On the evening of Nov. 11, a proud tradition of the VMI Alumni Agencies—the Institute Society Dinner—took place in Marshall Hall. Approximately 520 alumni, guests, and other members of the VMI family gathered as guests of the VMI Foundation to celebrate their support of the Institute.
And while the black-tie dinner is an annual event, this year’s gathering was especially significant because of the presence of a special guest: Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62, superintendent emeritus, who received the New Market Medal, VMI’s highest honor, at a ceremony in Cameron Hall that afternoon. Though Mrs. Pamela Peay could not be present Friday, speakers throughout the day consistently praised her commitment to VMI and steadfast support of both the Institute and the Corps of Cadets.
After dinner, Tom Zarges ’70 VMI Foundation president and VMI Alumni Agencies Board chairman, thanked the guests for their commitment to VMI, praising their “steadfast loyalty to VMI and an unshakable commitment to support the young men and women who choose to climb this mountain and take on the rigors of the VMI experience.”
Mr. Zarges noted that in fiscal year 2022, members of the VMI family demonstrated that loyalty and commitment by providing more than $50 million in gifts and commitments. “This astounding support strengthens every aspect of the Institute’s education,” he commented. “It serves as a stunning confirmation that alumni, parents, and friends are united in the support of VMI, its leadership, and its historic mission.”
Mr. Zarges then introduced Gen. Peay, who used the occasion to give heartfelt remarks, speaking without notes about how the successes VMI enjoyed while he was superintendent, from the extensive building campaign that reshaped post to the strengthening of VMI’s academic program, would not have been possible without private support.
“In my time on watch, the 17 years that we had so much success, it is directly related to you. And I know you're going to continue this now as the Institute goes on. ... It’s the admiration that we have had for you. We could not have done Vision 2039 without your support. You’re the greatest in the world.”Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62 Superintendent Emeritus
“Vision 2039 would not have happened without the support of the Institute Society,” said Peay. During his time as superintendent, Gen. Peay noted, the Institute conducted two major fundraising campaigns, Reveille: A Call to Excel and An Uncommon Purpose. The success of those campaigns served as an impetus for the General Assembly to fund VMI’s many building initiatives during those years, among them Third Barracks, Marshall Hall, and the Corps Physical Training Facility, plus renovations to many existing buildings.
His remarks concluded with “In my time on watch, the 17 years that we had so much success, it is directly related to you. And I know you’re going to continue this now as the Institute goes on. … It’s the admiration that we have had for you. We could not have done Vision 2039 without your support. You’re the greatest in the world.”
Following a standing ovation for Gen. Peay’s remarks, Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins ’85, superintendent, was invited to the podium as the keynote speaker. His speech had a single focus, pointing to the words on the VMI Parapet. He began with “I just want to tell you that VMI is focused and will remain focused on what many of us recognize is our north star that guideposts for all that we do,” Maj. Gen. Wins stated. “Colonel Preston’s inscription on the parapet continues to stand as the expression of our mission anchored in our past. This thread builds a common bond from one cadet to the other, one class to another, one team to another, and one generation to another. This bond holds us together and holds us accountable for how we spend our time, both on and off post. Our faculty, our staff, and the Corps of Cadets remain focused on this mission.”
Maj. Gen. Wins concluded his inspirational remarks with “In the end, what will matter to our families, our communities, the state, and our nation is that we continue to graduate men and women of character who are ready in time of peril, to lead and to serve.
“In closing, I just want to take the time to state that the foundation of VMI is and remains strong. We’ve not been shaken and we are focused on our fundamentals. Each of you are a tremendous part of the success and our mission moving forward. Thank you again very much for joining us this evening and to celebrate the VMI we all know and we all love. Rah Virginia Mil.”
Following a robust standing ovation for Maj. Gen. Wins’ remarks, the evening closed with members of the VMI Glee Club performing a number of musical selections, among them “Shenandoah,” “The VMI Spirit,” and “The VMI Doxology.”
Mary Price Development Writer/Communications Specialist
The development writer plays a key role in producing advancement communications. This role imagines, creates, and produces a variety of written communication to inspire donors to make gifts benefiting VMI. Utilizing journalistic features and storytelling, the development writer will produce content for areas such as Annual Giving, stewardship, and gift planning.