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Paul H. Farrier family


Biographical Note

Paul H. Farrier was the Director of Admissions at Virginia Tech during the 1950s. He received his B.A. from Emory and Henry College in 1919, his M.A. from the University of Virginia in 1927, and his PhD also from UVA in 1929. Farrier then worked as an assistant English professor at Kentucky Wesleyan College before working as a Virginia Tech English professor for nine years, starting in 1936.

Farrier was the Director of Admissions at VPI for ten years before he became the Executive Secretary for the Virginia State Council of Higher Education for two years in 1956. During his time in the Virginia State Council of Higher Education, Farrier worked on such projects as comparing public university meal prices, restructuring the home economics programs at VPI and Radford, and setting up an accredited school of forestry at Virginia Tech. In October of 1958, Farrier was reinstated as Director of Admissions at VPI and shared his duties with Landon Fuller, who had assumed the position during Farrier’s two years leave.

In addition to being in charge of admitting students, Farrier was also involved in the hiring of new faculty positions, student honor court proceedings, gathering student financial aid, working closely with high school officials, and dropping students based on poor behavior or academics. He was deeply passionate about being generous and inclusive with admissions, often admitting unqualified but motivated students to a ‘basic program.’ Farrier often referenced the value of this ‘basic program’ in his correspondence with President Newman; the program allowed unprepared freshman students to be admitted as undeclared majors if they took a lighter course load and received close counseling. Farrier believed that under-performing students should not be barred from receiving a higher education or be dropped, but instead should be kept in closer contact with. This generous attitude invited criticisms throughout Farrier’s career; one high school principal even told him, “the VPI graduate murders the King’s English and lets it lie in its gore.” Such negative attitudes were further perpetuated by the fact that VPI offered practical, less refined degrees, such as those in agriculture and business. Later in his career, Farrier implemented a more selective admissions process, eliminating the bottom ten percent of the applicant pool and phasing out the ‘basic’ program.

Receiving such criticism and opposition were not the only difficulties Farrier faced in his career as Director of Admissions at VPI. The college application process was an evolving landscape that he had to continually adjust to. Because he received applications from students from a variety of backgrounds, Farrier was instrumental in increasing the use of college aptitude tests as to better screen students beyond those that came from out of state. Farrier was also continually worried about admitted students’ maturity levels and the college adjustment process; thus, he helped set up student counseling programs to solve such worries. Additionally, Farrier was plagued by the departure of some of the best VPI students as they transferred elsewhere on scholarships; he worked hard to increase financial aid opportunities to keep such students. Other difficulties included facing applicant opposition towards the military aspects of VPI and battling the lack of dorm space available for increasingly enlarged freshman classes. For all these difficulties, Farrier maintained that increasing good public relations was part of the solution.

Pence Farrier, the daughter of Paul H. Farrier, graduated from Virginia Tech in 1953. She also attended Randolph-Macon Women’s College. At Virginia Tech, Pence attended many dances and was a YMCA cabinet member and the secretary of Mirror Mask in her senior year. Shortly after graduation, she married Roy Howard Ellis, another VPI alumnus.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Paul H. Farrier Family Papers

Identifier: Ms-2010-084

This collection contains materials relating to Paul H. Farrier and his daughter Pence Farrier, a former Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI) Director of Admissions and a VPI alumnus, respectively, during the years of 1936 to 1970. Included are administrative papers such as business correspondence and admissions reports as well as general VPI memorabilia for campus events and activities, such as newspaper clippings, invitations, programs, and tickets.

Dates: 1936 - 1970