A Letter to the VMI Community from MG Wins '85, 11 FEB 2021
As many of you know, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, Class of 1981, ordered a review of VMI with regard to diversity and inclusion. As your Interim Superintendent, it is my firm intention that the results of this equity audit will make the VMI experience, traditions, and culture more positive and meaningful for all cadets.
The Commonwealth, through the State Council of Higher Education, contracted with the Barnes & Thornburg law firm to explore VMI’s culture, policies, and traditions. This equity audit will use various methods to evaluate the Institute, such as interviews, focus groups, surveys, and review of documents and other available information. These various activities will soon commence. At the conclusion of this review, the Barnes & Thornburg team will propose recommendations to and benchmarks for the VMI community.
In the next week or so, Barnes & Thornburg will issue an anonymous survey to VMI cadets, alumni, faculty, and staff. For VMI cadets and employees, the survey will be sent to your VMI email address; for non-employee alumni, the survey will go to your email address on file with VMI. Please complete the survey promptly and thoughtfully.
Barnes & Thornburg will also begin interviews soon, on post (observing COVID-19 safety protocols) and virtually. We will announce the necessary logistics on these interviews in the coming days.
Please know that VMI fully supports the work of the equity audit. An open and candid dialogue is vitally important to this process. VMI pledges and requests all of its family (faculty, staff, the Corps of Cadets, alumni and parents of current and former cadets) provide full disclosure, open reporting, and a complete and honest transparency of any events, activities, or conduct for the equity audit being conducted by Barnes & Thornburg.
As noted above, this review is being conducted at the request of the Governor and it is not directed by VMI. Barnes & Thornburg has pledged to VMI’s leadership that the statements made during all interviews and other individual identifying data obtained during this review will be fully protected and not disclosed by their law firm. In particular, the identity of any person who participates in an interview, focus group, survey, or other activity will be anonymous when Barnes & Thornburg writes any summary memorandum or otherwise reports its findings.
Further, VMI will not attempt to discern the identity of anonymous individuals disclosing relevant data during the equity audit. All members of the VMI community will be treated equitably and without fear of retaliation at every stage of this vital process.
If you would like to contact Barnes & Thornburg directly to provide any information, request an interview, or otherwise to participate in the review, I encourage you to do so. You can do this by email at VMIReview@btlaw.com, or by phone at 202-831-6777. Barnes & Thornburg will keep your identity and participation confidential.
By wisdom and courage, we will forge a stronger VMI. Thank you in advance for your patience and support through this process.
If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me at VMI-Superintendent@vmi.edu.