Virginia Military Institute

Virginia Military Institute

Infobox University
name = Virginia Military Institute
native_name =

image_size = 125px
caption = Seal of the Virginia Military Institute
latin_name =
motto = Consilio et Animis
mottoeng = By wisdom and courage
established = 11 November 1839
closed =
type = Senior Military College (Public military college)
affiliation =
endowment = US$394,848,000 [PDF| [ "2008 National Association of College and University Business Officers"] |2.76 MB]
officer_in_charge =
chairman = Thomas G. Slater, Jr (President of Board of Visitors)
chancellor =
president =
vice-president =
superintendent = J. H. Binford Peay III
provost = Col. William J. Stockwell (Acting, 2008-2009)
vice_chancellor =
rector =
principal =
dean = Col. William J. Stockwell (Acting, 2008-2009)
director =
head_label = Commandant
head = Thomas Trumps, Colonel, US Army (Retired)
faculty = 145
staff =
students = 1,378 [ [ Fall Headcount Enrollment ] ]
undergrad = 1,378
postgrad =
doctoral =
other =
city = Lexington
state = Virginia
province =
country = US
coor = coord|37.790278|-79.438611|display=inline|type:edu
campus = Urban, 134 acres (54.22 ha)
former_names =
free_label = Accreditation and Curriculum Approval
free = Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, American Chemical Society, and Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology
sports = Baseball, Basketball, Men's Cross Country, Women's Cross Country, Football, Lacrosse, Rifle, Men's Soccer, Women's Soccer, Men's Swimming & Diving, Women's Swimming & Diving, Men's Track & Field, Women's Track & Field, Wrestling
colors = Red, White, and Yellow

colours =
nickname = Keydets
mascot = Moe the Kangaroo
athletics = NCAA Division I, Football Championship Subdivision, Big South Conference
affiliations = American Council on Education, Association of American Colleges and Universities, College Board, and Association of Virginia Colleges
website =

footnotes =
The Virginia Military Institute (VMI), located in Lexington, Virginia, is the oldest state-supported military college and one of six senior military colleges in the United States. [ [ VMI Web site] ] Unlike any other state military college in the United States, all VMI students are military cadets. VMI offers cadets a spartan, physically demanding environment combined with strict military discipline. VMI offers bachelor's degrees in 14 disciplines in the fields of engineering, science, and the liberal arts.

Although VMI has been called the "West Point of the South," [ [ Women in the Barracks] ] it differs from the federal service academies in several respects. For example, while all VMI cadets must participate in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), they are not required to serve in the military upon graduation, while graduates of the service academies must serve. VMI cadets may either accept a commission in any of the US military branches or pursue civilian endeavors upon graduation. VMI's Mission Statement:

It is the mission of the Virginia Military Institute to produce educated and honorable men and women, prepared for the varied work of civil life, imbued with love of learning, confident in the functions and attitudes of leadership, possessing a high sense of public service, advocates of the American Democracy and free enterprise system, and ready as citizen-soldiers to defend their country in time of national peril.


Early history

On November 11 1839 the Virginia Military Institute was founded on the site of the Lexington state arsenal, and the first Cadets relieved personnel on duty. Under Major General Francis Henney Smith, superintendent, and Colonel Claudius Crozet, president of the Board of Visitors, the Corps was imbued with the discipline and the spirit for which it is famous. The first cadet to march a sentinel post was Private John Strange in 1839. Except during the Civil War, there have been sentinels posted at VMI twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, during the school year, since Strange's posting nearly 170 years ago.

The class of 1842 graduated 16 cadets. Living conditions were poor until 1850 when the cornerstone of the new barracks was laid. In 1851 Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson became a member of the faculty and professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy. Under then-Major Jackson and Major William Gilham, VMI infantry and artillery units were present at the execution by hanging of John Brown at Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1859.

Civil War period

The Institute played a valuable part in the training of the Southern armies as well as participating in actual battle. VMI cadets were called into active military service on 14 different occasions during the American Civil War and many cadets, under the leadership of General Stonewall Jackson, were sent to Camp Lee, at Richmond, to train recruits. VMI alumni were regarded among the best officers of the South and several distinguished themselves in the Union forces as well. Fifteen graduates rose to the rank of general in the Confederate Army. [ [] VMI Archives] At the Battle of Chancellorsville, Stonewall Jackson was reported to say, "The Institute will be heard from today," commenting on the leadership provided by VMI alumni during the battle.

On May 15 1864 VMI cadets fought as an independent unit at the Battle of New Market. [ [] VMI Museum web site] The cadets who fought that day ranged in age from 14 to 22, though through the years claims of cadets as young as 12 fighting have been made. [] General John C. Breckinridge, the commanding Southern general, held the cadets in reserve and did not use them until Union troops broke through the Confederate lines. Upon seeing the tide of battle turning in favor of the Union forces, Breckinridge stated, "Put the boys in...and may God forgive me for the order." The VMI cadets held the line and eventually pushed forward, capturing a Union artillery emplacement, securing victory for the Confederates. The Union troops were withdrawn and Confederate troops under General Breckinridge held the Shenandoah Valley. VMI suffered fifty-two casualties with ten cadets killed in action and forty-two wounded. The cadets were led into battle by Commandant of Cadets and future VMI Superintendent Colonel Scott Shipp. Shipp was also wounded during the battle. Six of the ten fallen cadets are buried on VMI grounds behind the statue, "Virginia Mourning Her Dead" by sculptor Moses Ezekiel, a VMI graduate who was also injured in the Battle of New Market.

On June 12 1864 Union forces under the command of General David Hunter shelled and burned the Institute as part of the Valley Campaigns of 1864. The destruction was almost complete and VMI had to temporarily hold classes at the Alms House in Richmond, Virginia. In April 1865 Richmond was evacuated due to the impending fall of Petersburg and the VMI Corps of Cadets was disbanded. The Lexington campus reopened for classes on October 17 1865. [ [] VMI Archives] One of the reasons that Confederate General Jubal A. Early burned the town of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania was in retaliation for the shelling of VMI. [ [ The Burning of Chambersburg ] ] Following the war, Matthew Fontaine Maury, the pioneering oceanographer known as the "Pathfinder of the Seas", accepted a teaching position at VMI, holding the physics chair.

World War II

During World War II, VMI participated in the War Department's Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP_ from 1943 to 1946. The program provided training in engineering and related subjects to enlisted men at colleges across the United States. Over 2,100 ASTP members studied at VMI during the war.


Since 1839, VMI has had fourteen superintendents. Francis H. Smith was the first and the longest serving, filling the position for 50 years. Only three of the fourteen superintendents were not graduates of VMI.

#Francis H. Smith (1839-1889)
#Scott Shipp (1890-1907) [ [ VMI Website: VMI Superintendents, 1839-present] ]
#Edward W. Nichols (1907-1924)
#William H. Cocke (1924-1929)
#John A. Lejeune (1929-1937) [Also a Commandant of the Marine Corps]
#Charles E. Kilbourne (1937-1946) [Medal of Honor recipient and the first American to earn all three of the United States' highest military decorations.]
#Richard J. Marshall (1946-1952)
#William H. Milton, Jr. (1952-1960)
#George R. E. Shell (1960-1971)
#Richard L. Irby (1971-1981)
#Sam S. Walker (1981-1988)
#John W. Knapp (1989-1995)
#Josiah Bunting III (1995-2002)
#J. H. Binford Peay III (2003-present)


The VMI campus covers 134 acres, 12 of which are designated as the Virginia Military Institute Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The campus is referred to as the "Post." All cadets are housed on campus in a large five-story building, called the "barracks." The Old Barracks, which has been designated a National Historic Landmark, stands on the site of the old arsenal. The new wing of the barracks ("New Barracks") was completed in 1949. The two wings surround two quadrangles connected by a sally port. All rooms open onto porch-like stoops facing one of the quadrangles. A third barracks wing is under construction on the site of the former visitor's center. The four arched entries into the barracks are named for George Washington, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, George Marshall and Jonathan Daniels. Next to the Barracks are offices and meeting areas for VMI clubs and organizations, the cadet visitors center and lounge, a snack bar, and a Barnes & Noble-operated bookstore.

VMI's campus continued with construction due to the "Vision 2039" program. Under this capital campaign, VMI's alumni and supporters raised over $275 million over three years. The Barracks are being expanded to house 1,500 cadets, all academic buildings are being renovated and modernized, and VMI is spending an additional $200 million to build the VMI Center for Leadership and Ethics. The new Leadership Center will be used by VMI cadets, Washington and Lee University students, and other students throughout the country and abroad to develop leadership abilities combined with a focus on integrity and honor to benefit tomorrow's world. The Center will also be home to VMI's Distinguished Speaker Series and its Leadership Symposia. The funding will also support "study abroad" programs including joint ventures with Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England and many other universities.

Academic programs

VMI's academic programs are grouped into four areas: Engineering, [ The Engineering department has concentrations in three areas: Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. [ VMI web site] Two recent Chiefs of Engineers of the Army Corps of Engineers, Carl A. Strock and Robert B. Flowers, were VMI Engineering graduate. [ VMI web site] ] Liberal Arts, Science, and Leadership. Within those departments, it offers 14 major and 22 minor areas of study, [ [ VMI web site] ] with the majority of classes are taught by full-time professors, 96 percent of whom hold Ph.D.s. [ [ VMI web site] ] Within four months of graduation, an average of 97 percent of VMI graduates are either serving in the military, employed, or admitted to graduate or professional schools. [ [ VMI web site] ] VMI has graduated more Rhodes Scholars than all the other state military colleges in the US combined, graduating ten Rhodes Scholars since 1921. [ [ Listing of VMI Rhodes Scholars on VMI website] ] [ [ Texas A&M Rhodes Scholars] ] In 2007, VMI had two Rhodes Scholarship finalists and one Marshall Scholarship finalist. [ [ VMI web site] ]



For 2009 VMI ranked third, after the United States Naval Academy and the
United States Military Academy, in the "US News and World Report" rankings of the 27 public liberal arts colleges in the United States. [ [ VMI retains U.S. News' rank as No. 3] ] Compared to the top US liberal arts colleges, public and private, it ranked 71st out of 122 (including ties) in the top tier of schools. [ [ Best Colleges 2009: Liberal Arts Rankings] ]

Also for 2009, "US News" ranked VMI's Civil Engineering program seventh [ [ Best Colleges 2009: Best Colleges Specialty Rankings: Undergraduate engineering specialties: Civil] ] , its Mechanical Engineering program 14th [ [ Best Colleges 2009: Premium Online Edition: Best Colleges Specialty Rankings: Undergraduate engineering specialties: Mechanical] ] , and its overall Engineering program improved from 25th in the United States in 2008 to 21st out of 105 in the 2009 category of "Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (where doctorate is not offered)." [ [ Mercer Ranked Among Top 10 Schools in the South for 10th Consecutive Year] ] [ [ Best Colleges 2009: Premium Online Edition: Best Colleges Specialty Rankings: Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs] ] In the newly-added 2009 category of "High School Counselor Rankings of Liberal Arts Colleges," VMI is ranked 57th of 266. [ [ Best Colleges 2009: Premium Online Edition: Best Colleges: High School Counselor Rankings of Liberal Arts Colleges] ]

Forbes' 2008 Special Report on America's Best Colleges ranked VMI in the top 10 Public Universities in the Nation, well ahead of any other Senior Military College in the country. VMI was ranked 9th in the "Top 25 Publics" section, just behind the United States Military Academy, the Air Force Academy, and the Naval Academy, but ahead of such schools as UCLA, the University of Michigan, the University of Florida, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. [] Overall, VMI ranked 108th out of the 569 colleges and universities evaluated. []

VMI was the only state military college in the country named a "College of Distinction" in 2007 by Student Horizons, Inc. [ [ Student Horizons Colleges of Distinction web site] ] Kiplinger's magazine, in its ranking of the "Best Values in Public Colleges" for 2006, made mention of the Virginia Military Institute as a "great value", although the military nature of its program excluded it from consideration as a traditional four-year college in the rankings. [Lankford, Kimberly (2006). [ Best Values in Public Colleges] . "Kiplinger's".]

Alumni giving

VMI is known for the financial support of its alumni — in a 1999 study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers, VMI's $280 million endowment at the time was the largest per-student endowment of any public undergraduate college in the United States. [ [ VMI Athletics and the VMI Keydet Club Website] ] As of December 2007, VMI's endowment of $394,848,000 is the largest per-capita endowment of any public college in the United States. [ [ NACUBO Study] ] 36.2 percent of the approximately 12,500 living alumni gave in 2007. [] Private support constitutes more than 31 percent VMI's operating budget, as compared with 26 percent from state funds.


Of the 1251 students enrolled in 2005, 66 were African-American, 39 were Asian, 34 were Hispanic and 71 were women. Fact|date=March 2008 Of 446 students that matriculated in August 2008, 39 were women. [ [ 446 Matriculate at VMI] ] The first Jewish cadet, Moses Jacob Ezekiel, graduated in 1866. While at VMI, Ezekiel fought with the VMI cadets at the Battle of New Market. He became a sculptor and his works are on display at VMI. One of the first Asian cadets was Sun Li-jen, the Chinese National Revolutionary Army general, who graduated in 1927. The first African-American cadets were admitted in 1968. The first African-American regimental commander was Derren McDew, class of 1982. McDew is currently a US Air Force brigadier general and vice-commander of the Eighteenth Air Force at Scott Air Force Base. It is unknown when the first Muslim cadet graduated from VMI, but in 1985 the first Iranian cadet graduated. Before the Iranian Revolution, under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, several Persian cadets attended and graduated from VMI.

VMI has traditionally enrolled cadets from the armed forces of Thailand and the Republic of China (Taiwan). Graduates have gone on to pursue graduate degrees after VMI at prestigious universities throughout the United States before returning to their countries to continue their military service. Several graduates reached general and flag officer ranks. During the 1990s many other nations were represented in the Corps of Cadets, including Great Britain, Bangladesh, Finland, Botswana, Germany, Kenya, South Korea, and Japan. Michael Lokale of Kenya was chosen as VMI's tenth Rhodes Scholar in 2003.

Admission of women

VMI was the last US military college to admit women. VMI excluded women from the Corps of Cadets until 1997. In 1990 the US Department of Justice filed a discrimination lawsuit against VMI for its all-male admissions policy. While the court challenge was pending, a state-sponsored Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership (VWIL) was opened at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia, as a parallel program for women. The VWIL continued, even after VMI's admission of women. [Cabe, Crista (1 March 2005). [ "MBC Celebrates VWIL's 10th Anniversary March 18, 2004"] . Mary Baldwin College web site.]

After VMI won its case in US District Court, the case went through several appeals until June 26 1996, when the US Supreme Court, in a 7-1 decision in "United States v. Virginia", found that it was unconstitutional for a school supported by public funds to exclude women. (Justice Clarence Thomas recused himself because his son was attending VMI at the time.) Following the ruling, VMI contemplated going private to exempt itself from the 14th Amendment, and thus avoid the ruling.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Frederick F.Y. Pang, however, warned the school that the Department of Defense would withdraw ROTC programs from the school if privatization took place. As a result of this action by Pang, Congress passed a resolution on November 18 1997 prohibiting the Department of Defense from withdrawing or diminishing any ROTC program at one of the six senior military colleges, including VMI. This escape clause provided by Congress came after the VMI Board of Visitors had already voted 8-7 to admit women and the decision was not revisited.

In August 1997, VMI enrolled its first female cadets, 30 women who were held to the same strict physical courses and technical training as the male cadets. VMI resisted following other military colleges in adopting "gender-normed" physical training standards. [ [ showcontent ] ] However, gender norming became a goal of VMI in its 2039 Strategic Plan; [ [ VMI Operational Plans and Progress Report 2008] Strategy 1-13] and on June 30, 2008, gender normed standards were implemented for all female cadets. [ showcontent ] ] Female Rats are required to maintain a short haircut of approximately four inches or less and are forbidden to wear makeup or jewelry.

Student life

Both academically and physically, daily life at VMI is highly demanding. VMI is an extremely traditional and old-fashioned military college. Today, as nearly 200 years ago, cadets at VMI sleep on cots for their entire cadetship. Additionally, televisions, posters, and civilian clothes are never allowed in cadets' rooms. VMI cadets wear uniforms every day and eat their meals together in a mess hall. In many ways, life at VMI today is little changed from life at VMI in 1839.

Potential students must be between 16 to 22 years of age. They must be unmarried, physically fit for enrollment in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and be graduates of an accredited secondary school or have completed an approved homeschool curriculum. New cadets at VMI have an average SAT score of nearly 1200 and an average high school GPA of 3.39. [ [] ]

Eligibility is not restricted to Virginia residents, although it is more difficult to gain an appointment as a non-resident, as VMI has a goal that no more than 45 percent of cadets come from outside Virginia. [ [ Untitled Page ] ] VMI has graduated students from across the US and from many other countries. Virginia residents receive a discount in tuition, as is common at most state-sponsored schools. Total tuition, room & board and other fees for the 2008-2009 school year is approximately $17,000 for Virginia residents and $34,000 for all others. [ [ Financial Aid: Tuition and Fees: 2008-2009] ] These fees can be misleading, because VMI's endowment enables VMI to meet a substantial amount of a cadets's financial need before the cadet needs loans.


The new cadet, known as a "Rat", walks a prescribed line in barracks while in an exaggerated, painful form of attention known as "straining". The Rat experience, called the Ratline, is among the toughest and most grueling initiation programs in the country. It is best described as a longer version of the Marine Corps boot camp combined with rigorous academics. The ratline is intended to instill pride, discipline, brotherhood, and a sense of honor in the students. A Rat faces many physical and mental challenges and must memorize rules, school songs, and facts about the school and its history. After having their heads shaved bald (or cut very short for female cadets so that their ears show), the Rats undergo their first week "Hell Week" in a long year of intense military and physical training. The initial week is a crash course in everything VMI: how to wear every uniform, how to march, how to clean an M-14 rifle, etc.

Once the first week is complete, life continues to get tougher as Rats await the arrival of the returning students, the "Old Corps". Each Rat is paired with a first classman (senior) who serves as a mentor for the rest of the first year. This pairing is integral to cadet life at VMI. The first classman is called a "Dyke", reference to an older phrase "to dyke out", or to get into a uniform. This arose from a pair of cadets helping each other get into the full parade dress uniform, which includes white pants or ducks, a full dress coatee, belt and leather cartridge box, a military dress shako, and several large web belts, or "cross dykes", that are extremely difficult to don alone, along with a school-issued M-14 rifle. Cadet officers and noncommissioned officers have the privilege of bearing a sash and sabre, while the Institute's regimental band carries instruments for parades and formal functions. During the freshman year, Rats continue to undergo training from the most highly skilled cadets at VMI, known as "the Cadre". The Cadre enforces all rules as the Rats live a life of "sweat parties", early morning runs, late night runs, and countless push-ups. It is hoped they will learn to think under pressure and focus on a team approach to solving challenges.

The Ratline experience culminates with Resurrection Week ending in "Breakout." An event during the second semester where the Rats are formally welcomed to the VMI community. After break out, rats are officially fourth class students and no longer have to strain in the barracks or eat "square meals" at attention. Many versions of the Breakout ceremony have been conducted. In the 1950s Rats from each company would be packed into a corner room in the barracks and brawl their way out through the upperclassmen. From the late 1960s through the early 1980s the Rats had to fight their way up to the fourth level of the barracks through three other classes of cadets determined not to let them get to the top. The stoops would often be slick with motor oil, packed with snow, glazed with ice, greased, or continuously hosed with water. The barracks stairs and rails were not able to take the abuse, so the Corps moved the breakout to a muddy hill where Rats attempt to climb to the top by crawling on their stomachs while the upper classes block them or drag them back down. As of 2004 the Rats no longer breakout in the mud but instead participate in a grueling day of physical activity testing both physical endurance and team work. [ [ VMI: Class of 2010 Breaks Out of Rat Status ] ]

The entire body of Rats during the Ratline is called a "Rat mass." Since the Rats of the Rat mass are not officially fourth class students until Breakout, the Rat mass is also not officially considered a graduating class until that time either. Prior to Breakout, the Rat mass is given a different style of year identifier to emphasize this difference. The year identifier starts with the year of the anticipated Breakout followed by a "+3" to indicate the anticipated year of graduation. For example, rats which will make up the prospective Class of 2012 would be considered to be in the "Rat mass of 2009+3" as the Breakout of that particular Ratmass is expected in 2009 and the anticipated graduation date is three years after that. [ [ New Cadet Handbook: 2008 - 2009] , p. 16.]


In addition to the Ratline, VMI has other traditions that are emblematic of the school and its history including the new cadet oath ceremony, the pagentry of close-order marching, and the nightly playing of "Taps". An event second only to graduation in importance is the "Ring Figure" dance held every November. During their junior year, cadets receive class rings at a ring presentation ceremony followed by a formal dance. [ [] VMI Web site] The rings, which are one of the largest college rings in America, are often referred to as "nuggets of gold". Most cadets get two rings, a formal ring and a combat ring; some choose to have the combat ring for everyday wear, and the formal for special occasions.Fact|date=February 2007

Every year, VMI honors its fallen cadets with a New Market Day parade and ceremony. During this ceremony, roll is called for cadets who "died on the Field of Honor" and wreaths are placed on the graves of those who died during the Battle of New Market. The requirement that all cadets eat in the mess hall was the basis for a lawsuit in 2002 when two cadets sued VMI over the prayer said before dinner. The non-denominational prayer had been a daily fixture since the 1950s. [] [ [ ACLU Defends Prayer Ban at VMI ] ] [ [ Supreme Court justices in sharp exchange over refusal to hear VMI prayer case ] ] In 2002 the Fourth Circuit ruled the prayer, during an event with mandatory attendance, at a state-funded school, violated the US Constitution. When the Supreme Court declined to review the school's appeal in April 2004, the prayer tradition was stopped. [ [ Untitled Page ] ]

Honor System

VMI is known for its strict Honor System. Under the VMI Honor Code, "a cadet does not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do." [ Untitled Page ] ] There is only one punishment for violating the Honor Code: immediate expulsion in the form of a "drumming out" ceremony. VMI maintains the last "single sanction" honor code among the military academies in the United States.Fact|date=May 2008

Clubs and activities

VMI currently offers over 50 school-sponsored clubs and organizations, including recreational activities, military organizations, musical and performance groups, religious organizations and service groups. [ [ VMI: Clubs and Organizations ] ] [ [ VMI: Academic and Professional Societies ] ] Although VMI prohibited cadet membership in fraternal organizations starting in 1885, VMI cadets were instrumental in starting several fraternities. Alpha Tau Omega fraternity was founded by VMI cadets Otis Allen Glazebrook, Alfred Marshall, and Erskine Mayo Ross at Richmond, Virginia on September 11 1865 while the school was closed for reconstruction.

After the re-opening, Kappa Sigma Kappa fraternity was founded by cadets on September 28 1867 and Sigma Nu fraternity was founded by cadets on January 1 1869. VMI cadets formed the second chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity. [ [ Our Kappa Alpha Heritage ] ] In a special arrangement, graduating cadets may be nominated by Kappa Alpha Order alumni and inducted into the fraternity, becoming part of Kappa Alpha Order's Beta Commission (a commission as opposed to an active chapter). This occurs following graduation, and the newly-initiated VMI alumni are accepted as brothers of the fraternity. [ [] Dead link|date=March 2008]

Military service

The Virginia Military Institute offers ROTC programs for all four US military branches.cite web|accessdate=2008-02-04
title=Corps of Cadets Program
publisher=Office of Admissions, VMI
] While four years of ROTC is a requirement for all cadets, accepting a commission in the armed forces is optional. The VMI Board of Visitors has set a goal of having 70 percent of VMI cadets take a commission by 2015. [ [ Vision 2039 Focus on Leadership] ] The VMI class of 2008 achieved a 52.8 percent commissioning rate, up from 34 percent five years ago. Of the total of 127 cadets who commissioned in 2008, 63 commissioned in the Army, 11 commissioned in the Navy, 26 commissioned in the Marine Corps, and 27 commissioned in the Air Force. [ [ Current Institute Report ] ]

As of 2006, VMI has graduated 265 General Officers and Flag Officers, more than any other college in the United States, except for the federal service academies. [ [ The Official Website of VMI Athletics and the VMI Keydet Club ] ] [ [ Virginia Military Institute ] ] Among its most distinguished military graduates are the first five-star General of the Army, George Marshall;cite web|accessdate=2008-02-04
title=VMI Profile
] six recipients of the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government, the Medal of Honor;cite web|accessdate=2008-02-04
title="Medal of Honor"
work=VMI Alumni Accomplishments
publisher=VMI Museum
] and nine four-star generals, again, more than any other college in the United States excluding the federal service academies.

The table below lists all United States Generals (four-star) who graduated from VMI (The table does not include four-star Alumni of the Institute who attended VMI but graduated elsewhere, such as Generals Patton and Walker. Nor does the table include the many graduates of VMI who attained the rank of four star general in military service to foreign nations such as Thailand, China, and Taiwan):


VMI fields 14 teams on the NCAA Division I level (FCS, formerly I-AA, for football). Varsity sports include baseball, basketball, men's and women's cross country, football, lacrosse, rifle, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's swimming & diving, men's and women's track & field, and wrestling. VMI is a member of the Big South, the Southern (for wrestling), and the Metro Atlantic Athletic (for lacrosse) conferences. The VMI team name is the Keydets, possibly a Southern style slang for the word "cadets".

VMI has the third-smallest enrollment of any FCS football college, after Presbyterian and Wofford. [ [ The State | Homepage ] ] Approximately one-third of the Corps of Cadets plays on at least one of VMI's intercollegiate athletic teams, making it one of the most active athletic programs in the country. Of the VMI varsity athletes who complete their eligibility, 92 percent receive their VMI diplomas. [ [ VMI Athletic History - A Brief Look] (9 August 2002). VMI web site.]


VMI played its first football game in 1871. The one-game season was a 2-4 loss to Washington and Lee University. There are no records of a coach or any players for that game. [ [ Virginia Military Institute Game by Game Results ] ] VMI waited another twenty years, until 1891, when head coach Walter Taylor would coach the next football team. [ [ Virginia Military Institute Coaching Records ] ] The current head football coach at VMI, Sparky Woods, was named the 30th head coach on February 13 2008. [cite web|url=|title=VMI News Release on Hiring|accessdate=2008-02-13] The Keydets play their home games out of Alumni Memorial Field at Foster Stadium, built in 1962.

Men's Basketball

Perhaps the most famous athletic story in VMI history was the two-year run of the 1976 and 1977 basketball teams. The 1976 squad advanced within one game of the Final Four before bowing to undefeated Rutgers in the East Regional Final, and in 1977 VMI finished with 26 wins and just four losses, still a school record, and reached the "Sweet 16" round of the NCAA tournament.

Notable graduates

VMI's alumni include a Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, Rhodes Scholars, Medal of Honor recipients, US Senators and Representatives, college and university presidents, and many business leaders. Some examples:
*Richard Thomas Walker Duke, 1844. US congressman from Virginia, member of the Virginia House of Delegates, colonel in the Confederate States Army.
*Reuben Lindsay Walker, 1845. Confederate Army brigadier general and one of the Confederacy's most noted artillerymen.Fact|date=February 2007
*William Mahone, 1847. Confederate Army major general, member Virginia General Assembly, US Senator (1881–1887), and railroad executive.
*Robert E. Rodes, 1848. Railroad civil engineer and a Confederate Army major general killed during the Battle of Opequon in the Shenandoah Valley.
*Benjamin Franklin Ficklin, 1849. A founder of the Pony Express.
*George Smith Patton, 1852. Confederate Army colonel who served in the 22nd Virginia Infantry and died in the Battle of Opequon (the Third Battle of Winchester). Grandfather of namesake, General George Smith Patton Jr.
*James H. Lane, 1854. Confederate Army brigadier general who fought in Pickett's Charge, civil engineering professor, and founder of Virginia Tech.
*Thomas T. Munford, 1854. Confederate Army Brigadier-General.
*John McCausland, 1857. Confederate Army Brigadier-General, serving under General Jubal Early.
*Walter H. Taylor, 1857. Confederate Army lieutenant colonel, chief aide-de-camp to General Robert E. Lee (1861–1865), lawyer, banker, author, railroad executive based in Norfolk, Virginia, and Senator in the Virginia General Assembly.
*Scott Shipp, 1856. Superintendent of VMI from 1890-1907. Led the VMI Cadets in battle at the Battle of New Market under Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge.
*Clarence E Sutton, 1890. Medal of Honor recipient.
*Charles E. Kilbourne, 1894. Medal of Honor recipient.
*Cary D. Langhorne, 1894. Medal of Honor recipient.
*Henry G. Shirley, 1896. Commissioner, Virginia Department of Highways.
*Aldophus Staton, 1899. Medal of Honor recipient.
*George Marshall, 1901. General of the Army, Chief of Staff of the Army during World War II, US Secretary of State (1947–1949), US Secretary of Defense (1950), and Nobel Peace Prize winner for the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II.
*William P. Upshur, 1902. Medal of Honor recipient.
*Ernest O. Thompson, ca. 1910. General, Texas National Guard; Texas Railroad Commissioner, mayor of Amarillo, expert on petroleum issues.
*Leonard T. Gerow, 1911. General, US Army; Commanding General, V Corps Omaha Beach, Battle of the Bulge and European Campaign, July 1943 - January 1945; Commanding General, US Fifteenth Army, February 1945 - June 1948.
*John D. Ewing, 1913. Publisher of "Shreveport Times", 1931-1952.
*Richard Marshall, 1915. US Army general during World War II.
*Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., 1917. US Marine Corps general and twentieth commandant of the Marine Corps.
*Randolph McCall Pate, 1921. US Marine Corps general and twenty-first commandant of the Marine Corps.
*Giles H. Miller, 1924. President and Chairman of the Board, Culpeper National Bank, President of [ VMI Alumni Association] , Director of The George C. Marshall Foundation.
*Joseph Short, 1925. White House Press Secretary under Harry S. Truman.
*Sun Li-jen, 1927. Kuomintang (KMT) Lieutenant General, Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War, nicknamed "Rommel of the East".
*John Cherry Monks Jr 1932 Playwright, actor, author, screenwriter, producer and World War II US Marine
*Frank McCarthy, 1933. Academy Award winning producer and Brigadier General, US Army Reserves.
*Harry F. Byrd, Jr., 1935. US Senator (1965–1983).
*Bobby Thomason, 1949. Former NFL Pro Bowl quarterback.
*Edward R. Schowalter, Jr., 1951. Medal of Honor recipient.
*Fred Willard, 1955. American comedian and actor.
*Bobby Ross, 1959. Former head coach of the United States Military Academy, University of Maryland, College Park, Georgia Tech, the San Diego Chargers and the Detroit Lions football teams.
*Jonathan Myrick Daniels, 1961. American civil rights activist and one of fifteen modern-day martyrs listed by the Anglican Church.
*J. H. Binford Peay III, 1962. US Army general, commander 101st Airborne, commander United States Central Command, and fourteenth superintendent of VMI.
*W. Patrick Lang, 1962. Retired US Army Special Forces Officer, US intelligence executive, commentator on the Middle East, and author.
*Josiah Bunting III, Superintendent of VMI, 1995-2002
*John P. Jumper, 1966. Retired US Air Force general and former USAF Chief of Staff.
*Lewis F. Payne, Jr., 1967. US congressman from Virginia.
*Robert Flowers, 1969. US Army lieutenant general and commander, Army Corps of Engineers.
*Carl A. Strock, 1970. US Army lieutenant general and commander, Army Corps of Engineers
*Daniel J. Darnell, 1975. US Air Force lieutenant general, former commander and lead pilot of the USAF’s aerial demonstration team, The Thunderbirds.
*James B. Hickey, 1982. US Army colonel who commanded Operation Red Dawn, the operation which captured Saddam Hussein.


External links

* [ Official VMI website]
* [ Official VMI athletics website]
* [ Map of VMI campus]

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