VMI Chooses Interim Superintendent as Investigation Moves Forward
By Brian Carlton
November 14, 2020

Wins is a 34-year military veteran and a 1985 VMI graduate

LEXINGTON-The Virginia Military Institute needed someone to lead the school during a challenging time. They got that man Friday, as school officials announced retired Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins will take over as interim superintendent. 

Wins was voted in by the executive committee of the school’s Board of Visitors. The 34-year military veteran, himself a 1985 graduate of VMI, takes over from Gen. Peay, who resigned in the wake of allegations from both current students and alumni. Black cadets and alumni spoke to the Washington Post and Roanoke Times earlier this year about allegations of racism. They described VMI as a place where lynching threats occured and faculty spoke openly about praising the Confederacy. 

As a result, Gov. Ralph Northam, himself a 1981 graduate of the school, announced the state would launch an independent, third-party investigation into the school’s culture. The goal will be to compare VMI’s culture to other Virginia universities, with a report due by the end of the year. That way the General Assembly can review the information and take action as needed in the 2021 session. 

The General Assembly approved $1 million for the investigation this week, so that’s moving forward. Also, the Board of Visitors agreed to relocate VMI’s statue of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson off-campus. In addition, the group voted to create a permanent diversity officer at the school, as well as a permanent diversity and inclusion committee for the Board of Visitors.

This is the situation Maj. Gen. Wins steps into. 

‘Leading the Cadets’ 

Maj. Gen. Wins had a distinguished career in the Army. He’s served on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon; worked with U.S. Army Headquarters and became the first commanding general of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. During his 34 years, the military awarded him the Legion of Merit with One Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Service Medal with One Oak Leaf Cluster, the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Bronze Star Medal. He also has two master’s degrees, one in management and one in national security and strategic studies. 

In a statement released Friday by VMI, Maj. Gen. Wins said he’s focused on helping the cadets get through this unique school year. 

“I am excited to return to VMI, a place that had an extraordinary impact on me as a leader and person,” said 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.”

Setting a Timetable

Wins will serve until the Board of Visitors decides on a permanent replacement for Peay. The group appointed a search committee earlier this month and hopes to have a candidate in place by next summer. 

John Boland, president of the Board of Visitors, said he appreciated that Wins was willing to take the job. 

“The VMI Board of Visitors is pleased that Maj. Gen. Wins has agreed to lead the Institute during this critical time of transition,” Boland said. “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.”

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