Building Dedication, Black Reunion Highlight Virginia Tech Celebration

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 24, 2003 – The dedication of the first building on the Virginia Tech campus named for African Americans and a two-day reunion of black alumni March 28-30 will highlight the university's celebration of black students on campus.

The university billed the dedication of Peddrew-Yates Residence Hall at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 29, as the capstone event of its year-long celebration. The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors passed a resolution on June 3, 2002, renaming New Residence Hall West in honor of Irving L. Peddrew III, the first black student to attend the university, and Charlie L. Yates, the first black student to graduate.

Peddrew enrolled in what was then called Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI) in 1953 and was the only African American among 3,322 students--mostly white males--during his first year studying electrical engineering. Three more black men joined him in 1954, and one of them, Yates, went on four years later to become the first black to graduate. Both men are expected to speak briefly during the dedication ceremony.

Registration for the African American reunion will get under way at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 28. Among the events planned for the alumni, who will include several of the first black men and women to enroll (six black women enrolled in 1966) will be a Community Showcase, opportunities for the alumni to share their memories and photographs of their campus life, receptions, a black alumni interest meeting, videos on the first black women students, a Golden Anniversary Banquet, and a networking breakfast to introduce current black students to successful African-American alumni. About 250 people already have registered for the reunion.

The full schedule of events is available online at