Message from the Campaign Chairman

Wilkinson with ribbon

An Uncommon Purpose

At the 175th anniversary of its founding, the Virginia Military Institute is in perhaps the strongest position in its history. The demand for leaders who possess the values instilled in VMI graduates is more pressing in today’s world than ever. The Institute has had an uncommon character since its conception. Its founders, inspired by the noble ideals of the Classical Era which profoundly influenced our country’s Founding Fathers, set out in the 1830s to create something different from the ordinary American college.

The Institute was established with this uncommon purpose in mind: to prepare young people to be citizen-soldiers. Its curriculum would provide cadets with an education in step with a rapidly growing and changing country. Its military structure, described by Preston as “its characteristic feature,” would form the character of every cadet in such a way as to prepare them to be resolute, purposeful, and honorable leaders and instill in them an ethos of selfless service.

A Glorious Past

VMI has a proud history. Each May, the VMI family honors cadets who fought and who fell at the Battle of New Market. The Institute rose, quite literally, from the ashes of a civil war and determinedly pursued its founding vision in the late 19th century. Few people had more effect on the United States in the late 20th century as did the illustrious George C. Marshall ’901. Few institutions can match the number of Rhodes Scholars (11) VMI has produced, and few can claim a humanitarian as worthy of emulation than civil rights hero Jonathan Daniels ’61.

However, the crowning achievement of VMI is not to be found in the great moments in its history or even in its most renowned alumni. It is to be found in its continuing ability to graduate–in numbers disproportionate to its size–leaders of character who are capable of success in any profession and possess a fervent sense of duty. VMI graduates are highly prized by employers, highly regarded within their communities, and an invaluable resource to our country. 

A Brilliant Future

As the Institute approaches its third century, it must safeguard its ability to produce leaders of integrity ready to serve the nation in times of peace and peril. That is why it now is engaged in An Uncommon Purpose: A Glorious Past, A Brilliant Future: The Campaign for VMI. This effort is raising hundreds of millions of dollars to meet priorities—described elsewhere on this website—that are aimed at ensuring that the Institute will remain strong.

Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of thousands of alumni and friends, the campaign already has enjoyed significant success. It passed its initial goal well ahead of expectations. We must press forward, however, because this campaign is about making sure the Institute can fulfill its uncommon purpose deep into the 21st century.

Please review the information presented on this website. Then, consider the part that you will play in this critical and noble effort to help VMI fulfill its uncommon purpose, keep faith with its glorious past, and enjoy a truly brilliant future.