Virginia Tech, the YMCA, and Our History
A Shared History of Growth — 1873 to 2010
Today the YMCA at Virginia Tech, an independent non-profit organization, is one of the most respected and progressive campus YMCA programs. A large part of this is due to the long-standing and mutually beneficial relationship that exists between the YMCA and Virginia Tech.
In the early years of Virginia Tech’s history, the YMCA performed almost all non-academic functions of the university, and continually worked to improve and enrich the lives of Virginia Tech students. In fact, the YMCA published the first Student Handbook and held the first student orientation. This tradition continued from the late 1880s to the late 1950s.
The YMCA opened the doors to its first on-campus building in 1902 (now the Performing Arts Building), signaling the commencement of an era in which the YMCA served as the center of campus life. For most of the century, the YMCA has focused its energy on the religious, social, physical, and intellectual well-being of Virginia Tech students.
The 1970’s marked a radical change for the YMCA as the Student Union movement grew and Virginia Tech took over many of the programs the YMCA had launched. The YMCA responded by using its relationship with Virginia Tech to enhance and expand its service to the community. This community service continues today.
The key to the successful relationship between the YMCA and Virginia Tech has been the YMCA’s ability to adapt to the changing needs of Virginia Tech students and the surrounding community.
A Legacy of Leadership
By 1900, there were over 800 campus YMCAs around the country. Today there are only 21, including the YMCA at Virginia Tech. Only an excellent legacy of leadership has given our YMCA such staying power. The YMCA at Virginia Tech flourishes today, owing to the efforts of early leaders such as Paul Derring, the Reverend Al Payne, Emily Stuart, Barbara Michelson, and influential volunteer leaders like Lucy Lee Lancaster.
The YMCA works to build leaders in Virginia Tech students, offering over 11 programs in which they can participate and gain valuable experience while contributing to their community. The Y Student Programs (YSP) began in 1986 and has been operating successfully ever since, thanks to the leadership abilities of staff and volunteers.
The YMCA at Virginia Tech’s programs help turn the students of today into the leaders of tomorrow; a convention that all started with a legacy of leadership that has remained consistent since the YMCA’s inception at Virginia Tech in 1873.
The YMCA also proudly serves all walks of life in the community through education programs, after-school children’s programs, tutoring, international services, our thrift shop, and other community services.
The YMCA works with the community, the town, the county, and the public school system to identify needs and incorporate volunteers into programs to address those needs.
The YMCA currently serves over 27,000 community members through our various programs.