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Class Agents Gather for Annual Conference

On March 30 and 31, 2012, 45 of VMI’s Class Agents gathered on Post for their annual conference hosted by the VMI Foundation and the VMI Alumni Association. This year, the senior attendee was Tom Peyton, representing the Class of 1944, and the junior attendee was Bruce Howard, the newly minted Class Agent for the Class of 2012.

This year, the Class Agent Conference began with a luncheon in the Hall of Valor in Marshall Hall with cadet class leaders as special guests. Immediately afterward, they gathered in Gillis Theater for a workshop that focused on improving their services to their Brother Rats and the VMI Family as a whole. After receiving a briefing on VMI’s current strategic goals and the means to achieve them, the Class Agents concluded their day by gathering in Moody Hall for cocktails, dinner, and a special presentation by the Director of VMI Museums, Colonel Keith Gibson.

The next day’s events began General Peay making a presentation “VMI: An Assessment Today,” after which he fielded questions from the Class Agents. Next, Matthew Schwarzmann ’90, the VMI Alumni Association’s Information Officer, held an orientation session related to the new electronic application that allows for easy on-line reading of the VMI Alumni Review. Afterward, the Director of Admissions, Colonel Vernon Beitzel ’72, provided an insight into the process by which VMI sift through the hundreds of men and women who annually apply for a slot in the entering class with a presentation entitled, “Profile of a Successful Applicant.” After a few remarks from Patrick Webb, Vice President of Annual and Reunion Giving for the VMI Foundation, the attending Class Agents were hosted to a luncheon and then departed.

“Although these Class Agent Conferences are short in duration, about one day in total, the Class Agents receive a lot of information that they tell us is critical to them in their work,” said Colonel Webb. “What they learn about the current state of VMI from the Superintendent and the high quality of both our current cadets and those who aspire to become cadets, they can take to their Brother Rats and make the case for coming closer to VMI and supporting it many ways.”

When asked about the Class Agents’ reaction to the conference as a whole, Colonel Webb said, “Just being back on Post rejuvenates them, and, during their time here, they see first-hand the progress VMI is making. So, they come away with a lot of confidence in the Institute.”

“Finally,” concluded Colonel Webb, “they also appreciate the opportunity to talk to other Class Agents. In those conversations they can learn from their colleagues how to meet the challenges associated with their position, such as dealing with concerned Brother Rats and fielding innumerable questions about VMI, the VMI Alumni Agencies, and Annual Giving. All in all, it is a great experience for everyone who attends and, just as important, for everyone on Post who gets to work with these dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers.”