updated 4/16/2007 9:12:35 PM ET 2007-04-17T01:12:35

On the first day of the fall semester in August, administrators at Virginia Tech canceled classes after a sheriff's deputy was fatally shot near campus during a manhunt for an escaped inmate.

On Monday, near the end of the academic year, the public university nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains was the site of the worst mass shooting in the nation's history.

A gunman killed 33 people, including himself, on the campus known for its powerhouse football team, its engineering school and the idyllic setting in the small town of Blacksburg, about 160 miles west of Richmond.

The university is also recognized for its agriculture and veterinary programs and has more than 25,000 full-time students.

The 2,600-acre campus has more than 100 buildings, many of which are constructed from the university's signature multicolored limestone mined from school-run quarries.

The university was founded in 1872 as the all-male Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College. In 1896, it changed its name to Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute, informally shortened to Virginia Tech.

The university admitted white women for the first time in 1921. The first black man enrolled in 1953, and six black women enrolled in 1966, according to the university.

On the football field, the Hokies have played in the postseason for the last 13 years, including in the 2000 national championship game, when they lost to Florida State. Notable football alumni include Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and his younger brother, Marcus Vick.

Virginia Tech also is known for its Corps of Cadets, a military training program within the university. Four-year service in the corps was mandatory until 1923. Two-year service was required for men until 1964, when it became voluntary. The corps admitted its first female cadets in 1973. The Corps of Cadets conducts training exercises on the school's drill field, located in the center of the campus.

The university has a budget of $900.6 million and a $447.4 million endowment, according to university figures. Charles Steger is the school's 15th president, having led Virginia Tech since January 2000.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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