VMI is a college first.
The VMI Academic Program educates cadets in a rigorous educational environment that encourages life-long learning and develops citizens of character who anticipate, respond and lead in a complex and changing world. Support of specific programming to further VMI’s mission has been provided by the Jackson-Hope Fund.
To date, four labs have been established in the Engineering Division
, and the Fund has enabled the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment in electrical and civil environmental engineering. The Fund also has made possible the hiring of two full-time faculty and part-time instructors in graphics and engineering economics, creation of an aerospace concentration
in mechanical engineering and support for cadets to participate in Mini Baja, a national competition that simulates real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges.
“The Mechanical Engineering Department
has benefitted greatly from the Jackson-Hope Fund,” said Col. Tim Hodges, head of the department. “Mechanical engineering has grown to be the largest engineering program at VMI, and the Jackson-Hope Fund has helped the Institute meet the demand by providing funding for faculty positions and programs that enhance the curriculum. The addition of new, high-quality faculty; the aerospace concentration; and the Mini Baja competition team have been instrumental in attracting talented cadets who wish to study and be part of our program.”
When the Core Curriculum was revised to add core-level science offerings in biology and physics to the existing chemistry core sequence, the Jackson-Hope Fund made possible the purchase of biology equipment needed to support this change. The Jackson-Hope contribution was essential to meeting the new academic guidelines and to accommodate a growing Corps of Cadets.
The Department of Modern Languages and Cultures
also has benefited greatly from the Fund’s support, which has enabled more cadets to study abroad and to utilize the new foreign language media center in Scott Shipp Hall.
“The Jackson-Hope Fund has allowed us to ensure continued compatibility of new and evolving language hardware and software that provides the foundation for our Language Media Center, which is vital to second language acquisition,” said Col. Kathleen Bulger-Barnett, head of the department. “In addition, the Fund has enabled several cadets to take part in the Experiential Learning Program in Morocco and the U.S. Southern Command in Miami—both experiences that have enhanced the educational opportunities provided on Post.
“Arabic enrollment continues to be strong—currently about 300 cadets take Arabic—and the Fund supports Dr. Mohamed Taifi’s position, which has been essential to the growth of the program,” she added. “Taifi is an outstanding professor who is in demand. A nominee for Virginia’s Outstanding Faculty Award, he is a strong mentor for his students, providing cross-cultural experiences for both cadets and colleagues, and he is generous with his time and attention both on Post and when he takes students abroad.”
Another initiatives supported by Jackson-Hope funding that spans all disciplines at the Virginia Military Institute is the Center for Leadership and Ethics
, which is designed to advance the understanding, practice and integration of leadership and character development at the Institute. The programs of the Center combined with the academic focus of VMI’s leadership minor offer cadets a base of knowledge about leadership and its effective application. These interdisciplinary programs are offered in part by full-time faculty secured with Jackson-Hope funding.
The Center for Molecular, Cellular and Biological Chemistry (CMCBC)
was established at VMI with Jackson-Hope funds in 2001, and it has brought to the Institute modernized laboratory facilities and two new faculty members with expertise in molecular biology and biochemistry. According to Col. Jim Turner, head of the Biology Department and center director, the impact of the Center has been remarkable, including an increase in cadet undergraduate research projects in these disciplines; a concentration in biochemistry and molecular biology with new course offerings in these cutting edge fields; and a steady stream of graduating cadets being accepted into medical school or associated programs.
In addition, the formation of the CMCBC has allowed its faculty to successfully collaborate on research projects with students that resulted recently in the awarding of a $200,000 research grant from the Commonwealth Health Research Board which supports five investigators and five students for two years.