Virginia Military Institute's Promise

Society will always need educated and honorable men and women. And men and women will always need to lead lives of meaning and usefulness to others.

The Virginia Military Institute produces leaders and individuals whose daily lives reflect the integrity, fairness, and appreciation for the value of hard work that is instilled at the Institute. Our mission is alive in each cadet from the youngest rat to the first captain. Their pursuits - marked by words such as Honor, Character, and Wisdom - may seem romantic, even archaic, but they are, in fact, timeless and never needed more than now. As a premiere public liberal arts college, VMI provides qualified young men and women an undergraduate education of the highest quality conducted in, and facilitated by, the unique VMI system of military discipline.

Portrait of Maj Gen Cedric Wins '85

The beauty of VMI is that opportunity is available to a lot of kids who grew up like me. In my view, more than ever, the Commonwealth and the nation needs a place where young men and women from all different backgrounds can prepare themselves, challenge themselves, educate themselves, to learn about who they are, and get ready to go out into the world and do great things. That is why VMI exists.

 


A Brighter Future: VMI Reaffirms Its Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The experience at the Virginia Military Institute is like no other. It is designed to be very different for a reason. For those individuals willing to truly challenge themselves, VMI promises to mold them into leaders our nation values and needs. We have a rich history and incredible story to share, and we hope you will take the time to learn what makes VMI so unique, including the critical role of the VMI Rat Line in forming the bond between cadets in each VMI class.

Recently, our Institute has been called into question because of accusations of racism and sexual misconduct. VMI is a microcosm of society and not immune to the challenges of racism and sexual misconduct which occur on college campuses across the nation. But let us be clear – it is not our goal to be on par with statistics like these. Racism and sexual misconduct in any form will never be tolerated at VMI and we intend to be a model for the nation in addressing these issues.

Regarding the Commonwealth's Investigation

There are some who have made allegations that institutional racism is prevalent at VMI, but the facts simply do not support that position. Like many college campuses, we too have had incidences where racial slurs and racist acts have been perpetrated. That is not an experience that any of our cadets should have to endure, and we have taken action to address that concern. According to a 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, VMI has implemented systems and training programs to properly address those issues, many of which are highlighted below.

It cannot be overstated – sexual harassment or sexual assault is not and will never be tolerated at this institution. Perhaps what pains us most is hearing some cadets and alumni say that they were apprehensive to bring issues forward out of fear of reprisal. No cadet should ever feel the administration, faculty, or staff at VMI are not here for them. Addressing these issues is of paramount importance.


VMI is Evolving

It’s important to note that VMI has initiated significant measures to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. These efforts foster a supportive culture for all members of the Institute’s community and include hiring a new chief diversity officer. This work has been ongoing for many years. Below are brief examples of progress to date. Further information about the Institute as well as its progress and plans for future action to continue our evolution can be found in:

 

Expanded Enrollment of Cadets of Color and Under-Represented Populations

  • Between 1992 and 2020, VMI has increased the enrollment of cadets of color from 12.7% to 23.4% of each class.
  • Total enrollment of Under-Represented Populations increased from 29% in 2014 to 35% in 2020.

Cadet Ariana Ruffin ’21

What brought me to VMI was the promise to come out a better person than when I came in. I wanted to attend a school that had smaller class sizes and faculty that would be more than willing to assist me throughout my cadetship. I also wanted to attend a school where I could make an immediate impact, in the classroom and on the track. The value that a VMI degree has and the strong alumni foundation were definitely the deciding factors for me in the end.

 

Recruitment and Improved Retention of Female Cadets

  • Between 2009 and 2018, VMI has improved its six-year graduation rates for female cadets from 65% to 79%.
  • Female cadets make up approximately 12-15% of each incoming class, with a high of 17% in 2018.

Cadet Ching-Wen Yang ’21, Taiwan

When I'm here, they don't see you as female or male. Some people do feel that way, but not for me. They see your ability: if you can do it, you get the job. That's why I applied for cadre every year, and I got cadre every year. I'm the only female in my company as a cadre. They don't really choose you because you are female, but because you're good at it. I hope I can bring that back home, because we don't have that concept.

 

Enhanced Racial Sensitivity Training for Cadets, Faculty, and Staff

  • A cadet-led Cultural Awareness Training program is in development. The goal of this training is to enhance the Corps of Cadets’ understanding of cultural differences amongst members of the Corps and to promote civility and respect.
  • Resources used in this program development include input from VMI alumni, the U.S. Department of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, the VMI Alumni Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and ongoing focus groups with cadets, faculty and cadet leadership.

Cadet Jordan Ward ’21

As a leader and as a person, I've learned how to interact with individuals of different backgrounds, upbringings, and personalities. I understand now that one style of communication does not work with each person. It requires trial and error, as well as learning how to adapt in order to be successful.

 

Addressing the Role of General Stonewall Jackson on Post


Where do we go from here?

VMI recognizes that we must evolve if we want to reach our goal of becoming a model for the Commonwealth and the nation. As outlined, some of those changes are already in progress, but we will continue to make improvements.   

To that end, we recommit to the following Five Priorities for VMI first outlined by Maj. Gen. Wins '85:

  • Honor. The VMI Honor Code must continue to be a way of life for each and every cadet and all alumni.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. VMI must ensure that every cadet, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or nationality, feels a part of the VMI legacy.
  • The VMI Brand. The outward face of VMI should be built around young leaders of character who exemplify honor, civility, and service above self.
  • Competing and Winning. VMI cadets must compete to win in the classroom, on the drill field, and on the field of competition.
  • One VMI. VMI’s strength is in its diversity of experiences, thought, abilities, and backgrounds. No single cadet’s challenge is greater than another’s. It is through the reliance on their fellow cadets that the Corps succeeds.
 

VMI graduates are recognized consistently for their honor, dependability, work ethic and dedication to duty in public service as well as private industry. We are undeterred in our mission.

To those cadets and alumni who brought forth concerns about racism and sexual misconduct, know that your contributions will make a difference. We appreciate the part you play in making these important changes happen.

Together, we will make VMI even stronger.  

 

Cadets and text VMI: A common purpose, a connected corps, a college for ALL aspiring leaders