Early History of Horticulture at Virginia Tech

Horticulture is one of the oldest departments at Virginia Tech, with the first floriculture class being offered in 1872, the year W. Addison Caldwell became Virginia Tech’s first student. In 1892 Dr. J.M. McBryde was elected President of Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and the Experiment Station (now Virginia Tech). During President McBryde’s tenure, the courses of study at the college were completely reorganized and the reputation of the college solidified, giving him the name of “the Father of V.P.I.” Mr. W. B. Alwood, noted pomologist and enologist was elected to be the first chair of the department of Horticulture, Mycology, and Entomology. Mycology and Entomology formed their own department in 1902 and Harvey L. Price became the first Head of the new Department of Horticulture. He later became the Dean of Agriculture and was the person for whom Price Hall is named.

Doris ShannonDoris Shannon

The first Bachelor of Science degrees at the university were awarded in 1892 to five students, one of whom was a horticulture major (the others were in chemistry, civil engineering, and mechanical engineering). Women students were small in number in the early years, with the first class of women graduating in 1925. One of these early women graduates, Doris Shannon of Blacksburg, was perhaps the first woman horticulture student— graduating in 1930.