A welcome message to returning students and families from Virginia Tech
August 5, 2019
Dear Returning Hokie and Established Hokie Family Members,
I hope you have had a wonderful summer and are preparing for your return to campus and a new academic year. Virginia Tech is simply not the same without students, so we are excited you’ll be back soon!
I communicated with you earlier this summer about the Class of 2023 enrollment surge and I wanted to connect with you again to share important information that might help you navigate the campus this fall in ways that can benefit you and your fellow students.
You may have seen the important update article we published last week and I wanted to expand on some of the issues addressed:
Housing – As you may have heard, we will be utilizing both The Inn at Virginia Tech and the Holiday Inn Express as residential housing facilities this year. We consider the hotels part of our campus residence hall system and will provide student and professional staff, social opportunities, and other valuable educational programs as we do in all of our halls. For those in tripled or modified rooms, we are doing all things possible to ensure spaces are conducive to the living and learning environment that Hokies expect.
Dining – Every year, our dining halls are full at the beginning of the semester as new and returning students figure out their schedules and (re)connect with friends. There is no doubt that increased enrollments this year will accentuate this. Dining Services has new strategies to manage the enrollments and will unequivocally be able to accommodate all students during all meal times. However, there are personal choices that students can make to avoid lines and wait times.
Here is a snapshot of what Dining Services will do to ensure Hokies can eat well:
- Increase the total number of operating hours in the centers by 200 hours each week (6,300 additional hours for the academic year).
- Extend operating hours in all main dining centers, including breakfast at Owens starting at 7:30 a.m.
- Strategically place food trucks for high volume locations and times.
- Significantly increase “Grab and Gobble” options (including full meals!).
- Upgrade technology including six new self-ordering and payment kiosks in select dining centers.
The bottom line is this: we can feed all students well and with the highest quality of service! However, you need to choose your times and dining centers wisely so you do not stand in lines longer than necessary. In particular, we expect that Turner Place at Lavery Hall will be busy during all open hours of operation, especially lunch (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) so we encourage you to visit one of our other dining venues, pick up a “Grab and Gobble” option in the morning to take with you for lunch, or adjust your lunch hour earlier or later. Dining Services’ will utilize social media and web pages for ongoing communication.
Counseling – Last year, a Mental Health Task Force was commissioned to identify ways that we can continue to support the increased need for counseling services. As a result of this task force, we are launching a Mental Health Initiative to actualize all recommendations. Additionally, we continue to maintain a counselor-to-student ratio considered best practice by accreditation standards. We will always invest in and care about the well-being of our students.
Parking – On any given day, there are 1500 available parking spots on campus. While they may not be available in the exact location you desire them, there is available parking! But if you prefer not to park and walk, check out the Blacksburg Transit.
Blacksburg Transit (BT) – We know that many students need buses to access campus and the local area. We have been working with the Town of Blacksburg to increase the number of buses and bus routes while extending service in high traffic areas. We encourage you to download the BT app and consider alternative transportation. Take a few minutes this summer to familiarize yourself with route times, frequencies, and locations nearest you.
Community – Just because you are a returning student doesn’t mean that we don’t want to see you early and often this academic year! There are many ways we work to foster community and create a sense of belonging... and you can help us do so for our newest Hokies too! We encourage you to participate and/or attend any of the following to find a sense of place here… or to help someone else find theirs:
- Welcome Week, GobblerFest, and GobblerNights
- Faculty members and staff on-campus who want to serve as mentors
- First-generation college student initiatives
- Cranwell International Center
- Cultural and Community Centers (American Indian and Indigenous Community; Asian Cultural Engagement; Black Cultural; El Centro (LatinX); Intercultural Engagement; LGBTQ+; Veterans; and Women)
- Hokie Wellness (including a new Financial Wellness program)
- Dean of Students Office
- GobblerConnect -- your connection to nearly 800 student organizations, including faith and interfaith communities
- Visit our Student Centers and Student Engagement and Campus Life
- Recreational Sports for exercise, physical activity, and intramural sports
As I stated in my Orientation welcome, we want you to fully ExperienceVT. We are committed to you and we want you to thrive -- not just survive -- at Virginia Tech. We want you to learn, develop, and grow during your time here to become the best version of yourself. And, we are doing all that we can to ensure that the student experience is an amazing one --- one that students have come to know and love.
Should you have more questions before your arrival and what we are doing to prepare, please visit the VT23 FAQ web page. We care about the student experience and are committed to your success as students and as individuals!
Enjoy the rest of your summer! We are actively preparing for and anticipating your arrival!
Patricia A. Perillo
Vice President for Student Affairs