Born Dec. 3, 1835, in Hanover County. Received M.A. from University of Virginia (UVa), 1858, and later received an L.L.D. After graduating from UVa, taught in Hanover County for three years. Served as combat and staff officer for Confederacy. Was president of Maryland Agricultural College for one year after Civil War. Ran private school in Lynchburg. Became professor of Latin and director of the preparatory school, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, the post from which he was selected as first president of Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College. Was 36 years old on assuming presidency. Was removed from presidency in 1879. Bought Shenandoah Valley Academy at Winchester. Later taught at St. Paul’s in Baltimore, Maryland, and Episcopal High in Alexandria. Died July 13, 1903, in Albemarle County, Virginia, at age 67.
Second president, 1880-1881.
Born June 19, 1831, in Rich Valley, Smyth County, Virginia. Received an A.B. in 1856 and an M.A. in 1860, both from Emory and Henry College. Latin chair in 1879 at Vanderbilt University and then president of Emory and Henry College before becoming VAMC president at age 48. After being removed from VAMC presidency for the second time in 1881, began teaching at Martha Washington College in Abingdon, Virginia, later becoming president there. In 1884 served on a state committee that established the State Normal Female School in Farmville (now Longwood College). Served as state superintendent of public instruction 1885‑89 (hence was ex officio member of VAMC Board of Visitors). Began teaching at Randolph-Macon College in 1889, later becoming president. Resigned the presidency there in 1894 to assume presidency of University of Arkansas, where he remained until retiring in 1902. Died Jan. 19, 1922, in Rich Valley, Virginia, at age 90.
Third president, 1882-86.
Born Aug. 1, 1837, at Fairfax Courthouse, Virginia. Received A.B.in 1857, A.M. in 1860, and M.Sc. in 1890, all from Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. After graduation, taught at Georgetown (D.C.) Academy until joining Third Virginia Cavalry as chaplain. Later became Confederate scout (spy), performing valuable and daring service for the Confederacy. After Civil War, taught at Upperville (Virginia) Academy and Rockville (Maryland) Academy before arriving in Blacksburg in 1871 to serve as president, or principal, of Preston and Olin Institute. Took active part in getting VAMC located at Blacksburg. Served as editor of The Montgomery Messenger. Served as reading clerk in House of Delegates. Became professor of English at VAMC in 1878, from which post he was elected president in 1882 at age 45. Was removed from presidency in 1886 and became professor of agriculture and chairman of the faculty at the Maryland Agricultural College. Died Jan. 5, 1905, in Washington, D.C., at age 67.
Fourth president, 1886-91.
Born Nov. 4, 1835, in Newport, Rhode Island. Received B.S. from U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, in 1856. Was fellow officer with J. E. B. Stuart in the West until both resigned their commissions in 1861 to serve with the Confederacy. Became Confederate major general. Farmed near Warrenton after the Civil War until appointment as VAMC president at age 50. After being removed from office, worked in Washington, D.C., on compilation of official records of both Confederate and Union armies. Was member of Gettysburg Battlefield Commission. Died May 28, 1913, in Washington, D.C., at age 77.
Fifth president, 1891-1907.
Born Jan. 1, 1841, in Abbeville, South Carolina, of Scotch immigrant parents. Entered sophomore class at South Carolina College in 1858 at the age of 17. From there, entered University of Virginia, where he was a student at the outbreak of Civil War. In Jan. 1861 returned to Abbeville and joined a Confederate volunteer company. Volunteered for service in Virginia. Served in cavalry; contracted typhus. Upon recovery entered Confederate States’ Treasury Department in Richmond. Two months later was assigned to War Tax Office, where he was later made a division chief. At close of war, farmed in Buckingham County, Virginia, until 1867, when he moved to 1,000-acre farm near Charlottesville and took an active part in organizing a Farmers’ Club. Published many scientific articles, leading to an appointment as professor of agriculture and botany at the University of Tennessee. Was offered a chair at the reorganized South Carolina College. Two days after his arrival at South Carolina, was elected chairman of the faculty. Elected president of South Carolina College in May 1883. Declined offers to direct Texas Experiment Station in 1886 and to become president of the University of Tennessee in 1887. Succeeded in raising standards at South Carolina, which became a university in 1887. During state political disturbances in 1891, agricultural work was taken away from South Carolina and transferred to Clemson, and the university reverted to a college. McBryde, greatly disturbed, decided to accept an offer in 1891 to become president of VAMC at age 50. Turned down later offers to become assistant secretary of agriculture under President Cleveland, to become president of the University of Virginia, and to become president of Sweet Briar Institute. Retired in Blacksburg in 1907 and devoted time to research and writing botanical articles. In 1907 named first president emeritus of VPI and received VPI’s first honorary degree, a doctor of science. Died at age 82 on March 20, 1923, while visiting his son in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Sixth president, 1907-13.
Born Feb. 13, 1857, in Concord, North Carolina, son of Confederate Gen. Rufus Barringer and grandson of Gen. Paul B. Barringer, leader in War of 1812. Early education at Bingham School near Asheville, North Carolina, and at Kenmore University School, Amherst Courthouse, Virginia. Enrolled at University of Virginia in 1875, receiving M.D. degree in 1877. Also received M.D. from the University of the City of New York in 1877. Practiced medicine at Dallas, North Carolina, for three years before going to Europe to study under medical specialists there. On return from Europe, settled on a farm near Charlotte, North Carolina, practicing medicine and farming. Married Nannie Hannah of Charlotte County, Virginia, in 1882; had 10 children. Established and headed medical preparatory school at Davidson College, 1884-89. Accepted chair of physiology at University of Virginia in 1889; was chairman of the faculty (then equivalent to president), 1895-1903, and professor of therapeutics and pharmacology, 1903-1907. Received honorary LL.D. from Davidson College in 1900 and University of South Carolina in 1904. Accepted presidency of VPI in 1907 at age 50. Resigned presidency in 1913 and returned to Charlottesville, where he practiced medicine except for a few years in military service during World War I. Died Jan. 9, 1941, in Charlottesville at age 83.
Seventh president, 1913-19.
Born Nov. 13, 1867, in Prince Edward County, Virginia. Attended Prince Edward Academy and Hampden-Sydney College, where he received the A.B. in 1886 and later the A.M. degree. Married Julia Johnson of Farmville; had one son and one daughter. Taught in public schools in Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina from 1886-89. Taught in Asheville, North Carolina, high school, 1891-93, and was superintendent of public schools there from 1893-1900. Was appointed editor and secretary of Bureau of Information and Publicity of the Southern Education Board at the University of Tennessee in 1902. Was superintendent of Prince Edward County public schools from 1903-05 and Virginia state superintendent of public instruction from 1906-13. Was chief of the Division of Rural Education, U.S. Bureau of Education, Jan. 1-July 1, 1913, when he became VPI president at age 45. Resigned presidency in 1919 to become president of Hampden-Sydney. Died March 13, 1953, in Prince Edward County at age 85.
Eighth president, 1919-45.
Born Aug. 16, 1876, in Richmond, son of Woodson Cheadle and Cora Emmett McDowell Burruss. Entered VAMC in fall 1894 and received B.S. in civil engineering in 1898. As a student, was editor of 1898 Bugle, captain of Battery E, and active in other student organizations. Also received A.M. degree from Columbia in 1906 after studying at Richmond and Harvard. Obtained Ph.D. from University of Chicago in 1921. Received honorary LL.D. from Hampden-Sydney in 1937. Married Rachel Clevand Ebbert of Covington, Kentucky, in 1907; had one son and one daughter. First educational post was as an instructor at Normal College, Waleska, Georgia. Also instructed at Searcy (Arkansas) Female Institute and Speers-Langford Military Academy before returning to Richmond in 1901 as principal of the Leigh School. Became director of manual arts for Richmond public schools in 1904. Was elected first president of State Normal and Industrial School (now James Madison University) in 1908 and laid out grounds there. Was president there until 1919, when he was elected VPI president at age 43. Named president emeritus upon his retirement in 1945. Died Jan. 4, 1947, in Staunton at age 70.
Ninth president, 1945-47.
Born Jan. 13, 1886, near Charlotte Court House, Virginia. Received B.S. from VPI in 1909, honorary D.Sci. from Clemson in 1937, and honorary D.Agric. from North Carolina State College in 1947. Married Eleanor Parrott of Blacksburg in 1917; had two sons and one daughter. Attended field artillery officer training school during World War I. Was director of VPI Agricultural Extension Service from 1919-45, when he was made executive assistant to President Burruss and later acting president. Was elected VPI president on Aug. 14, 1945, at age 59. When illness forced his retirement as president in 1947, he became first VPI chancellor, a post in which he served until retiring the position in 1956. Was elected first president of VPI Educational Foundation Inc. in 1948. Served in that position until his death in Blacksburg on Jan.13, 1962, at age 76.
Tenth president, 1947-62.
Born July 20, 1895, in Woodstock Virginia, son of WaIter Hickman and Sallie Bird Stephenson Newman. Attended Shenandoah County schools. Received A.B. at Hampden-Sydney, 1917; M.S., VPI, 1919; Ph.D., Pennsylvania State, 1931; and honorary LL.D. from both Roaonke College, 1949, and Hampden-Sydney, 1959. Married Liz Otey Hoge of Blacksburg, June 23, 1920; had one son. Was vocational agriculture teacher in Windsor, Virginia, 1912-22; associate professor of vocational education at VPI 1922-25; state superintendent of vocational education, 1925-30 and 1931-42; assistant state superintendent of public instruction, 1942-46; state administrator of National Youth Administration, 1936-42; one of founders of Future Farmers of Virginia (later grew into Future Farmers of America) in 1926. Named VPI’s first vice-president in 1946. Elected president Sept. 1, 1947, at age 52. Retired June 30, 1962, and elected president emeritus and honorary member of the class of 1962. Elected president of National Bank of Blacksburg in 1967. Presented the Ruffner Medal in 1977. Lived in Blacksburg until his death on June 29, 1978, at age 82.
Eleventh president, 1962-1974.
Born Dec. 2, 1926, in Lexington, Kentucky. Attended Lexington public schools. Received B.S. in physics “with highest honors” from University of Kentucky in 1945 at age 18 and Ph.D. in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1950 at age 23. Married Margaret Louise Lee of Dinwiddie County, Virginia, on Dec. 27, 1948; had one son and two daughters. Was lecturer in physics at U.S. Naval Academy Preparatory School while serving in Navy. Was also physicist, Naval Ordnance Laboratory, 1946-47; teaching fellow, MIT, 1947-48; research assistant, MIT, 1948-50; associate professor of physics, University of Kentucky, 1950-52; professor, director of graduate study in physics, and director of nuclear accelerator laboratories at Kentucky, 1952‑54; professor and head of physics, VPI, 1954-59; dean of arts and sciences, Kansas State, 1959-62. Served as president, Southern Association of State Universities; member, Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women; chairman, Virginia Metropolitan Areas Study Commission. Named “Virginia’s Outstanding Citizen” in 1965 by Toastmaster’s International. Assumed presidency of VPI on July 1, 1962, at age 35, the youngest president in Virginia Tech history. Resigned in 1974 to become executive vice president of Georgia-Pacific Corporation. Named president emeritus of Virginia Tech in 1975; received honorary doctor of science degree from Tech in 1987; had new chemistry laboratory building on campus named for him in 1991. Retired from Georgia-Pacific, Dec. 31, 1994. Lived in Montgomery County, Virginia, until his death on May 29, 2016 at age 89.
Twelfth president, 1975-87.
Born Nov. 20, 1930, in Geneseo, New York. Received associate degree, State University of New York-Morrisville, 1950; bachelor's degree from Michigan State University, 1953; master's in public administration, George Washington University, 1959; doctorate in extension administration, University of Wisconsin, 1962; honorary doctorate, Xavier University (Philippines), 1985. Married Peggy Johnson of Pawnee City, Nebraska, on April 7, 1956; had four children. Taught and coached at Clarence Central High School in Clarence, New York, 1953-54. Served in U.S. Army, 1954-56. Joined federal Extension Service's Division of Management Operations in 1956; assistant to the administrator, 1964-66. Joined Virginia Tech staff in 1966 as director of administration for the Extension Division. Served as vice president for finance, 1968-73; executive vice president, 1973-75. Named president in fall 1974; assumed office Jan. 1, 1975; inaugurated Oct. 16, 1975. Received Brotherhood Award from National Conference of Christians and Jews, 1979. Appointed by Governor of Virginia to Commission on Virginia's Transportation in the 21st Century, 1986. Appointed by President Reagan as chair of Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, 1986. Appointed by U.S. Secretary of the Treasury to National Savings Bond Committee, where he chaired the Higher Education Industry Campaign, 1987. Resigned as president of Virginia Tech Oct. 16, 1987, effective Dec. 31, 1987. Appointed honorary chancellor and named Preston Professor of International Affairs, effective Jan. 1, 1988. Appointed president emeritus upon retirement, Aug. 1, 1991. Preston Professorship renamed William E. Lavery Professor of International Affairs, Aug. 19, 1991. Named honorary alumnus of Virginia Tech, 1992. Presented Ruffner Medal, 1993. Animal health research center named in his honor, 1995. Class of 1997 named class ring in his honor. Resided in Blacksburg until his death on Feb. 16, 2009, at age 78.
Thirteenth president, 1988-94.
Born Dec. 23, 1928, in Pritchard, West Virginia. Received bachelor’s degree at West Virginia University, 1951; master’s in 1960 and Ph. D. in education in 1962, both from Ohio State University. Married Adele Stoltz of Gouverneur, N. Y., on May 10, 1961; had two children. Worked as head of Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, New Mexico State University, 1966-67; dean, College of Education, Kansas State University, 1967-69; dean, College of Education, University of Tennessee, 1969-76. Served as president, Mississippi State University, 1976-85; president, University of Toledo, 1985-88. Named president of Virginia Tech, May 23, 1988, effective Sept. 1, 1988. Installed as president, Dec. 3, 1988. Mississippi State named new creative arts building in his honor, 1991. Named chairman of the board, National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, Nov. 1992. Appointed to Commission on Leadership Development of the American Council on Education, Jan. 1993. Announced resignation for health reasons Sept. 28, 1993, effective Jan. 1, 1994. Died Feb. 10, 1994, in Columbus, Ohio, at age 65. Ruffner Medal presented posthumously, Founders Day 1994. McComas Hall named in his memory and dedicated in 1998.
Fourteenth president, 1993-2000.
Born Oct. 13, 1931, in Staten Island, N.Y. Received B.S. in industrial engineering from LeHigh University in 1953, M.S. in industrial engineering from Ohio State University in 1956, and Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 1959. Married Dorothea Zuschlag from Staten Island on Sept. 11, 1954; had three children. Worked as instructor at Ohio State University, 1956-59; assistant and associate professor at Oklahoma State University, 1959-66. Professor and department head, Virginia Tech’s Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, Jan.1967-April 1970; dean, College of Engineering, 1970-90; John Grado Professor of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, 1978-89. Appointed to Governor of Virginia’s Task Force on Science and Technology, 1982-84. Interim university president, Jan.-Aug., 1988; John W. Hancock Jr. Chair of Engineering, 1989-present; president, Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, 1990-94; interim vice president for Development and University Relations, 1992-93; interim dean, College of Engineering, Aug.-Sept., 1993; acting university president, Oct.-Dec., 1993. Selected president Dec. 9, 1993, effective Jan. 1, 1994. Retired from the presidency on Jan. 6, 2000. Died on March 29, 2015 at age 83.
Fifteenth president, 2000-2014.
Born June 16, 1947, in Richmond, Va. Received a professional bachelor of architecture degree in 1970, master of architecture in 1971, and Ph.D. in environmental science and engineering in 1978, all from Virginia Tech. Married Janet Grey Baird from Richmond, Va., on Sept. 13, 1969; had two children. Worked as a project planner and then as a manager of the urban planning department for Wiley & Wilson, 1971-74. Visiting lecturer of urban design methodology at Virginia Tech, 1973-74; instructor of urban design, 1974-76; assistant professor and chair of the graduate program in urban design, 1976-81; associate professor and interim dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, 1981; dean of the college, 1981-1993. Named a Fellow in the American Institute of Architects, 1990. Acting vice president for public service, 1990-93. Promoted to full professor, 1993. Vice president for development and university relations and vice president of the Virginia Tech Foundation, 1993-2000. Selected president Nov. 8, 1999, effective Jan. 7, 2000. He stepped down from the presidency on May 31, 2014. He died on May 6, 2018, at his home in Blacksburg. He was 70.