Interim VMI superintendent named
Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins is a 1985 VMI grad; VMI is currently subject of state racism probe
As an independent investigation into allegations of racism at Virginia Military Institute moves forward, the state-supported military college announced a new interim superintendent on Friday.
Following a vote by the VMI Board of Visitors’ Executive Committee, retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins will serve as interim superintendent at the school. A 1985 VMI graduate, Wins served for 34 years in the Army. Wins will head the college until a permanent superintendent can be chosen.
During his 34-year career in the Army, Wins held many leadership and staff assignments, including in the Headquarters Department of the Army and the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with One Oak Leaf Cluster, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with One Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Bronze Star Medal. His final command was as the first commanding general of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command.
He holds two master’s degrees, one in management from the Florida Institute of Technology, and one in national security and strategic studies from the National War College.
The selection of Wins comes in the aftermath of exposés in The Roanoke Times and The Washington Post that allege an atmosphere of racism at VMI. On Oct. 19, Gov. Ralph Northam — himself a VMI graduate — and other top state legislators announced that they were “directing an independent, third-party review of VMI culture, policies, practices and equity in disciplinary procedures.” A “nonpartisan, national organization” will conduct the review and report findings before the end of 2020, to allow for “any necessary legislative action” by the General Assembly during its 2021 session, which begins in January.
In a letter dated Oct. 26, VMI superintendent, retired U.S. Army Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, announced his resignation, conveying that state officials “had lost confidence in my leadership” and “therefore desired my resignation.” Virginia lawmakers have since approved $1 million for an independent investigation at VMI.
The VMI Board of Visitors has appointed a search committee and will work with an executive search firm to identify superintendent candidates over the next several months. A new, permanent superintendent is expected to be in place during the summer of 2021.
“The VMI Board of Visitors is pleased that Maj. Gen. Wins has agreed to lead the institute during this critical time of transition,” says John William Boland, president of the VMI Board of Visitors. “Gen. Peay’s 17 years of service to the institute were transformative, and I am confident that Maj. Gen. Wins’ experience and values will provide steady and principled leadership as we continue to move the institute forward.”
As a cadet at VMI, Wins was a standout basketball player who finished his basketball career as one of the top five scorers in school history. Over his four years at VMI, he helped lead the team from last place in the Southern Conference to the Southern Conference finals during his first-class year. In 1985, he graduated with a bachelor of arts in economics and was commissioned into the Army as a field artillery officer.
“I am excited to return to VMI, a place that had an extraordinary impact on me as a leader and person,” says Wins. “Now more than ever, the lessons and values of VMI are needed in the world, and I am humbled to be a part of making that happen. I most look forward to leading the cadets and ensuring we have a safe and successful conclusion to the academic year, hit the ground running during the spring sports season, and continue fulfilling our vital mission of producing educated and honorable men and women.”
Founded in 1839, VMI has been called “The West Point of the South,” and is the oldest state-supported military college in the country. Stonewall Jackson joined VMI’s faculty in 1851 as a professor of natural and experimental philosophy, a precursor to natural science. During the Civil War, the Confederacy called on cadets to take part in military engagements, including the Battle of New Market, where 247 members of the VMI Corps of Cadets fought.
Famous VMI alumni include naval officer and explorer Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd Jr., General of the Army George Marshall Jr., and Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller, the most decorated Marine in American history.
VMI was the last U.S. military college to admit women after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 7-1 decision in June 1996 that it was unconstitutional for a school supported by public funds to exclude women.