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Kathy Wirtanen
Administrative, Facility
& Conference Assistant

P:  (540) 464-7361
F: (540) 464-7396

Center for Leadership & Ethics
VMI, Marshall Hall
500 Anderson Drive
Lexington, VA  24450

About the Leadership Conference 

Begun in 2010, the VMI Leadership Conference is a hallmark of the Center for Leadership and Ethic’s programming. It is a top tier conference that addresses a significant issue of ethical leader development, including living an honorable lifestyle in contemporary America.

The conference attracts the attention of faculty and students of the nation’s foremost schools, members of the public and private sectors, military leaders, and non-profit audiences. By bringing these representatives on Post, VMI once again leads national conversations on diverse themes of leadership and ethics in modern society.


2014 George Washington: The American Cincinnatus

Designed for an audience of the Corps of Cadets and interested faculty and staff, the 2014 VMI Leadership Conference explored George Washington as an exemplar of honor and leadership. Participants examined this heroic figure to gain a deeper understanding of his motivations and decisions, and were challenged to decide if the leadership insight gleaned was relevant in the world today.

This conference provided a forum for cadets to discuss the themes of Washington’s life including honor, leadership, public service and self-improvement. Such discussions enhanced the leadership training system of VMI, allowing cadets to reflect on their own philosophies and skills while examining those of others.

Speakers included internationally renowned scholars of George Washington, leaders from the VMI community, and MBTA Patrol Officer Richard “Dic” Donohue, VMI ’02, who reflected on how his cadetship at Virginia Military Institute shaped his leadership style, particularly during the events of April 19, 2013 when he responded to back up local law enforcement and a bullet severed his femoral artery during a gun battle with the alleged Boston Marathon bombers.

A fulldescription of this and all past conferences are available online.

2013 Building and Strengthening Honor Codes: Inspiring Honor and Respect
Designed at the urging of VMI’s Honor Court, the 2013 VMI Leadership Conference explored the “nuts and bolts” of collegiate honor codes, including developing a culture of learning and honor, academic integrity in class and homework, building and honor code, adjudicating alleged violations, and strengthening an honor system.

Speakers included Mr. Martin Smith, producer of The Untouchables, PBS FRONTLINE, Mr. Edward Jurith, U.S. Representative, Foundation Board of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Chairman of WADA’s Education Committee and the VMI Honor Court.

In 2014, the conversation continued with the first stand-alone VMI Honor Summit, at which more than 80 undergraduate, faculty and staff delegates from colleges and universities across the country discussed gaining honor code buy-in from students and faculty, administrative processes, education, and a future without honor. Dr. Dan Ariely, James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics Fuqua School of Business, Duke University and author of “The Honest Truth about Dishonesty,” delivered the keynote address.

Full descriptions of these and all past conferences are available online.
2012 Cheating, Lying and Honor in America’s High Schools, Colleges and Universities
The 2012 VMI Leadership Conference highlighted what many have referred to as a national epidemic of cheating. Major goals of this conference were to begin a discussion and to give students and faculty alike a chance to explore topics such as corporate corruption, cheating on the SAT, liespotting and life after honor systems.

Speakers included the Honorable Louis J. Freeh, Director, U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (1993 – 2001), Pamela Meyer, author of “Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception” (2010), and Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta, recipient of the Medal of Honor, 2010, and first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War.

A full description of this andall past conferences are available online.
2010 Answering the Nation's Call for Leaders of Character

The 2010 VMI Leadership Conference acknowledged the need for leaders of character in our country and brought together experts on topics that bear on our collective responsibility for leader development. It provided a forum for discussion among representatives of the federal academies, senior military colleges, the Department of Defense, government agencies, and the private sector.

Speakers included General Barry R. McCaffrey, USA (ret.), President of McCaffrey Associates, LLC, Mr. Philip K. Howard, Esq., author of Life Without Lawyers, Captain Dick Couch, USN (ret.), author of “Sheriff of Ramadi,” LTG Robert L. Caslen, Jr., Commanding General, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center & Fort Leavenworth, Mr. Craig Mullaney, Senior Advisor to the Administrator on Afghanistan and Pakistan, USAID and author of “The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education,” and Coach Bobby Ross, Former Head Coach of Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers, US Military Academy, Citadel, the University of Maryland, and Georgia Tech.

A full description of this and all past conferences are available online.