Published: February 10, 2021
Members of the VMI Family,
We are one month into the investigation by Barnes & Thornburg, the team under contract by the Commonwealth of Virginia to provide a fair and independent assessment of the culture and processes at VMI.
On Feb. 4, Barnes & Thornburg submitted the first monthly progress report to the State Council for Higher Education for Virginia, as outlined by their contract. We were perplexed by the tone of some of their statements, because we have been focused on building a strong and cooperative relationship with them during the investigation.
In the normal course of events regarding investigations such as these, much of the first month is the review and discussion of processes and procedures during the investigation. Some topics include:
- The subject of FERPA, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. Since November 2020, we have been in discussion with the Commonwealth attorney general’s office on how best to advance the investigation and provide accurate information while complying with federal privacy laws. We are still in discussion on this issue.
- The review and resolution of Barnes & Thornburg’s request that VMI suspend the VMI Honor Code for all cadets interviewed during this investigation. Institute leadership declined this request. VMI assured the investigative team that privacy and anonymity would be respected during the investigative process.
- The rights of cadets, faculty, and staff to have legal counsel present when being questioned by Barnes & Thornburg’s team of former prosecutors. We feel a responsibility to our cadets, faculty, staff, and alumni that, if requested, competent legal counsel will be provided, while complying with applicable privacy laws. This issue is still in discussion.
Institute leadership has regularly reported to the VMI Alumni Agencies their commitment to provide their full cooperation and focus throughout the investigation. Thus far, with due consideration to FERPA and privacy issues, the Institute has submitted thousands of pages of documents requested by Barnes & Thornburg.
The VMI Alumni Agencies have hired a well-known and highly respected law firm, McGuireWoods, to represent our interests. The Institute is represented, most recently, by Eckert Seamans, a law firm appointed by the attorney general’s office. We are well represented, and all are committed to a fair and unbiased process. VMI continues to be responsive to Barnes & Thornburg’s requests and will continue in a spirit of open and transparent cooperation that we trust is reciprocated.
We will continue to provide updates to the VMI family.
Thank you for your continued support.
Gerald J. Acuff Jr. ’71
President, VMI Keydet Club
Chairman of the Board
VMI Alumni Agencies
Stephen E. Hupp ’84
Samuel N. Stocks ’90
VMI Alumni Association
Stephen M. Maconi
Chief Executive Officer
VMI Alumni Agencies
John P. Jumper ’66
General (Ret.), U.S. Air Force