Featured Article

Kurt Polk ’95: Why I VMI

Kurt Polk ’95


Even a knee injury that delayed his matriculation could not keep Kurt Polk ’95 from chasing his goal of earning a degree from the Institute and gaining the friends and career opportunities that came with it. His connection to VMI expands farther than his brother rats and even the larger alumni network, though, as Polk feels linked to the future generations of cadets. As he reflects upon VMI, Polk thinks about investing in all of the classes of cadets to come.

After his injury postponed matriculation, Polk took the year to heal and attend a state school in Illinois. Even his parents thought the experience of a civilian school might change Polk’s plan of attending VMI. “I think my mom and dad both thought that was it,” said Polk. Despite having what he said was “a great time” in Illinois, when Polk looked to the future, he wanted what his father, Col. Robert C. Polk ’61, had from VMI. “I saw the deep bonds that my dad had with his brother rats and other alumni. And I wanted that. I didn’t know what business I was going to be in, and I didn’t know what I was going to do with my career, but I knew if I made it through VMI that I would have something similar to what [Polk ’61] has.”

Ultimately, Polk chose VMI despite his deferred cadetship and being the only student he knew from southern Illinois attending the Institute. “For me, it was about setting my life on a different path,” Polk reflected. In his time there, he gained the friendships and character-building experience he hoped for. “I’m very fortunate; I have a number of circles of friendships within the VMI umbrella. But the bottom line is, when you start at the foundation of going through the Rat Line, of graduating from VMI, of starting at a position of honor and integrity, it allows you to create friends, regardless of age or other classes.”

Since graduation, Polk has stayed remarkably connected with the Institute and alumni, having held multiple positions such as chapter president, Class of 1995 25th Reunion committee chair, VMI Foundation Board of Trustees member, and VMI Investment Holdings, LLC committee member. “When I lived in Seattle, I was the VMI chapter [president] for eight years. I got to know a great group of people from that. While living in New York, there was a very active chapter there. I was an athlete and played tennis at VMI, so I’ve got that circle of friendships,” said Polk. Regarding his time on the VMI Investment Holdings committee, Polk reflected that it was “made up of really dedicated investment professionals that give back of their time for the benefit of investing the VMI Foundation assets.”

“It’s called annual giving, but it’s not really giving. It’s actually investing. It’s investing in the future of VMI to turn out the cadets and the graduates that can really make an impact.”

Kurt Polk ’95

In all these positions, Polk’s primary goal remained the same. “It’s all with one goal of supporting VMI, making sure that the cadets that are there today, as well as the future cadets, have probably an even better experience than I had at VMI. That is what really motivates me is to help make VMI just a place of true excellence.”

Amid being a husband, father, and the founder and chief executive officer of Cove Creek Partners, a private investment company, Polk does not have much time to spare. Yet, Polk makes time to invest in VMI with the skills he honed as a cadet. “We are all so busy with our lives, but VMI is part of our life, too,” said Polk. “I took 21 hours a semester of VMI so I could graduate on time—it is that doggedness that VMI instills in you and mandates from you to just get it done. So, this is me just trying to get it done for VMI.”

Polk’s forward-focused view of VMI and what it will be for future generations imbues his convictions toward annual giving. “VMI would simply cease to run without the annual giving that the VMI Foundation provides to the Institute,” said Polk. “We have grand goals and visions. We’ve got to get there for the benefit of future cadets and to be able to attract and retain the best cadets out there. We have to give.”

The VMI Polk is connected to is as much about the past—alumni of the Institute—as it is about the future—current and prospective cadets. The impact of investment upon VMI and the VMI network compels him.

“Every dollar matters to every person and every [alum] every time they write a check to give to VMI,” said Polk. “It’s called annual giving, but it’s not really giving. It’s actually investing. It’s investing in the future of VMI to turn out the cadets and the graduates that can really make an impact.”

  • Victoria Ferris

    Victoria Ferris Social Media and Communications Strategist

    The social media and communications strategist is responsible for creating compelling, audience-appropriate, multi-channel content for social media, and for monitoring the VMI Alumni Agencies' social media accounts. The strategist supports all communications efforts, including email marketing deployment and training, website updating, and video editing.

    Mattie Montgomery

    Mattie Montgomery Assistant Editor

    The assistant editor assists the editor-in-chief in various tasks relating to the production of quarterly and monthly publications, as well as prepares written materials for publication. The assistant editor serves as liaison between class agents and chapter presidents and the Agencies’ publications, as well as provides backup photography for events.