A VMI education remains one of the most challenging and rewarding college experiences in the United States. The young people in the barracks are expected to excel as students, cadets, and athletes. They are expected as well to embrace the unshakeable demands of the Honor Code and to learn the basics of leadership through the regimental and the class systems. It is an exacting process; however, it is an effective one. In this crucible, young people are transformed into citizen-soldiers who are capable, purposeful, and honorable and imbued with a strong sense of service—men and women who will make real and enduring contributions to their communities, our country, and the world.
The character of the education that VMI offers—and which attracts hundreds of young people to the Institute every year—is not one that can be replicated “virtually.” It demands the presence of cadets on post—interacting with each other and the Institute’s faculty and staff.
VMI’s bold decision to reopen on time and to maintain a schedule as close to as normal as possible kept faith with the VMI family, especially its cadets. This is a magnificent achievement.
More important—much more important—is what it meant to the Corps of Cadets. This decision ensured cadets were provided with the experiences that will transform them—as they have transformed all of those who preceded them—into the leaders that our country always will need. It also showed them that alumni, faculty, staff, and friends resolutely support them.
Fundraising during a time of lingering uncertainty has created numerous challenges. But the leaders and staff of the VMI Alumni Agencies have met them head-on, embracing new approaches to refining familiar techniques of fundraising on VMI’s behalf. For example, in the fall, it conducted a limited “crowdfunding” campaign called It All Starts Here—which was centered on Founders Day. The Agencies is also using technology to support the alumni who are leading their class reunion campaigns.
The Agencies has been exploring imaginative ways to engage with alumni, parents, and friends through virtual events and creating unique stewardship opportunities. The Alumni Association hosted several “virtual reunions,” bringing together brother rats of numerous classes to strengthen their bonds with each other and VMI. The VMI Foundation’s annual Institute Society Dinner was held virtually—which actually allowed many members of The Institute Society to participate who otherwise might not have been able to be on post under normal circumstances.
You, the VMI family, have responded wonderfully. By the end of December 2020, alumni, parents, and friends had come forward with more than $12 million in gifts and commitments. Within that amount are many great stories. A total of 237 donors participated in It All Starts Here, giving more than $100,320. The VMI family has provided considerable support to VMI Annual Giving. Donors have given the Keydet Club Scholarship Fund more than $923,000 that will be used to support the cadet-athletes who represent VMI at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics. The Foundation Fund—which generates unrestricted money the Institute uses to advance academic and co-curricular programs—has enjoyed considerable support with giving up more than 10% over the amount at the same time last year. Private support provided VMI with $23 million in fiscal year 2020. With continued generosity from the VMI family, we remain on track to provide VMI with the resources it needs again in 2021.
As encouraging as this progress has been, this remains a challenging time for American higher education, to include VMI. Under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins ’85, the Institute is committed to maintaining and strengthening that which makes its education both extraordinary in its nature and effective in its results. It is focused on ensuring the young people who come to VMI seeking to stand apart from their contemporaries receive the experiences in which they can test themselves and develop the traits of principled leadership. To do so, VMI will need its alumni, families, and friends to sustain their generous financial support of the Institute—and, if possible, to increase.
On behalf of the Institute, we here at the Alumni Agencies thank everyone in the VMI family who has made a gift or commitment in the Institute’s support. You are helping the Institute maintain its place in the top tier of American higher education at an important time in its history. If you have not made a gift or commitment this fiscal year, please consider joining in this critical effort.
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.