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2024 VMI Legislative Reception

Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins '85, superintendent, addresses crowd of attendees from podium at Legislative Reception at the Library of Virginia.

Approximately 400 VMI alumni and friends gathered at the Library of Virginia in Richmond Feb. 22, 2024, for this year's Legislative Reception—Photo courtesy VMI Communications and Marketing.

The 2024 edition of the always popular VMI Legislative Reception took place at the Library of Virginia in Richmond Feb. 22, 2024. As is customary, alumni and friends turned out in force—approximately 400 made their way to Capitol Square this year—and many members of the state government’s executive branch, as well as the House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia and their legislative staffs, were in attendance. The event drew two very prominent political players: Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears and Don Scott, speaker of the House.

One of the reasons VMI annually hosts this event can be summed up in one word: Gratitude. As Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins ’85, superintendent, said in his remarks, “The purpose in gathering this evening is for the alumni and supporters of VMI to acknowledge the significant commitment undertaken by the members the legislative and executive branches and the many key staff members who support them. We offer our heartful thanks for your service to the Commonwealth and continued investments in higher education and, especially, VMI.”

The event also allows alumni, cadets, faculty, and staff to acquaint members of the state government—executive as well as legislative—with facts about VMI, such as its focus on the preparation of young people to lead consequential lives highlighted by honest success, selfless service, and active citizenship, as well as the many contributions its alumni have made to the country and in the Commonwealth of Virginia for more than 180 years. “VMI consistently punches above its weight when it comes to what its graduates accomplish professionally and what they give to their communities, the Commonwealth, and the country in terms of service and leadership,” said David Prasnicki, VMI Alumni Agencies chief executive officer. “It is satisfying to explain that to people, in and out of government, who might not be acquainted with VMI.”

Anthony U. Moore ’78, VMI Alumni Association president, put the event in the context of the Institute’s continuous effort to engage the General Assembly. “VMI is a state-supported school, and therefore, it is imperative to work tirelessly with legislators to maintain our high level of academics, funding for operations and capital projects, and our unique place in the Commonwealth’s education system. This event is just one part of that necessary effort.”

It won’t surprise anyone in the VMI family to learn that the most effective means of presenting VMI’s enduring value are its cadets. Many of them attended the reception after having spent part of the day meeting with those serving in the General Assembly. As usual, those who met them came away from the experience struck by their maturity, poise, purposefulness, and commitment to service. “Our best advertisement for what VMI does for young people,” said Meade B. King ’85, VMI Foundation chief operating officer and Alumni Agencies director o advancement, “are the young people who are being transformed by the VMI education. No matter what their rank in the Corps, they are always impressive.”

“VMI consistently punches above its weight when it comes to what its graduates accomplish professionally and what they give to their communities, the Commonwealth, and the country in terms of service and leadership.”

David Prasnicki, VMI Alumni Agencies chief executive officer

One of the evening’s many highlights was the presentation of a resolution from the VMI Board of Visitors to Thomas K. Norment Jr. ’68, former state senator, who gave, as Wins put it, “more than three decades of service to the Commonwealth as the ‘senator from James City County.’” The resolution cited Norment’s service as both the majority leader and minority leader and the leader of several important committees, including the Senate Finance Committee. It also acknowledged his important role in “patroning countless budget amendments [that] … were instrumental in enhancing the operations of the Institute to include additional faculty and staff positions, compensation increases, academic program enhancements, academic support positions, and additional funding for the unique military activities programs.”

After receiving the resolution, Norment addressed the gathering. He spoke about the changes he had experienced in the General Assembly and, more broadly, politics since the early 1990s. He decried the decline of civility and the growing reluctance to compromise. However, he held out a solution to these problems: Getting more alumni to serve in elected office. He pointed out that currently, only Jennifer Carroll Foy ’03, who represents District 33 in the Senate of Virginia, is in the General Assembly. The ethos of service and sense of honor that VMI graduates possess, Norment asserted, make them well-suited to hold elective office. He also urged the VMI family to be “supportive and patient” with Wins and the BOV, who are “navigating through very challenging times. … Public fragmentation of the VMI family,” he said, “is neither constructive nor helpful.”

“Exceptional” was how Ernesto V. Sampson Jr. ’98, VMI Foundation president, described the event. “I have been going to the Legislative Reception since 2010, and this year’s event had the best attendance by elected officials. I was glad to see the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the House there and to have the opportunity to speak to them both about VMI. I found them very supportive of the Institute and well versed in VMI’s character, given the lieutenant governor is a Marine and the Speaker of the House attended Texas A&M.”

“It was a great event, as usual,” said Moore. “I had the opportunity to attend the VMI legislative reception during my time in the office of Governor Bob McDonnell. I always looked forward to the VMI reception, not only because it was my alma mater but because of the exceptional venue and the presence of so many people from government mixed with members of the VMI family.”

“The event is even better now, thanks to the Agencies team that organizes it—ably led by Christina Cummings—and the presence of the Institute’s senior leaders, faculty, staff, and cadets. I hope more alumni and friends take the opportunity to attend future receptions in order to share their views with legislators, staff, cadets, and other alumni about VMI,” he concluded.

  • Scott Belliveau

    Scott Belliveau '83 Communications Officer - Executive Projects

    The communications officer supports the strategy for all communications, including web content, public relations messages and collateral pieces in order to articulate and promote the mission of the VMI Alumni Agencies and promote philanthropy among varied constituencies.