Board of Visitors

Bylaws of the Board of Visitors


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, popularly known as Virginia Tech, has evolved since its founding in 1872 into a comprehensive state land-grant university of increasing national and international prominence, heavily influenced by its land-grant heritage. The federal Morrill Act of 1862 mandated for the land-grant colleges not only the teaching of agricultural and mechanical arts and sciences, but also "the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life." It embraced three basic principles which shaped the destiny of the land-grant institutions: (1) that higher education should be made available to talented men and women regardless of economic class or conditions, (2) that inquiry and instruction should be directed toward the end of knowledge for its own sake, as well as toward knowledge applied for the benefit of all; and (3) that the results of scientific inquiry should be immediately and broadly disseminated throughout the society.

The University's instructional, research, and extension programs still are rooted in these principles. The Virginia statutes which created and control the institution heavily reflect the land-grant orientation. Subsequent federal legislation, including the Hatch Act of 1877, which established the agricultural experiment stations, and the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which created the Federal Extension Service, further emphasized the multiple purpose of the University. The multiple-mission, multiple-agency structure of the University introduces some complexity into its internal organization, and into its relationships with the executive and legislative branches of both the state and federal governments. Each to some degree exercises budgetary and administrative control of various programs and activities of the institution which must be accommodated in the basic policies and programs of the University. These regulations and their interpretations provide a part of the reality in which the University functions as it seeks to fulfill the purposes for which it exists.

The public trustees are responsible for the University's academic and fiscal integrity and for the basic policies under which it is administered. With the Governor, they are responsible under applicable state statutes for the faithful execution of the requirements of law, as well as for the continued adaptation of the instructional programs to the evolving needs of the society which the University serves. The trustees collectively constitute the University's Board of Visitors. Much of the Board's duty and authority is delegated to the President whom it appoints. The Board, however, cannot delegate its legal obligations; service on the Board involves significant trustee responsibilities.

It is in this context that the Board's normal operating procedures, reflecting both its traditions and its legal responsibility, have been codified as bylaws conveniently available for reference.

Last updated June 2021.