More housing and hires coming as Virginia Tech braces for record freshman class
With about 1,100 more new freshmen and transfer students than usual enrolling at Virginia Tech this fall, the university and the town of Blacksburg are bracing for the impact.
Tech is taking several approaches to tackle the challenge, including converting two hotels into student housing and offering students scholarships if they defer entrance a year. Although the precise number of incoming students typically changes during the summer, Tech expects close to a record 8,000 freshmen to make up the class of 2024, says Tracy Vosburgh, senior associate vice president for university relations. The university offered admission to 22,035 students this year, about 2,000 more than in 2018, because it planned for a slightly larger freshman class, but more students accepted than expected.
The on-campus Inn at Virginia Tech will house more than 300 students, and Blacksburg’s Holiday Inn will also serve as student housing for close to 200 people.
“We do not know what the financials are on this,” Vosburgh says, although several university departments, including Student Affairs, Dining Services and the colleges of Liberal Arts, Science and Engineering, have all been approved to hire more people. All numbers are subject to change, Vosburgh notes, but as of July, Student Affairs is hiring 21 people, while the colleges are in the midst of hiring about 40 new instructors and advisers.
Despite the increases, academic schedules will not differ significantly, Vosburgh adds.
The main concern for the town is keeping vehicle traffic down.
“A lot of students ride our transit system here, so what we’re doing is focusing on improvements on the transit service, because we don’t really want them driving,” says Blacksburg Town Manager Marc Verniel. Blacksburg Transit provided rides for about 4 million passengers last year.
“We’ll have all the buses on the road, and we’ll have to hire extra drivers,” Verniel says. “It’s shifting around things, but it’s not a big budgetary concern.”
Aside from the immediate future, Verniel notes that Virginia Tech has “had a plan to grow to 30,000 undergraduates by 2023,” with housing for close to 5,000 more students.
Whether this huge influx of freshmen will affect next year’s admissions, Vosburgh says it is too early to know, but adds, “Once this class moves forward to their sophomore year, we have the capacity at the freshman level to do more.”