50 Years of The Institute Society

Meet Some Institute Society Members

Since 1974, members of the Institute Society have been providing significant funds for VMI—an impact that has touched the lives of every cadet to this day.

This fall, the Institute Society will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Be a part of the celebration and, more importantly, be a part of the important mission of the Institute Society.

Want to learn more? Click here or call our offices to set up your gift today.

Meet Members of the Institute Society

Waite Rawls ’70 | Peter Meredith Jr. ’74 | Frank Louthan III ’66

Waite Rawls ’70

Waite Rawls ’70


“You learn human virtue at VMI … it is honor, it is leadership … you live it at VMI.”

Waite Rawls ’70 has carried the lessons from his time at VMI throughout his life and career. When asked how often he reflects on his cadetship, Rawls answered, “How often do I not? I will still see a dollar bill on the street and come thumbtack it to the side of a tree and say, ‘Did somebody lose this?’”

It is his belief in the importance of a VMI education that inspires Rawls, like his parents before him, to be a proud member of the Institute Society—a generous group of donors whose unrestricted gifts help sustain VMI. “Unrestricted giving is incredibly important for a college,” Rawls explained. “Every dollar that somebody gives is an important dollar.”

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Peter Meredith Jr. ’74

Peter Meredith Jr. ’74


Peter Meredith Jr. ’74 first decided to come to VMI because he sought to follow in his father’s footsteps; he wanted to join his family’s construction business and earn a degree in civil engineering and, as he puts it, “VMI was the best place in the state to go get it.”

Meredith has supported VMI financially since he graduated from VMI. “My parents started me and my brother on that track,” he explained. “VMI was right at the top of their list of important places to share their money. And they did it their whole lives.” To this day, the Meredith Family Scholarship, founded by Peter Meredith Sr. ’50B and wife Susan Meredith, supports the education of dedicated VMI cadets.

Like his parents before him, Meredith is a member of the Institute Society and has seen firsthand how far VMI has come in the last 50 years. “The financial support of the Institute Society dollars [has] allowed many new programs just to start and flourish,” said Meredith. “VMI would not be what it is today without the Institute Society gifts, and the gifts at all levels from alumni.”

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Frank Louthan III ’66

Frank Louthan III ’66


For Frank Louthan III ’66, the decision to attend VMI happened in an instant.

“When I was a senior in high school in Richmond, Virginia, I was running track and field in Lexington for the indoor state meet,” he explained. “I stood in Washington Arch and watched the Corps march to dinner. … For some reason, I said, ‘I think I want to do this.’ So that’s why I came to VMI.”

Since then, his affinity for the Institute has never wavered. “I don’t ever remember wanting to leave,” he said of his time as a cadet. “I never really had a time at VMI when I was ready to call it quits.” Throughout the years, Louthan has still not quit on VMI and has shown his support by becoming a leadership-level donor.

In the late 1970s, Louthan’s father was on the VMI Board of Visitors, and he recalls the board’s decision to form the Institute Society to help support VMI financially. “They realized, with the state funding declining, that tuition alone would not be sufficient. So, they set out to create an endowment.” he explained. In 1974, the VMI Foundation created the Institute Society, to recognize and thank the generous men and women who support VMI financially in a significant way.

Over the years, Louthan has witnessed the tremendous impact the members of the Institute Society have. “The great thing about 50 years is now, you can look back and you can see that their vision back there in 1974 and 1975 was fulfilled.”

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  • 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.