VT’s Board of Visitors Executive Committee approves renaming of residence halls

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) – The Executive Committee of Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors voted unanimously on Thursday to remove the names of Claudius Lee and Paul Barringer from campus residence halls.

The committee also voted to name the residence hall, located at 570 Washington Street, SW (formerly known as Lee Hall) for the late William and Janie Hoge, a local African American couple who played a critical role in the success and well-being of the first African American students attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute in the 1950s.

The Hoges, born in the 1880s to formerly enslaved parents, hosted Irving L. Peddrew III when he arrived in Blacksburg in 1953. From then until 1959, the Hoges hosted several young men who had been admitted as engineering undergraduates but who, on racial grounds, were denied housing on campus. Their care and support of these students played a critical role in facilitating the beginnings of African American enrollment at Virginia Tech.

Mrs. Hoge died the following June in 1960. Mr. Hoge then moved with his son to Norfolk and died in 1964.

The committee also voted, on Thursday, to name the residence hall at 240 Kent Street, formerly known as Barringer Hall for the late James Leslie Whitehurs Jr. ’63, the first Black student permitted to live on campus in 1961. Upon graduation, he became a fighter pilot with the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, was a major in the Air Force Reserve in Virginia and was a member of the Air National Guard. He was also the first African American to serve on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, serving from 1970 to 1974. Whitehurst died in 2013.

Virginia Tech President Tim Sands commented about the new names of both residence halls.

“The Hoge name represents the broad array of people who, in so many roles throughout the years and in untold ways, provided essential support for our first Black students. By naming this residence hall for William and Janie Hoge, it also acknowledges the many important connections between campus and community.

James Whitehurst was a pioneer among pioneers and a forceful voice for effective change. He was committed to a life of serving others, blazing a trail for generations of students of color coming after him to live and learn in a space that was initially denied to him. He is an inspiration to our students and all members of our community.”

Tim Sands, Virginia Tech President

The Executive Committee has the authority to vote on resolutions on behalf of the full board. Thursday’s decision by the committee will be brought before the full board membership for ratification when it meets in Blacksburg on Aug. 23-25.

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