Positive Outlook Shapes VMI Board of Visitors Meeting

LEXINGTON, Va., Sept. 14, 2023—The Virginia Military Institute Board of Visitors began the 2023-24 academic year with a series of meetings providing updates in a number of areas key to the future of the Institute. 

“It was clear from the information provided this week, there’s a lot of great work being done at VMI right now,” said Thomas R. Watjen ’76, president of the VMI Board of Visitors. “From admissions to academics to finances, it’s clear that VMI’s unique educational experience is well-positioned to continue to deliver leaders of character to the commonwealth and the nation.” 

The board had in-depth discussions on many topics important to the Institute. 

Admissions: 491 rats matriculated on Aug. 19, 2023, surpassing the goal of 450 matriculants for the 2023-24 academic year and returning the size of the Rat Mass to historic norms. The Class of 2024+3 compares well to previous classes posting an average 3.61 high school grade point average. 57% of matriculants are Virginians while 43% come from out of state including 38 states, the District of Columbia, and seven countries. 85% of matriculants were male and 15% female

VMI has joined the Common App for the 2023-24 admissions cycle. To date, VMI’s admissions funnel (prospects interested in VMI), applications started, and applications completed are already tracking well ahead of previous years. Recruitment goals for future years include 495 for fall 2024, 515 for fall 2025, 525 for fall 2026, and 550 for fall 2027. Admissions staff with partners around post, alumni, and parents continue to attend new cadet recruitment events to build interest in VMI. 

Financial Aid: In an effort to attract more applicants with three- and four-year ROTC scholarships, VMI offered “Call to Duty” scholarships to cover qualified applicants’ room and board. 262 individuals applied for the scholarships. 125 were deemed qualified. 81 Call to Duty scholarships were awarded. 53% of awardees are out-of-state cadets. 

While VMI has always attracted many cadets with ROTC scholarships, the Call to Duty scholarships helped to greatly increase the number of cadets with ROTC scholarships year over year. In fact, several cadets changed their decision to attend other senior military colleges and federal service academies in favor of VMI.  

Budget: After reporting a possible a budget shortfall at the April board meeting, VMI finished the fiscal year with an $882,000 budget surplus. Higher than budgeted enrollment, increased private support, and coordinated and targeted savings helped the Institute to finish the fiscal year strong. The smaller than usual Aug. 2022 matriculating class will continue to have an adverse effect on the VMI budget over the next three years, however, the 2022-23 budget performance has left the Institute in a much stronger position moving forward. 

Cadet Newspaper: The Board of Visitors Executive Committee discussed the Institute’s relationship with the newspaper. Efforts are under way to address concerns expressed by the newspaper’s publisher about the Institute’s involvement with recent awards from the Virginia Press Association. The superintendent and dean of the faculty have begun a dialogue with cadet editors on building a productive relationship moving forward. 

Strategic Plan: The VMI Board of Visitors reviewed a new strategic plan that will chart the course for the Institute over the next 10 years. Board members had a healthy discussion about a number of objectives contained in the draft plan. 

“Forging 21st Century Leaders” establishes five initiatives that will deliver on the Institute’s unique and vital mission and vision. The five initiatives include: 

  • Prepare exceptional leaders; 
  • Strengthen academic excellence; 
  • Foster esprit de corps; 
  • Recruit top cadets and boost success; and 
  • Deliver 21st century infrastructure. 

“The ‘Forging 21st Century Leaders’ draft strategic plan is a solid start to creating a roadmap for the future of the Institute. The plan in its current form remains true to VMI’s values and enhances the VMI experience for future classes of citizen-soldiers. I’m looking forward to the board’s suggestions to make the plan even stronger.” Watjen said.

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VMI: Forging 21st Century Leaders