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Paul H. Farrier Family Papers

Identifier: Ms-2010-084

Scope and Content

This collection contains materials dated from 1936 to 1970 relating to Paul Farrier during his time as Director of Admissions at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI) and his daughter, Pence Farrier, during her time as an undergraduate student at VPI. Administrative materials include business correspondence, admissions reports, and newspaper clippings. Various VPI memorabilia items are also included in this collection and largely pertain to Pence Farrier’s college days: most items are invitations, programs, and tickets relating to such activities as athletics, dances, memorials, and commencements.


  • 1936 - 1970

Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials.

Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

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.


0.7 Cubic Feet (1 box; 2 oversized folders)


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.


This collection is arranged two series, Series I: Administrative Files and Series II: VPI Memorabilia.

Series I: Administrative Files, 1936-1966, contains three folders arranged by subject matter; within each topic, materials are arranged chronologically whenever possible. Materials in this series include business correspondence, newspaper clippings relating to Farrier’s appointment as Executive Secretary for the Virginia State Council of Higher Education, and VPI admissions reports.

Series II: VPI Memorabilia, 1941-1970, contains twelve folders as well as two oversized folders arranged by subject matter; within each topic, materials are arranged chronologically whenever possible. Materials within this series consist of artifacts, invitations, tickets, programs, and news clippings relating to campus events and activities such as sports, dances, memorials, concerts, retirements, plays, and commencements.

Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated to Special Collections and University Archives in 2010.

Related Archival Materials

See the following materials, which are also at Virginia Tech Special Collections and University Archives:

Records of the Office of the President, Walter S. Newman, RG 2/10

Wayne Morse Letter, Ms1947-001

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Paul H. Farrier Family Papers by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 ( work/public-domain/cc0/).

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the Paul H. Farrier Family Papers was completed in November 2010.

Paul H. Farrier Family Papers, 1936-1970
Julia Viets, Student Worker
2010 (CC0 1.0)
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US