Virginia Military Institute superintendent resigns

Roanoke Valley News

LEXINGTON, Va. (WFXR) — The superintendent of Virginia Military Institute has resigned.

In a statement to WFXR News, the Board of Visitors said Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III served as VMI superintendent for more than 17 years.

The resignation comes days after Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) ordered an investigation of systemic racism allegations at VMI leveled in a Washington Post story.

Peay’s resignation letter noted the investigation and said Northam had lost confidence in his ability to lead VMI.

“On Friday, 23 October 2020, the Governor’s Chief of Staff conveyed that the Governor and certain legislative leaders had lost confidence in my leadership as Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute and desired my resignation. Therefore, effective today, 26 October 2020, I here by resign.

“It has been the honor of my life to be the Superintendent of VMI for over seventeen years. I always have and always will love the Institute, all of our cadets, alumni and the entire VMI family. Pamela and I pass on our best wishes for the future, and will be cheering you on with great admiration and fondness as your work continues to serve the nation so well.”

J.H. Binford Peay III
General, U.S. Army (retired)

The following statement was released by the VMI Board of Visitors following Peay’s resignation.

“Today, our Superintendent tendered his resignation to the Board of Visitors. We accepted it with deep regret.

“General Peay has served VMI as superintendent exceptionally well for more than 17 years. General Peay is a great American, patriot, and hero. He has profoundly changed our school for the better in all respects.

“General Peay and his wife Pamela serve as a model of dedicated service to our nation and the Commonwealth.

“We wish them well in their future endeavors.

“The Board of Visitors must immediately turn its attention to the search for our new superintendent. In doing so, we will stay focused on our mission of preparing citizen- soldiers from all walks of life. I ask that our alumni remain focused on the positive mission and support the Institute and Board as we secure a future in which the Institute continues to contribute in unique and vital ways to our nation and state.”

Virginia Military Institute Board of Visitors
Brig. Gen. Bob Moreschi (Photo: Courtesy Virginia Military Institute)

Brig. Gen. Robert Moreschi has been named acting superintendent of VMI.

A representative from Northam’s office shared the following statement with WFXR News in response to the resignation of VMI’s superintendent.

“As the nation’s oldest state-run military college, VMI has the opportunity to counter-balance a long legacy with a clear-eyed view of the future.

“Change is overdue at VMI, and the Board of Visitors bears a deep responsibility to embrace it. Diversity is a fundamental commitment. Without this recognition, VMI cannot properly educate future citizen-soldiers nor live up to its values of honor, character, and service.

“The Governor is committed to ensuring all Virginia institutions of higher education are sustainable, successful, and welcoming to all students, faculty, and staff. He wishes General Peay well and is grateful for his decades of public service.”

Alena Yarmosky, Press Secretary for the Office of Gov. Ralph Northam

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said the governor did the right thing opening an investigation into allegations of systemic racism.

“The Governor has acted appropriately to commission an independent study of the disturbing allegations of racial bias and harassment at VMI,” Kaine said. “The school’s worthy mission of creating citizen-soldiers is incompatible with allowing racial division to persist and fester. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will await the results of the independent study. But I encourage the school to grapple with the fact that honoring those who fought to preserve slavery, even to the point of willingness to destroy our nation, can no longer be justified.”

A letter from VMI addressed to the governor last week denied the existence of systemic racism.

“However, systemic racism does not exist here and a fair and independent review will find that to be true,” John William Boland wrote in the letter, which a school spokesman provided to The Associated Press and WFXR News.

“To suggest that there is some sort of systematic racism here at VMI is just unfounded,” said Bill Wyatt, Director of Communications at VMI.

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