Virginia Military Institute’s first black superintendent faces backlash from alumni of the school


A Virginia Military Institute alumni group is publicly questioning why the college’s first black superintendent received a “more generous” bonus than last year.

Retired Army Major General Cedric T. Wins has served as Superintendent of the Military Public College since 2020. He initially took on the role on a transitional basis after General JH Binford Peay III resigned following allegations of a racist culture at the school. Wins officially landed the role last year.

Spirit of VMI, a political action committee of alumni, parents and friends of the school, issued a statement earlier this month questioning why the VMI Board of Visitors approved a $100,000 bonus for Wins in September.

“SOVP wonders what performance metrics the BOV used to bestow such a generous award and such a sharp increase,” the group said in a statement, adding that “major concerns have been raised among alumni and friends about the direction of VMI” and there was a drop in applications.

Bill Wyatt, VMI’s director of communications and marketing, declined to comment specifically on the alumni group’s statement, but spoke about Wins’ accomplishments.

Wins makes an annual salary of $625,000 and last year received a $25,000 bonus. Based on his performance in the 2021-2022 school year, the VMI Visiting Committee awarded him a $100,000 bonus, Wyatt told CNN.

When asked about Wins’ performance, Wyatt said the superintendent has guided the institute through the Covid-19 pandemic, guided the school through an examination of its diversity and inclusion practices and launched a diversity, equity and inclusion program.

Based in Lexington, Virginia, VMI is a public military college with approximately 1,700 enrolled students. Last year, VMI enrolled 102 black students — about 6% of the student body.

In the wake of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, investigative reports in The Roanoke Times and The Washington Post detailed allegations by black students and alumni against the school, including stories of a now-defunct practice of requiring freshmen to study a now greet removed statue of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, Confederate general and former VMI professor.

This reporting prompted Virginia officials to launch an investigation into the institute and led to the resignation of former Superintendent Peay.