Author: Richard A. Hodges

Richard Hodges, Ed.D., is the director of Library Services for Florida Southwestern State College. His research focuses on the intersection of race, education, and industrial development in the South between 1954 and 1964.

The Founding of the Virginia Technical College System

The Virginia Technical College System, predecessor to the Virginia Community College System, was founded in 1964 in response to circumstances created by Massive Resistance, Virginia’s reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling outlawing segregation in public schools. Massive Resistance led to the closing of schools in Norfolk, Charlottesville, and Arlington for part of the 1958–1959 school year and the closing of the entire public school system in Prince Edward County for five years. The school closings cast doubt on Virginia’s ability to educate and train a modern workforce. Once seen as a business-friendly state, industrial investment in Virginia was brought to a virtual standstill due to the lack of confidence in the state’s education system. The development of a statewide system of technical colleges was recommended by the Virginia Industrialization Group as a key element to restoring Virginia’s education integrity and preparing its workforce for modern industry. The development of these colleges not only addressed the damage caused by Massive Resistance but also brought the promise of post–high school education and job training to Virginia. The founders of the technical college system created a plan to locate twenty-two colleges throughout the state. The first schools, Roanoke Technical College and Northern Virginia Technical College, opened to students in September 1965 with larger-than-expected enrollments. In March 1966 the Virginia Technical College System became the Virginia Community College System.