Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences

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Virginia Tech
College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
Motto Ut Prosim (That I may serve)
Established 1964
Type Public
Dean Elizabeth Spiller
Location Blacksburg, Virginia

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech comprises two schools, 14 departments, and the Corps of Cadets’ ROTC programs. The college also has connections to research facilities and local community service organizations through which students can earn experience in major related fields and has many study abroad programs. In 2010-11, the college had 4,386 students taking courses on the Blacksburg campus.[1] The college’s current dean, Elizabeth Spiller, was appointed in 2014.[2]


The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences traces its roots in the university back to the Home Economics Department, which was established in 1924.[3] As the university expanded over the next few decades, the department also grew, eventually becoming the College of Home Economics in 1964. The college then continued to grow and began to incorporate more disciplines into its programs. In 1981, the college changed its name to the College of Human Resources in order to more accurately describe the areas of study offered through the college. Then, in 1996, it added “and Education” to its name as teaching became a focus of the college.

In 2001, the College of Human Resources and Education became the College of Human Sciences and Education. The college decided to change “Resources” to “Sciences” in order to better reflect its programs and distinguish itself from the field of human resources. Then, in a university restructuring which split the College of Arts and Sciences in 2003, Senior Vice President and Provost Mark McNamee levied the current name of College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.[4]


In 2010-11, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences was the second largest of the university’s eight colleges in terms of enrollment.[5] The college contains the School of Education, the School of Performing Arts and Cinema, 14 academic departments, and the Corps of Cadets’ ROTC programs.

School of Education[edit]

The Virginia Tech School of Education offers master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees in 23 areas of professional education, leadership (K-12 and higher education), counseling, an instructional design and technology. The Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, the Department of Learning Sciences and Technologies, and the Department of Teaching and Learning form the School of Education. As of 2010, over 900 students were enrolled in the school’s three departments. The School of Education has been accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) since 1973.[6]

School of Performing Arts and Cinema[edit]

The School of Performing Arts and Cinema is an administrative, programmatic unit within the university, bringing together the faculty, staff, and students in the Department of Music and the Department of Theatre & Cinema. The school’s mission is to elevate awareness and expand the impact of the shared creative experience through discovery, learning, and engagement.[7]


The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences comprises 14 academic departments, which offer undergraduate and graduate degrees:

  • Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management
  • Communication
  • English
  • Foreign Languages and Literatures
  • History
  • Human Development
  • International Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Religion and Culture
  • School of Performing Arts (Music, Theatre, and Cinema)
  • Science and Technology in Society (STS)

Corps of Cadets' ROTC Programs[edit]

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences houses the Corps of Cadets' Air Force, Army, and Naval ROTC programs. Cadets in these programs can earn a minor in leadership upon satisfactory completion of the 18-credit curriculum. The goal of the ROTC programs is to prepare cadets to become commissioned officers on active duty upon graduation, and Virginia Tech's programs have had success in reaching this goal. Since 2005, the Air Force ROTC program has had eighty-nine percent of its graduates who wanted rated positions earn them.[8] In addition, ninety percent of the Naval ROTC's graduating midshipmen in 2010 received their first choice for service selection.[9]

Research, Outreach, and Creative Scholarship[edit]

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences has connections to research facilities and local community service organizations that often allow students to gain experience in their major-related fields. Students can also initiate their own research ideas through the college’s Undergraduate Research Institute.[10] In addition, the university has plans to open the Center for the Arts in 2013, which will include a 1,260-seat performance theatre, visual arts galleries, and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology.[11]

Adult Day Services[edit]

Adult Day Services is part of Virginia Tech’s Department of Human Development in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. The organization strives to provide a service to New River Valley older adults and their families, a teaching site for students at Virginia Tech and other institutions devoted to learning about community-based care for older adults, and a research site for faculty and students interested in designing, testing, and implementing projects involving issues on aging. Adult Day Services opened in November 1992 in Wallace Hall next to the Child Development Center for Learning and Research (then Child Laboratory Center). This location allows Adult Day Services, in conjunction with the Child Development Center for Learning and Research, to offer an intergenerational program, Neighbors Growing Together, which encourages interaction between children and older adults.[12]

Child Development Center for Learning and Research[edit]

The Virginia Tech Child Development Center for Learning and Research (CDCLR), located in Wallace Hall on the Blacksburg campus, is a nationally accredited, full-time preschool for young children that provides educational experiences for those interested in studying child development and early childhood education. Additionally, the CDCLR attempts to generate new knowledge about child development and early childhood education through the study, observation, and research of this topic. The philosophy of the CDCLR is grounded in social constructivist theory.[13]

The Family Therapy Center[edit]

The Department of Human Development’s Family Therapy Center offers psychotherapy and counseling to thousands of couples, families, individuals, and organizations in the New River Valley and surrounding areas. Therapists specialize in working with couples, families, and individuals in emotional distress, as well as providing consultation to businesses and organizations. The Family Therapy Center is located on University Boulevard in Blacksburg, Va.[14]


Founded by Ivica Ico Bukvic in May 2009 as part of Virginia Tech Music Department’s Digital Interactive Sound & Intermedia Studio, L2Ork is the world’s first laptop orchestra powered by Linux. L2Ork has performed at a number of college campuses, including Virginia Tech, Duke University, and Southern Illinois University. In 2011, the group went on tour in Europe. They performed in Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Germany, Croatia, Netherlands, France, and Norway.[15]

Philologia Undergraduate Research Journal[edit]

Philologia, which is Greek for "scholarship, love of learning," is an undergraduate research journal created by students in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences in 2009. It is an annually published, multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal featuring the work of liberal arts students, primarily from Virginia Tech but also from other ACC schools. The fourth edition of the journal is scheduled for release in May 2012. The journal is housed in the Undergraduate Research Institute of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.[16]

Undergraduate Research Institute[edit]

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Undergraduate Research Institute (URI) aims to expose undergraduates to investigation, inquiry, and creative expression in the liberal arts and human sciences. Through URI, students may discover research opportunities, conference listings, and faculty members who share similar interests.[17]

Virginia Tech Writing Center[edit]

The Virginia Tech Writing Center, located in Shanks Hall, is open to all Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff. Clients may walk-in or schedule appointments for assistance with writing and reading assignments. The Writing Center’s staff consists primarily of undergraduate and graduate student students, most of whom are English students. For clients who need help after normal business hours, the Writing Center also has satellite locations in Newman Library, Donaldson-Brown Graduate Life Center, and Femoyer Hall.[18]


Although Virginia Tech is not typically known for its liberal arts programs, students and programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences have earned top national rankings over the past few years. In 2011, three Virginia Tech apparel, housing, and resource management students placed in the top 10 out of 401 college and university competitors in the National Kitchen & Bath Association/General Electric (NKBA/GE) Charette Competition.[19] The competition required that students propose a plan for a kitchen renovation within a three-hour time constraint. Students had to submit a floor plan with specifications, an elevation of the design, and a design statement.

The Department of English’s M.F.A. program in creative writing has also received national attention. In 2011, the bi-monthly magazine, Poets & Writers, recognized Virginia Tech as 35th among 527 M.F.A. programs nationally, positioning it in the top 7 percent. The magazine also ranked Virginia Tech’s M.F.A. program 10th in poetry, which has the program continuing its upward trend.[20]

In addition, the 2010 U.S. News & World Report guide to university graduate programs ranked Virginia Tech’s School of Education in the top 100 schools of education. The guide also ranked the School of Education’s career and technical education tied for fourth among vocational and technical specialties for the second year in a row.[21]

According to US News & World Report, Virginia Tech's Sociology Graduate Program is ranked in the top 100 in the U.S.[22]

The Political Science program at Virginia Tech was ranked 13th in the country for return on investment. This study, performed by AC Online, stated that Virginia Tech students majoring in political science averaged a 30-year return on investment of $763,700.

Distinguished Faculty[edit]

  • Jacqueline Bixler, an Alumni Distinguished Professor of foreign languages and literatures, is an author, editor, and researcher specializing in Latin American theatre.[23]
  • Rosemary Blieszner, an Alumni Distinguished Professor of human development, is the associate dean of Virginia Tech’s graduate school and the associate director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Gerontology.[24] Additionally, she holds the position of editor-in-chief for Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences.[25]
  • Gary Downey, an Alumni Distinguished Professor of science and technology in society (STS), is a mechanical engineer and cultural anthropologist, who has international recognition for his work founding a unique interdisciplinary field called Engineering Studies.[26]
  • Thomas Gardner, an Alumni Distinguished Professor of English, has received Fulbright, Guggenheim Fellowship, and NEA grants for his work, which include Discovering Ourselves in Whitman, Regions of Unlikeness: Explaining Contemporary Poetry, Jorie Graham: Essays on the Poetry, and Emily Dickinson and Contemporary Writers.[27]
  • Nikki Giovanni is a University Distinguished Professor of English as well as a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, and activist.[28] Giovanni has made a huge impact on the Virginia Tech campus through her leadership following April 16, 2007 and a recent monetary gift she made in 2010 with Virginia Tech English professor Virginia Fowler in order to promote the arts and humanities at the university.[29]
  • Lucinda Roy, an Alumni Distinguished Professor of English, is a novelist, educator, and poet. Currently, she teaches graduate classes in the college's Creative Writing M.F.A. program.

Notable Alumni[edit]

  • Don Strock (secondary education 1973) played quarterback in the NFL from 1973 through 1989 and spent 14 years (1973–87) with the Miami Dolphins.[31]
  • Peggy Fox (communication 1986) is a reporter for the CBS affiliate station WUSA-TV (Channel 9) in Washington, D.C.[36]
  • Hoda Kotb (communication 1986), co-anchor of the fourth hour of Today, has been a Dateline NBC correspondent since April 1998 and the host of the weekly syndicated series Your Total Health since September 2004.[37]
  • Chet Culver (political science 1988) was the 41st governor of Iowa from 2007-2011.
  • Vernell “Bimbo” Coles, who studied housing, interior design, and resource management, was Virginia Tech’s first student-athlete to participate in the Olympics, playing point guard on the 1988 U.S. basketball team in South Korea. He also played in the NBA, ending his 14-year career with the Miami Heat after the 2003-04 season.[38]
  • Andrea Ballengee Preuss (political science 1995) was crowned Mrs. America in 2005.[42]
  • André Davis (Residential Property Management 2002) is a wide receiver and kick returner in the NFL.[44]


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External links[edit]

  • College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences home page [1]