In 1970 the university created the Department of Performing Arts and Communications from the Fine Arts Program and added communications. Communications, music, and theatre arts became separate departments in 1980, but the latter two disciplines were merged again in 1983 to form the Division of Performing Arts, which continued until 1996, when the board of visitors approved the School of the Arts. SOTA drew on the talents and expertise of faculty, staff, and students in the Departments of Art and Art History, Music, and Theatre Arts. It promoted a wide range of curricular offerings in the visual and performing arts through various undergraduate and graduate degree programs and encouraged students to seek out and develop interdisciplinary pursuits among the visual and performing arts disciplines. In 2008 the school evolved into the School of Visual Arts and the School of Performing Arts and Cinema, and SOTA ceased to function as a separate entity. Directors: P. A. Distler (1996-2004), John Husser and Patricia Raun (co-interim, 2004-07), Patricia Raun (interim, 2007-08, 2008).

The university collaborated with Wake Forest University in 2001 to establish the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Science to provide a framework for the generation and dissemination of knowledge through research and education for the improvement of human and animal health through cooperative advancements in engineering, science and medicine. The school received final approval from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and the University of North Carolina Board of Governors in 2003. Formed and administered by Tech’s College of Engineering and Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and Wake Forest’s School of Medicine, the school integrates engineering, life sciences, and medicine so that engineering principals can be applied to human medicine. The school offers collaborative research and graduate educational opportunities for faculty and students on both campuses, allowing students to earn M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in biomedical engineering, a joint M.D./Ph.D., and a joint DVM/Ph.D. Classes are offered at both campuses. Directors: Elaine P. Scott (2002-05); J.Wally Grant (2005-07). Department head: J. Wally Grant (2007-09); Stefan Duma (2009-  ).

The School of Education, accredited by the National Council of Accreditation for Teacher Education, was formed during the university’s 2002 restructuring and became effective July 1, 2003. It consists of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Department of Teaching and Learning, one of Virginia’s Training & Technical Assistance Centers, Virginia VIEW (Vital Information for Education and Work), Center for Instructional Technology Solutions for Industry and Education, and Center for Assessment and Evaluation in Educational Practice and includes 23 licensure programs in a range of degrees. Director: Susan G. Magliaro (2004- ).

In 2003 the College of Architecture and Urban Studies announced the formation of the School of Architecture + Design, which includes architecture, industrial design, and interior design programs. The school was established to strengthen the presence of the professional and design disciplines, foster collaborative activities in design research and outreach, and to enhance opportunities for sponsored research. Directors: Frank Weiner (interim, 2003-04); Scott Poole (2004-  ).

The Myers-Lawson School of Construction was funded in 2005 and began operating in a temporary location during the 2006-07 academic year. It moved into the just-completed Bishop-Favrao Hall in early 2008. Goals of the school, comprised of the Department of Building Construction in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the Vecellio Construction Engineering and Management Program in the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering, are to establish new standards for construction education, research, and outreach, focusing on values-based leadership in the construction industry. Divisions of the school include a center for construction safety, center for leadership, and an across immersion program in the world of sustainability and integrated facility. Director: Yvan J. Beliveau (2005-  ).

The School of Visual Arts, created from the Department of Art and Art History in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, and the School of Performing Arts and Cinema, formed by the Departments of Music, Theatre Arts, and the cinema focus in Communication, were established in 2008, replacing the School of the Arts.

The School of Visual Arts is essentially a department in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and offers three undergraduate degree programs. Director: Truman Capone (2008-  ).

The mission of the School of Performing Arts and Cinema is to “elevate awareness and expand the impact of the shared creative experience through discovery, learning, and engagement. It provides curricular offerings in performing arts and cinema through undergraduate and graduate degree programs in music, theatre arts, and communication and a one-hour course required as part of the core curriculum. Director: Patricia Raun (2008-  ).

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, created by a partnership between Virginia Tech and Carilion, is a private medical school located in downtown Roanoke, Va., adjacent to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. The school, which admitted its inaugural class in fall 2010, focuses on training physicians who want to make research a part of their medical career. Founding dean: Dr. Cynda Ann Johnson (2008-  ).

Colleges—Major changes in the academic administrative structure since the first deans were appointed and changes in college names are listed below:

  • 1903-07: Four departments: Academic, Scientific, Engineering, Agriculture
  • 1907-12: Three departments: Scientific, Engineering, Agriculture
  • 1912-13: Two departments: Scientific, Agriculture
  • 1913-15: Three departments: Applied Sciences, Agriculture, Engineering.
  • 1915-20: Four departments: Applied Sciences, Agriculture, Engineering, Academic
  • 1920-24: Three schools: Agriculture, Engineering, General Departments
  • 1924-27: Four schools: Agriculture, Engineering, General Departments, Business Administration
  • 1927-50: Three schools: Agriculture, Engineering, The College.
  • 1950-55: Three schools: Agriculture, Engineering, Applied Science and Business Administration
  • 1955-60: Three schools: Agriculture, Engineering and Architecture, Applied Science and Business Administration
  • 1960-61: Four schools: Agriculture, Engineering and Architecture, Applied Science and Business Administration, Home Economics
  • 1961-63: Five schools: Agriculture, Engineering and Architecture, Home Economics, Business, Science and General Studies
  • 1963: Five schools: Agriculture, Engineering and Architecture, Home Economics, Business, Arts and Sciences
  • 1964 (January 1): Six schools: Agriculture, Architecture, Engineering, Home Economics, Business, Arts and Sciences
  • 1964 (July 1): Terminology changed from “schools” to “colleges”
  • 1971 (July): Seven colleges: Agriculture, Architecture, Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Engineering, Home Economics; (August 16): Name change: Agriculture to Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • 1975 (May 17): Name change: Architecture to Architecture and Urban Studies
  • 1978:  Eight colleges: Agriculture, Architecture and Urban Studies, Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Engineering, Home Economics, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (graduate)
  • 1982:  Name change: Home Economics to Human Resources
  • 1986:  Name change: Business to Pamplin College of Business
  • 1993 (July 1): Nine colleges: Agriculture and Life Sciences, Architecture and Urban
  • Studies, Arts and Sciences, Education, Engineering, Human Resources, Forestry and Wildlife Resources, Pamplin Business, Veterinary Medicine
  • 1996 (July 1): Eight colleges: Agriculture and Life Sciences, Architecture and Urban Studies, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Human Resources and Education, Forestry and Wildlife Resources, Pamplin Business, Veterinary Medicine
  • 1999 (May 24): Name change: Forestry and Wildlife Resources to Natural Resources
  • 2003 (July 1): Arts and Sciences divided; liberal arts departments merged with Human Resources and Education; college renamed Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Science departments form a separate college: Science. Eight colleges: Agriculture and Life Sciences, Architecture and Urban Studies, Engineering, Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Natural Resources, Pamplin Business, Science, Veterinary Medicine
  • 2010: Name change: Natural Resources to Natural Resources and Environment