More than 450 alumni and friends were the guests of the VMI Foundation at the Institute Society Dinner Nov. 11, 2021. After a year’s hiatus, taking place again in the Hall of Valor in Marshall Hall, the annual event recognizes the hundreds of members of the VMI family whose generosity to the Institute and its cadets places them in the front rank of supporters of the Institute. In Fiscal Year 2021, these men and women contributed tens of millions of dollars in gifts and commitments to every aspect of VMI’s extraordinary education.
After a greeting from Meade B. King ’85, VMI Foundation chief operating officer, cadets posted the colors, and the VMI Herald Trumpets played the national anthem. After the evening’s invocation from Col. Robert S. Phillips Sr. ’87, the John M. Camp Chaplain to the Corps of Cadets, dinner was served.
After dinner, Thomas H. Zarges ’70, VMI Foundation president, thanked the guests for their philanthropy, saying, “Your gifts had a significant impact on the lives of current and future cadets, a legacy for generations to come. Your support of our academic program helped to sustain its excellence and provided a foundation for further progress. Your support of co-curriculum bolstered what makes VMI’s education undeniably extraordinary and just as undeniably effective. Your support of our athletic program sharpened our teams’ competitive edge and allowed more young people to reap the many rewards of being a cadet-athlete.”
“Your generosity,” continued Zarges, “has given VMI the ability and the confidence to carry out the mission its founders set for it—to provide our great state and great country with well-educated, purposeful, and honorable graduates prepared for consequential lives of professional success and selfless service—which it has pursued since that snowy day in 1839.”
A short video depicting the effect of private support on the Institute and, therefore, on cadets’ lives followed Zarges’ remarks. After the video, the keynote presentation was provided by Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins ’85, the Institute’s 15th superintendent. In his first Institute Society Dinner address, he stressed the importance of maintaining VMI’s progress. “The cost to maintain the first-rate education we provide at VMI requires a long-term commitment from all of us. We continue to invest in building the best facilities; recruiting excellent faculty, staff, and cadets; and providing opportunities for cadets to excel in sports, academics, and the military. We’ve made tremendous progress toward Vision 2039, and I believe we are on the right track, but we must not let up on our efforts. We must be diligent and forward-thinking.”
He then introduced the Institute’s new leadership team members and said, “My team and I are excited to be here and lead VMI forward. I want to reinforce that VMI is strong and has a bright future ahead. The Institute has survived adversity in the past and will in the future because our foundation is solid and not easily shaken. VMI remains essentially what it has always been: A disciplined community for learning and leadership development, dedicated to the highest standards of integrity, civility, personal honor, and courage.”
He closed his remarks by reiterating his confidence in VMI and thanking the guests. “I want to assure you of the direction we are going into the future—a future that I believe is very bright. You are a tremendous part of this success and our mission moving forward. Thank you for your continued support, and rest assured the fundamentals of VMI remain strong.”
The evening closed with a spirited performance by the VMI Glee Club, which closed with “The VMI Spirit” and “The VMI Doxology” and remarks by King, in which he thanked the guests for the immense benefits their giving provides cadets.
“If you ever ask yourself if you have made a real difference, just think of the faces and voices you saw on that video, and you see in this room tonight, and you’ll have your answer.”
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.
Christian Heilman Director of Digital Content
The director of digital content is responsible for creating original video and multimedia materials, as well as developing and editing web and digital content. The director is responsible for platform coordination and troubleshooting, to include the VMI Alumni Agencies’ primary websites, digital newsletter and other digital platforms.