Post Briefs, May 2023

Professors on With Good Reason

Lt. Col. Mark Boonshoft and Lt. Col. Jochen Arndt, both associate professors in the history department; Lt. Col. Julie Phillips Brown, associate professor in English, rhetoric, and humanistic studies; as well as Col. Barry Cobb and Col. Jeff Smith, professors in economics and business, have been featured on the public radio program With Good Reason during the spring semester. On the show “Save the Small Sums,” Boonshoft discusses literacy tests that denied many African Americans the right to vote during Jim Crow. Arndt discussed the complex histories of the Zulu and Xhosa peoples of South Africa, including the violent clashes between them in the 1990s on the show “Dividing Lines.” Brown was featured in the “Writing Through” episode and highlighted themes of biology, mythology, and motherhood in her poetry. The episode titled “Aging Well” features Cobb and Smith providing guidance on paying for retirement and the best age to start drawing Social Security. Audio files of full programs and companion news features are on the With Good Reason website.

VMI Wins First SMC Ethics Bowl

VMI walked away with the trophy and a cash prize at the first Senior Military College Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl hosted virtually by the University of North Georgia March 25, after only a few short weeks to prepare as a team. Kyle Dargis ’24, Benjamin May ’24, Aaron Metz ’25, and Luke Rose ’24 presented arguments on whether combat soldiers should be required to take performance-enhancing drugs. They also discussed emerging technologies and how they are affecting the future of warfare, arguing whether or not decision makers should make use of FICINT (fiction plus intelligence). The VMI team was coached by Dr. Reshef AgamSegal, associate professor of English, rhetoric, and humanistic studies, and Cmdr. Julie Shank, operations, plans, and training in the commandant’s office.

English Honor Society Inducts New Members

On April 17, the Department of English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies (ERHS) inducted nine English majors as members of VMI’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English honor society: Joshua Cheung ’24, Kolton Dobson ’23, Declan Franklin ’23, William Garbett ’24, Brayden Jones ’24, Joseph Kane ’25, Michael Lawrence ’23, Brian Pritchard ’25, and Gretal Shank ’25. Current members, ERHS faculty, and 4th Class English majors gathered to celebrate the inductees’ academic achievements. Kaylee Brennan ’23, president, and Rachel Mininger ’23, vice president, presided over the induction. Lt. Col. Steve Knepper is the chapter’s faculty adviser. VMI’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta has a tradition in which each inductee recites a poem at the ceremony. This year featured recitations of new members’ original poems as well as poems by Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, and others. Lt. Col. Catharine Ingersoll gave the opening remarks at the ceremony.

Cadets Compete Well in Sanremo

A team of cadets enjoyed success when they traveled to Sanremo, Italy, in late March to participate in the annual International Competition on the Law of Armed Conflict. The competition draws cadets from military academies all over the world and is hosted by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law. This year, 76 cadets competed from 16 different nations. Members of this year’s team were Ridge Clark ’23, Fatoumata Diallo ’23, Cassidy Dufour ’23, Katie Lloyd ’23, Brandon Marks ’23, and Justin Miller ’23. The cadets worked in mixed teams alongside those from other academies to advise on the law pertaining to a fictional conflict scenario. The cadets spent several months prior to the trip becoming experts in humanitarian law, under the guidance of Maj. Tim Passmore, assistant professor of international studies. VMI walked away with three awards, the most it has ever won. Dufour, an international studies major, won 2nd place overall in the individual category, while Miller won 4th place. Dufour also won 2nd place in the team category for her work alongside cadets from the German Air Force and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Passport Grant Makes Global Learning More Accessible

VMI has been selected by the Institute of International Education (IIE) to receive an IIE American Passport Project grant that will enable up to 25 cadets to obtain a U.S. passport and support their study abroad journeys. IIE is removing an initial financial barrier for many—the cost of a U.S. passport; thereby, helping to increase diversity and inclusion of students studying abroad. In addition, the grant is intended to support the IIE network, IIE’s global membership association, in assisting students from their respective campuses to go abroad, who would otherwise not participate in an international experience as part of their college education. The program prioritizes first-year students with limited financial means, for whom this may be their first passport, and makes global learning abroad a greater possibility with an earlier start. VMI is one of 48 grantees.

Cyber Research Collaboration Helping Dairy Farmers

A collaboration of farmers, along with experts in computer science, agriculture, and cybersecurity is bringing VMI cadets and graduate students from Virginia Tech on board to improve the cybersecurity infrastructure and workforce development on dairy farms. The efforts are supported by the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative in Southwest Virginia. With agriculture being a very large private industry, it faces similar risks to large corporate organizations when it comes to the technology that collects data and automates the processes. By creating training tools and safety features for dairy farmers, this research team can help prevent supply chain issues or other significant economic impacts for the farms.

VMI: Forging 21st Century Leaders