During his visit to post April 25, 2023, Lt. Gen. Josiah Bunting III ’63, VMI’s 13th superintendent, reunited with his Class of 1963 brother rats and spent a portion of the morning in a ceremony recognizing his recent contributions to the VMI Archives at Preston Library. Twenty-six containers of Bunting’s papers are now part of the archives, including correspondence, speeches, lectures, research and meeting notes, drafts of books, military orders, maps, and photographs from Bunting’s time in the Marine Corps, to his time at VMI, then through his life until 2020.
Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins ’85, superintendent, opened the ceremony highlighting Bunting’s many accomplishments as a cadet and throughout his life. During his time at VMI, Bunting was a swim team member, an associate editor of The Cadet newspaper, and a regimental commander during his 1st Class year. He was also VMI’s eighth Rhodes Scholar. He entered the Army in 1966 and retired in 1972. His life then turned fully to education as a professor, teaching at the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval War College. He went on to hold leadership roles at Briarcliff College, Hampden-Sydney College, and The Lawrenceville School. He became VMI’s 13th superintendent in 1995, as the Institute was in the midst of a legal battle on whether or not it would become a coeducational institution. Bunting led the transition as the first female cadets matriculated in 1997. During his time as superintendent, he also oversaw one of VMI’s largest capital campaigns.
As he began his remarks, Bunting took a moment to recognize his wife, Diana, for “being responsible for about 90 percent” of his accomplishments. He came to VMI, a place he knew nothing about, because of an unknown fellow Marine’s brief mention of the Institute. “It’s a jewel of a college, and for that, I will always be very grateful. And everything I hear now confirms everything I expected VMI to continue to be. It’s a privilege to come back and see the school in full flourish.”
Alongside his professional roles, Bunting has been a writer and a historian with a particular focus on military history. He has published several fiction and nonfiction books and has studied Gen. George C. Marshall, Class of 1901, thoroughly, citing Marshall as one of his heroes.
Maj. Jeff Kozak, head of archives and records management at VMI, emphasized the importance and vast size of the new addition to VMI archives, especially providing more context into cadet life during the 1960s. The donation of Bunting’s papers has been under discussion for over 20 years but finally came to fruition over the last year, getting the materials to VMI and organizing them for public view. “This is a very great thing from a historical standpoint because it provides researchers with a valuable resource. We can now understand the positions Bunting was in as a cadet, a scholar, an author, superintendent, as well as the person behind those positions,” Kozak explained.
One letter, in particular, caught Kozak’s attention as he sifted through the bins. It was a letter Bunting wrote as the regimental commander to the 4th Class cadets that said, “Set for yourselves only the very highest goals and do not waiver in pursuit of them. Do not be satisfied with good grades. Do not be satisfied with a good performance at drill. Do not be satisfied with excellence on the athletic fields. Do not be satisfied until you’ve thrown yourselves into every facet of cadet life, with all you have to give it.” Kozak and his team continue to sift through the collection to organize the items in Bunting’s collection and make them available for researchers.
The Classes of 1953, 1958, and 1968 were also on post to celebrate their reunions, and many attended the ceremony.
Maj. Michelle Ellwood VMI Communications & Marketing