For some 5,000 incoming Virginia Tech freshman, it likely was a summer filled with anticipation and perhaps even a bit of angst.

But for all practical purposes, summer ends today when they join more than 19,000 returning students for the first day of fall semester classes on the Blacksburg campus.

The incoming Class of 2010 is comprised of 70.5 percent in-state students, with 29.5 percent representing 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, along with 36 students from foreign countries. The freshman class, which somewhat deviates from the national trend since male freshmen outnumber female freshmen, 55 percent to 45 percent, is entering the university with an average high school grade point average of 3.74 and an average SAT score of 1201.

In addition, some 2,091 new graduate students are beginning their advanced studies at the university this semester, including master's, Ph.D., and veterinary medicine students.

Scurrying to classes in this first week, both new and returning students will see a campus that reflects the continuing improvements being made to not only facilitate and enhance the teaching and learning process, but to also make being a Hokie a more comfortable and rewarding experience both inside and outside the classroom.

For example, some sixteen of Virginia Tech's most heavily used classrooms were the target of a $7.27 million Classroom Improvements Project over the summer that included installation of a variety of computer-based teaching/learning stations and associated renovations in eight classrooms to create computer-integrated laboratories, computer presentation classrooms, and distance learning class facilities.

Returning graduate students will find that their former Graduate School home in Sandy Hall has now moved to the Graduate Life Center, located in the former Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center. The remodeled facility, which opened earlier this month, houses the Graduate School offices on two levels of the original Alumni Hall.

As part of its continuing effort to build a more inclusive and welcoming campus climate, Virginia Tech also renovated and expanded its Multicultural Center in Squires Student Center this summer, creating a more comfortable and functional environment designed to enrich the quality of life for students who utilize that facility. Three meeting rooms adjacent to the center have also been converted into office space to house the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services.

Most students probably missed the blooming of Virginia Tech's rare, fascinating, and grossly pungent "Corpse Plant" that captured national headlines a couple of weeks ago, but they can all spend some time during the coming academic year relaxing at the new Peggy Lee Hahn Garden Pavilion, which was dedicated in June. This new facility, located at the south end of the Hahn Horticulture Garden on Washington Street, provides an event venue, visitor's center, seminar space, and office. A garden called the Meadow Garden is located behind the pavilion.

Students--both new and returning--who attended the "HokieHi Spirit Picnic" hosted by faculty and staff volunteers in the south end zone of Lane Stadium on Sunday have already been exposed to the recently completed West Sideline Expansion of the stadium, home of the nationally ranked Hokie football team. The picnic was followed by a pep rally, providing all in attendance with an introduction to "Hokie Pride" and a first-hand view of the final results of an extended period of sometimes controversial stadium construction, along with a peek at the new turf that blankets the stadium's Worsham Field.

Several major projects on campus are still under construction, and the entire university community will be able to track their progress over the coming year. Construction on the Life Sciences I Building, a 72,000 square foot facility on Washington Street, began in September 2005 and is scheduled for completion in summer 2007. This building will provide space for more than 200 faculty, students, and staff engaged in biological research.

Groundbreaking for the new 98,000 square-foot Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS-1) Building took place in May. The four-story facility, which faces Stanger Street near Old Turner Street, will house engineering-led research labs, offices, and work spaces. Construction is scheduled for completion in spring 2008.

Virginia Tech also launched its extensively redesigned "electronic front door"--the website--over the summer, with the goal of making access to key information, resources, and university programs faster and easier for students, staff, faculty, families, and others interested in keeping up-to-date with university news, policies, and other developments.

Less visible, perhaps, but no less important, University Libraries recently acquired a number of significant information resources as part of its Virginia Tech Information Needs Project to further support the teaching and research activities of the university’s students and faculty. Since the project’s inception two years ago, University Libraries has secured online access to publications of the major societies in automotive engineering, microbiology, and plant pathology. In addition, liberal arts faculty and students now benefit from online access to a number of resources, including the historical American Periodicals Online--the Early English Books--which includes the 125,000 titles published in English from 1473 to 1700.

Because many faculty expressed enthusiasm for full-text electronic journals and deeper retrospective content, pre-1995 content for more than 500 journals from Elsevier has been added, along with three more JSTOR libraries, allowing online access to the older content of nearly 400 important journals in the social sciences and humanities. Other new online resources also benefit specific research populations.

These and other changes, both ongoing and completed, reflect the university's continued commitment to provide a state-of-the-art, wholesome, and inspirational environment for productive teaching, learning, and research—the measure of which will be seen when today's freshmen participate in their 2010 commencement ceremonies.