Progress is being made toward hiring VMI’s 15th superintendent, following the Oct. 26 resignation of Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62.
In early November 2020, the Board of Visitors appointed the Superintendent Search Committee, chaired by Gene Scott ’80, chair of the Board of Visitors External Relations Committee. Tom Watjen ’76, also on the BOV, is vice-chair of the committee. All but two members of the search committee are members or former members of the Board of Visitors; the two non-BOV members are Sam Stocks ’90, president of the VMI Alumni Association, and Col. Emily Miller, chair of the Department of English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies and one of the longest-serving among current Institute faculty members.
Assisting with the superintendent search is WittKieffer, an executive search firm with extensive experience in higher education. In December, WittKieffer staff administered a survey and conducted listening sessions with members of the VMI community to learn more about the qualifications, skills, and experience required of VMI’s next superintendent.
In early January, a job description was posted to WittKiefffer’s website and applications were opened. The position is advertised online, including but not limited to sites like the Chronicle of Higher Education, Diverse Jobs/Diverse Positions in Higher Education, HigherEd Jobs, Inside Higher Education, and Association of Military Colleges & Schools of the United States.
As of the end of January, Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins ’85, interim superintendent, had not publicly announced whether he would apply for the position. During January, Wins conducted listening sessions of his own with faculty, staff, and cadets to learn more about what they see as VMI’s strengths and weaknesses, and how the next superintendent can build a stronger VMI.
In its executive summary of the Institute accompanying the job description, WittKeiffer stresses the strength of VMI’s academic program and the success of its graduates in a variety of domains. In describing the kind of leader VMI needs, WittKeiffer notes:
“The ideal candidate to be VMI’s next superintendent will be a visionary, pragmatic, and empathetic leader who can draw on his or her experience in higher education, the military, and other venues. The candidate will demonstrate a deep respect for VMI’s mission and method of education: A strong commitment to cadet success and the development of the whole person is essential. Also important are outstanding judgment, excellent diplomatic skills, and the courage of conviction necessary to generate confidence across the community.”
Fundraising—including lobbying for support from the General Assembly—is also mentioned as a must-have skill. In addition, the document states that the new superintendent will “take the leadership role in the evolution of VMI’s culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
The ideal candidate is described as having skills and experience in most if not all of the following areas: Military leadership; higher education leadership; intercollegiate athletics; experience beyond academia and/or the military; respect for and dedication to VMI’s history, mission, and values; and commitment to the Corps of Cadets. Additional qualities and experience sought by the board include the ability to advocate for the Institute and board governance.
The active recruitment period for applicants continued through March 5, with the goal of having a new superintendent announced in late May. To learn more about the superintendent search process, visit this page. Anyone wishing to communicate with the Superintendent Search Committee may do so by email: email@example.com.
Mary Price VMI Communications & Marketing