Records of the Office of the President, Walter S. Newman
Scope and Content
The Records of the Office of the President, Walter S. Newman span the years 1947 to 1962, with the bulk of the material dating from 1947 to 1961. The collection consists primarily of Newman's General Correspondence. Also included, and interfiled with general correspondence, are budget requests and statements, financial reports, enrollment statistics, architects' contracts, audits, commencement and inaugural ephemera, statements to the Federal Power Commission, a few photographs, and reports on Virginia's public school system submitted to the Moses Commission.
There is also inauguration material, including programs, invitations, clippings, correspondence, speeches, and certificates of congratulations and greetings from other universities. Other materials include correspondence, reports, and some committee minutes dealing with the VPI World War II Memorial; correspondence, reports, and some minutes of the Research Council on Education (Governor's Advisory Committee) which Newman chaired; a folder of correspondence by John Hutcheson as Chancellor; and correspondence, reports, and other documents relating to the Virginia Polytechnic Institute Educational Foundation, Inc.
The records document Newman's administrative activities as president of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and many of the major developments that took place in the university's history during his term. In addition to General Correspondence, which constitutes the bulk of the collection, the records are organized into the following series: Honorary Awards Committee, Newman Library Building Project, and Oversize Materials.
General Correspondence consists of Newman's office files for each year of his presidency. The series is subdivided chronologically, and in each sub-series, materials are filed alphabetically by correspondent or subject, reflecting their original order.
Subjects discussed in Newman's correspondence include racial relations and desegregation, building projects, development of an adequate water supply for Blacksburg and Virginia Tech (see 1951 correspondence with Governor Battle), the Corps of Cadets, possible merger with Radford College in 1949, expansion of graduate programs, acquisition of a nuclear reactor simulator, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Moses Commission, development of radio and television stations at Virginia Tech, Virginia Tech faculty's statement of support of the House Un-American Activities Committee, football, the Southern Athletic Conference, concerns about hazing and panty raids at Radford College, and a petition on the part of the town of Blacksburg to annex the Virginia Tech campus.
Major correspondents include Virginia Attorney General and Governor Lindsay Almond, T.W. Mumford and John M. Devine, Commandants of the Corps of Cadets; L.A. Pardue, Vice President and Director of Graduate Studies; E.B. Norris, Director of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute Research Foundation; L.B. Dietrick, Dean of Agriculture, Dean John W. Whittemore, Hart Harris, Director of Personnel for the State of Virginia; Earl Fisher, Director of Development for Virginia Tech, the Virginia Polytechnic Institute Educational Foundation, Inc., the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, the Association of Land Grant Colleges and Universities, and the Virginia Advisory Legislative Council.
Notable correspondents include Virginia Governors William Tuck, John Battle, and Thomas Stanley. There is one letter from President Dwight Eisenhower and another from his brother Milton Eisenhower. Correspondence files labeled Legislation include a 1959 letter from Senator Lyndon B. Johnson as well as letters from Virginia Senator William Byrd, and other Virginia senators and congressmen.
Correspondence with Virginia Attorney General Lindsay Almond and Director of Admissions Paul Farrier in the early 1950s documents the University's strategy in response to efforts to challenge segregation in Virginia's public schools and universities and the decision to admit Irving L. Peddrew III, the first Black student enrolled at Virginia Tech. Files labeled "Racial Relations" from 1951 and 1952 document Newman's attempts, which proved unsuccessful, to help the defense in Dorothy Davis v. County School Board, Prince Edward County by providing historical evidence of equality of resources within segregation. A file of correspondence from 1961 with Mary Fessler, President of the Blacksburg Branch of the American Association of University Women, records Newman's decision to bar the organization from meeting on campus after a Black woman joined.
Subject and correspondence files on the Corps of Cadets document concerns about how mandatory participation in the Corps was effecting enrollment and efforts to strengthen the Corps during the 1950s.
The Honorary Awards Committee series consists of one folder of correspondence from 1962 pertaining to a proposed Honorary Awards Committee and expansion of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute Citation Committee.
The Newman Library Building Project series contains correspondence, bids, reports, color samples, and clippings pertaining to construction of Newman Library. Materials in this series date from 1949-1957. They are arranged alphabetically by subject, reflecting their original order.
The Oversize Materials series comprises organizational and financial charts, maps, and architectural drawings dating from the period 1957 to 1955. Much of this material was taken from the Newman Library Building Project series, but a few items were taken from the General Correspondence series. There is also material on Newman's inauguration
- 1947 - 1962
- Majority of material found within ( 1947-1961)
Language of Materials
The materials in the collection are in English.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research, with the exception of Box 24, which is restricted for 75 years from the date of record creation. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for more information.
Conditions Governing Reproductions 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: http://bit.ly/scuareproduction. Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: http://bit.ly/scuapublication. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives (email@example.com or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.
Walter Stephenson Newman (1895-1978) was president of Virginia Tech from 1947 to 1962. As president, Newman conferred more degrees than all his predecessors combined and oversaw more than $20,000,000 in campus construction. Newman put greater emphasis on research and graduate programs than any previous president, and several new graduate degree programs were established while he was president. In 1953, the first black student was admitted to Virginia Tech, notwithstanding Newman's active opposition to integration. Also during Newman's term, the status of the Corps of Cadets was studied, then strengthened with the appointment of the first full-time commandant of cadets since World War I.
Walter Newman was born in Woodstock, Virginia, on July 20, 1895. He earned an undergraduate degree from Hampden-Sydney College in 1917, a Masters of Science in agriculture from Virginia Tech in 1919, and a Ph.D. Degree in agriculture from Penn State in 1931. He was Assistant Professor of Agricultural Education at Virginia Tech from 1922 to 1936, when he became Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction for the state of Virginia. He also served as state administrator of the National Youth Administration from 1936 to 1942.
Newman returned to Virginia Tech as Vice President in May 1945. He assumed many of the duties of the office of the president in December 1946, when President John Hutcheson was hospitalized. The Board of Visitors appointed Newman Acting President in May 1947 and President on September 1, 1947.
Newman's presidency saw "the beginning of a strong effort to strengthen the offerings in the humanities," Duncan Lyle Kinnear writes in A Short History of Virginia Tech. Courses in Russian, philosophy and ethics were introduced, and the Department of Philosophy and Religion was organized in 1955.
Masters programs were added in City and Regional Planning, Engineering Geology, Aeronautical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering Physics, and Mathematics, and doctoral programs in Applied Mechanics and Geology, Mathematics, Aeronautical Engineering, and Civil Engineering. The Departments of Forestry and Wildlife Conservation, Veterinary Science, and Entomology were created from the Department of Biology; the Department of Extension Education was begun in the School of Agriculture; and the School of Home Economics was created. Roanoke Technical Institute, a division of Tech's School of Engineering, opened its doors in 1961.
In 1957, the university acquired a wind tunnel for use in its aeronautical engineering program. A nuclear reactor simulator, the first in the country owned by a college, began operations in 1957.
Dormitory capacity increased from 1,976 to 3,904 between 1947 and 1962. Buildings constructed while Newman was president include Newman Library (1955), Femoyer, Thomas, and Monteith dormitories (1949), Smyth and Henderson Halls (1950), the first wing of Randolph Hall and Williams Hall (1953), Commerce Hall (now Pamplin Hall, 1957), and Memorial Chapel (1960), and construction was begun on Cassell Coliseum and Schultz Dining Hall, and Vawter and Barringer dormitories (1962).
The Virginia Polytechnic Institute Educational Foundation, Inc., was established by the Board of Visitors in 1948 to increase gifts and endowments, and a Director of Development was hired in 1958. The Virginia Polytechnic Institute-Blacksburg-Christiansburg Water Authority was organized in 1954-1955, ensuring the campus with an abundant supply of water on campus beginning in 1957.
President Newman suffered a heart attack in March 1961. He returned to work in July but presented the Board of Visitors with his formal resignation soon afterward. Newman's resignation was made official December 4 , 1961.
- Jenkins Mikell Robertson, compiler and editor. Historical Data Book, Centennial Edition(Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1964 and 1972), 21-24.
- Duncan Lyle Kinnear, The First 100 Years: A History of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University(Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Polytechnic Institute Educational Foundation, Inc., 1972), 357-413.
- Peter Wallenstein, "The First Black Students at Virginia Tech," Diversity News, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Fall 1997), 3.
23.25 Cubic Feet (24 boxes and 2 oversize folders)
The Records of the Office of the President, Walter S. Newman consists of correspondence, financial documents, enrollment statistics, architects' contracts, audits, commencement and inaugural ephemera, statements to the Federal Power Commission, photographs, and reports on Virginia's public school system submitted to the Moses Commission.
The collection is arranged by type and subject into the following series:
- Series I. General Correspondence, 1947-1961
Materials are arranged chronologically by year and alphabetically by subject within each year. Sometimes correspondence is filed under subject and, in other years, by the name of the correspondent. For instance, correspondence with J.R. Abbitt, Superintendent of Building and Grounds, might be filed under "A" one year and "S" in another. In most cases, correspondence is arranged chronologically within each file.
- Series II. Honorary Awards Committee, 1962
One folder of correspondence regarding a proposed Honorary Awards Committee and expansion of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute Citation Committee.
- Series III. Newman Library Building Project, 1949-1957
Correspondence, bids, reports, and clippings pertaining to construction of Newman Library. Arranged alphabetically by subject.
- Series IV. Faculty Personnel Cases, 1953-1962
Correspondence relating to three faculty personnel cases involving faculty. Access to these materials is restricted for 75 years after it was created.
- Series V. Oversize Materials, 1947-1955
Oversize organizational and financial charts, maps, and architectural drawings taken from the General Correspondence and Newman Library Building Project series, as well as material on Newman's inauguration.
Please note: The majority of this collection is in off-site storage and requires 2-3 days notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives for more information.
Source of Acquisition
The majority of this collection was transferred to Special Collections and University Archives prior to 1987. Inauguration materials were transferred in 1972, one folder of athletics was transferred in 1981, and materials relating to his tenure as acting president in 1947 were transferred in 1989.
The collection was placed in acid-free folders when they were transferred to the University Archives prior to 1986. During processing in 2002, outgoing correspondence in Boxes 1-2 and the first 12 folders of Box 3 was copied onto acid-free paper. For the rest of the collection, only a few items believed to be of particular historical importance were copied onto acid-free paper. This was done because the paper used for copies of Newman's outgoing correspondence is of poor quality and in danger of deterioration. Oversize materials were removed from their original files, unfolded, and placed in the Oversize Materials series.
Annual reports of the Library have been catalogued and transferred from the Newman Library Construction Project series to the Rare Book Collection. A file of monthly circulation and accession reports from the period 1915 to 1919 have been transferred from the Newman Library Construction Project series to the Records of the Virginia Tech University Libraries, RG 23. All transfers are identified as part of the Records of the Office of the President, Walter S. Newman.
Rights Statement for Archival Description
The guide to the Records of the Office of the President, Walter S. Newman by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (https://creativecommons.org/share-your- work/public-domain/cc0/).
The processing, arrangement, and description of the Records of the Office of the President, Walter S. Newman commenced in June 2002 and completed in July 2002. Initial processing was completed in 1986.
- Records of the Office of the President, Walter S. Newman, 1947-1962 (Bulk 1947-1961)
- Sara Eye, Staff, Catherine G. OBrion, Staff, and Wendell Weisand, Archivist
- 2020 (CC0 1.0)
- Language of description
- Script of description
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