Cindy Bither
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VMI Matriculates Largest Incoming Class Ever

FullTextImage/img/@altSigning the Matriculation Book

LEXINGTON, Va., Aug. 21, 2011 

Matriculation for the class of 2015 was well under way by mid-morning Aug. 20 as anxious new cadets declared academic majors, registered for classes and signed VMI’s venerable Matriculation Book.
“It’s kind of an organized chaos that all comes together,” said Lt. Col. William Oliver, VMI’s associate registrar, as he surveyed the floor of Cameron Hall, which was crammed with tables and booths representing various academic and ROTC departments and NCAA athletics.
New cadets moved from table to table accompanied by parents who took pictures and offered a chin-up to an apprehensive son or daughter.  In some cases it was the parents who needed a chin-up.
“You have parents who are excited for the new adventure, and you have parents who are worried about their kids,” said Tom Johnson, a Parents Council co-president with his wife, Karen.  “We try to bring the parents together and reassure them; VMI is family,” Johnson said.
Sometimes cadets come to matriculation day unaccompanied by parents.  Steve and Kitty Coor, Parents Council co-vice presidents, spent much of their day accompanying a rat from Colorado who arrived on post by himself.  “We wanted to do it because we have been through this before with our son, Patrick, and we wanted to go through the experience again,” said Steve Coor. “Plus we didn’t want this cadet to be alone.”
By early afternoon the incoming rat class totaled 509, including 56 women and 122 NCAA athletes.  Col. Vernon Beitzel ’72, VMI’s director of admissions, said members of the Class of 2015 were selected from a pool of 2, 243 applicants, a 25 percent increase over the previous year, and the largest number in VMI history.
Seven foreign countries and 34 states are represented in the class, of whom 57 percent of cadets are in-state students.
VMI’s Superintendent, Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62, welcomed new cadets and parents Saturday afternoon.  Following the address, cadets left Cameron Hall in companies to begin their nine-day cadre period.
Capt. Chris Perry ’05, assistant commandant for cadet life, said the Class of 2015 will be in the hands of one the best cadre teams VMI has produced.  “It’s still intense but it’s a different kind of intense,” said Perry, recalling his own days on the Rat Line.  “Today the mission is different:  you take care of your people, not weed out the weak.”
–George Abry