On Post

Commandant to Retire in 2021

Col. William J. Wanovich ’87 will retire as commandant at the completion of the 2020-21 academic year. He began planning his retirement in summer 2020.—Photo courtesy VMI Communications & Marketing.

Col. William J. Wanovich ’87, commandant of the VMI Corps of Cadets since 2014, will retire at the end of the 2020-21 academic year.

Before becoming commandant, Wanovich capped off a 27-year U.S. Army career by serving as professor of military science of VMI’s Army ROTC unit, a position he held from 2010-14. During his time there, VMI commissioned just under 400 Army officers and earned the MacArthur Award among the senior military colleges in 2013 and 2014.

In his role as commandant, Wanovich strove to develop professionalism, discipline, and traditional military skills training among the Corps of Cadets. Highlights of his years developing the daily military regimen have included participation by the Corps in the inaugural parade for President Donald Trump on Jan. 20, 2017, and in the inaugural parade for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ’81 Jan. 13, 2018.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Wanovich was a distinguished military graduate from VMI with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He held rank in the Corps throughout his cadetship, was a member of the Cadet Investment Group, and was the class treasurer on the Ring Figure Committee.

Commissioned in the U.S. Army Infantry upon graduation from VMI, Wanovich deployed to Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1991 and the next year served as a battalion supply and logistics officer in Homestead, Florida, providing humanitarian assistance as part of Operation Hurricane Andrew. He served in many leadership and staff positions and in a security assistance role for Egypt, Africa, and Iraq.

He served as both secretary of the Coalition Joint Staff and later as special troops battalion commander in Headquarters, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, deploying to Iraq for 12 and 15 months. This included command of Task Force Dragon, which provided security, support, and services to more than 4,100 members of the Multi-National Force and Multi-National Corps in Iraq staffs.

He is a graduate of the United States Army War College, where he earned a master’s degree in strategic studies.

His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (seven awards), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, and Ranger Tab.

Wanovich and his wife, Tina, have two daughters, Regan and Grace. Tina has been a special education teacher at Rockbridge County High School for the last 11 years. Regan is a sophomore at James Madison University pursuing a nursing degree. Grace is a senior at Rockbridge County High School, applying to several colleges.

Wanovich also has two step-children: Katie LeFleur, who is an interior design consultant in Gulfport, Mississippi, and Jordan Dillon, who is an orthopedic office administrator in Zanesville, Ohio.

In retirement, Wanovich looks forward to spending more time with family. He and Tina have a grandson, Finley, and they are very blessed to be welcoming another grandchild and celebrating a wedding with Jordan in the spring, and a high school graduation for Grace in June.

  • Mary Price VMI Communications & Marketing