VMI Cyber Corps

Alumni and Friends of VMI:

Cyber Corps Numbers: 575

VMI Alumni Association Meeting: I recently received the minutes from the April 10 meeting of the Board of Directors of the VMI Alumni Association. Over the next few weeks I will pass along portions of the minutes. For the sake of brevity I will extract portions of the minutes, but will attempt to do so in such as way as not to change the context of what transpired during the meeting. Please note that certain words are in bold. These are not my editorial preferences, but rather as the words appeared in the minutes.

Remarks from Alumni Association President Bert Deacon '77:

Mr. Deacon made it very clear that the sentiments from alumni - across the United States - canvassing all generations - represented a broad breadth of disappointment and concern that Mr. Liddy was the 1999 Commencement Speaker at VMI. Mr. Deacon has expressed his views, on behalf of VMI Alumni, to the Superintendent and the President of the Board of Visitors, regarding the sentiments from alumni. Earlier this spring, the President of the Board of Visitors and Mr. Deacon met with approximately 15 leaders of the Corps and encouraged these First Class leaders to reconsider this selection. Mr. Deacon said that this year's First Class, on average, were born five years after Watergate and the cadets view Mr. Liddy as a conservative talk show host, nothing more. More importantly, Mr. Deacon said that although the VMI family as a whole does not support his selection, it is important to support the First Class's right to choose whomever they desire. Mr. Deacon considered this a most regrettable, but dead issue.

Mr. Deacon thanked the Committee Chairmen and their respective members for the hard work they have done on behalf of the Association and VMI. Assisting and supporting VMI, the Association is moving forward on multiple priorities to include Academics, the Co-curriculum, Athletics, Recruiting, Nominating and Alumni Placement. Strong emphasis within the Co-curriculum is placed on restoring the VMI Dyke System and a number of alumni - from a wide variety of classes - will be attending an all day session in Lexington with the incoming leaders of the First Class to discuss the dyke system. Col. Joyner will chair the meeting. Later in the summer another meeting will be scheduled with the upcoming nine class officers with former alumni who were class officers ranging from the 40's through the 80's. The purpose of the meeting is to pass along the various experiences and styles from these former leaders in the corps and to communicate the legacy of the class system - and how these gentlemen led their respective first class and barracks.

Remarks from the Superintendent:

The Superintendent began his remarks by stating that applications for admission to VMI are up significantly with about 1200 applications this years compared to 890 in 1995. We are encouraged by the increase but still have a great deal of work to do. Out-of-state applications from Virginia have decreased, but we will continue to work on this aspect of our program.

The estimated new female matriculates in the fall of 1999 will be about 40 - giving us a total of approximately 90 young women or 8% of the Corps. He then stated that VMI would be back in court on April 16th because the Justice Department doesn't feel that we are giving sufficient information on the assimilation of women at the Institute.

General Bunting announced plans for a major conference on the Korean War to be held at VMI on Sept. 14, 2000 which coincides with the war's 50th anniversary. Along with our alumni who were a part of that war, we will invite people from all over the country, scholars, writers, soldiers and also special guests from Korea, Russia and China to participate in this major American retrospective on that war. As you know, General Marshall played a significant role in the war and some of his important papers are here in the Marshall Library.

There are many small missions at VMI and all merge into a larger purpose. The purpose is the education of young people who will be patriotic Americans with integrity and intelligence and whose instinct will be to lead to and take positions of responsibility. With all of the hundreds of traditions, customs, regulations and expectations we have at VMI, to this larger end there is a wider culture at the Institute within which all of this takes place. When we ask "how are things in barracks?" we refer specifically to this culture. The largest influence on that culture is the America of 1999. It is a world that is extraordinary different from the world of the 40s, 50s and 60s. It is an American culture that underwrites and expects instant gratification. It is obsessed with possessions and status. It is a culture in which sexual and other moralities are much different from the way they were honored in our time. I should remind all of you again that almost all of our cadets come from high schools where virtually everyone cheats or tolerates those who do cheat, where almost everyone drinks alcohol or uses drugs or both; and where almost no one goes into the military. These considerations impose new challenges to VMI. The principles that undergird our convictions do no change and they will not change, but when imposing them or teaching them to our cadets, we must from time to time adapt our needs and methodologies to the tenor of the times.

The best instruments in working VMI's magic are superb professors and administrators, leaders and coaches. The most potent agent of education anywhere is for an adult who lives his own life in full view of those he leads and teaches; in which life is lived according to a set of standards from which he tries not to deviate. I've always believed this and I am certain most VMI men believe it. When you look on your high school years or time at VMI you remember certain people like John McKenna, Herbert Dillard or Doc Carroll. There are hundreds of these icons, it is your memory of their philosophy and discipline which reminds you of what kind of people they were and this strengthens your own convictions about how you should live your life some 20, 30 or 50 years down the pike.

One of the areas in which we have done poorly and which I have done poorly at VMI, has to do with the relationships with the different sub-groups on Post to other groups. I want to be as precise as I can when I talk about this. A large instance of what I am going to talk about concerns the foreseen breach and the real breach between the athletes and non-athletes. All of you know about it. We talk about it. We deplore it. We resent it. We have diagnosed it and now we're going to fix it. The tendency at VMI is to marinate in diagnosis. We have to move quickly to prescription and implementation. About one-third of the Corps participates in varsity sports, about 400 of our cadets, male and female. There are 13 active intercollegiate sports and a number of club sports. In the current climate in 1999 among varsity athletes, the expectation is that athletes will follow that sport all year round. If you walk around the parade ground on October 1, you will see some 60 lacrosse players practicing fiercely for some two hours as they do four or five days a week. Their season begins in March and ends early in May, but even in a sport like lacrosse, a middle ranking college sport, fairly interesting in this part of the country, they train all year round. Varsity athletes are on permit and most of them train year round.

If you have a child that goes to a college that cost $31,000 a year, we use the word tuition, but actually the tuition is about $20,000 and the rest is room and board and other incidentals. We use the word athletics in the same spirit at VMI as a synonym for football. We talk about athletics but most of us in the back of our brains have the idea of football. I want to talk a few minutes about football because it is something to which we devote a huge amount of psychic energy, great amounts of money, much emotion and much time, not to mention the 80 athletes and 55 full scholarships.

We need this fall to fuse the football team with the Corps of Cadets - bring them together, to bound them, to heal them, and repair this breach. To do this we have to do two things successfully and at the same time. First, we have to confirm and assure that all players and all members of the Corps understand that the players are fully fledged, full-time cadets before they are football players and that they are athletes second. All Rat football players must understand that they are rats and VMI cadets before football. They must understand that their paramount mission and our paramount mission is an academic education. Second, we have to give them the means and chance to compete successfully with other colleges. We have to do both of these at the same time. If we can't, we have no business trying to play football here at any level. Col. Leroy Hammond and Donny White, our athletic director, and a number of cadets and faculty members have been working for four months on a program taking the form of a set of expectations and new initiatives which I think will go a long way toward ending this breach. I should say in the beginning, in that regard, that West Point, Annapolis and Air Force academies have something of an advantage over us, not only for obvious reasons, but also because they bring in their Rats, or first year cadets, in late June and run them through a very hard, very physically demanding nine week ratline. And that involves every football player, every lacrosse player and every poet - everyone you can think of, no exceptions are made. At the end of that nine-week period they actually have a ceremony in which the plebes are welcomed into their companies. Thereafter, they are treated as plebes but without the constant grinding attention being given as we do our rats here at VMI. In other words, the football players who are plebes go through this very tough right of passage as everyone else and they finish it and move on to the regular school year with the other upperclassmen. It means for us at VMI, a larger more conservative test rather than contempt for a 17-year old that comes to this school to be a cadet and hopes to play football. We must assure that our rats go through and are perceived as going through the same early demands of the rat system as everyone else. At the same time what they are doing will demand a much better and more vivid appreciation by the rest of the Corps about what college football demands and a respect for that effort. Rat football players arrive at VMI on August 6th and they will have almost three weeks of two and three-a-day practice sessions and then during the last week they will have the cadre period. They are rats and will be exposed to all the demands of the ratline. But the third classmen who are charged with their immediate supervision, the third class corporals, will start off with an attitude which says, "This is a good kid who's trying very hard, who wants to be a VMI cadet; and being a football player is NOT a sin."

VMI, in the last few years, has developed a kind of mean spiritedness among certain groups in barracks and one of those groups, a fairly large number of thirds and sometimes second classmen, mostly devoted to the military aspect of this school, take an immediate contemptuous attitude towards all athletes, even towards good kids who are trying very hard. One of the things that has been recommended by this study group, will be a concerted effort to try to educate the upperclassmen returning early to the realities of the demands imposed by Division I athletics. In effect we are saying to them, you can help VMI make a choice as to our future. Our new coach, Cal McCombs, a graduate of The Citadel, class of 1967, and his entire staff most enthusiastically underwrites this effort. Cal was at Air Force Academy for 15 years, is the old-fashioned Southern football disciplinarian, much charisma, large amount of imagination, loves this school and the whole aspect of the school and believes that you can have a football program in this culture and make it successful if you use it as an ally, not an enemy. I expect he is going to do this. Most of his talks to the team have been about academics and military, not just football. Every alumnus should be proud of this staff and hopefully, will give them a chance to bring the Corps and the team together. We owe it to them to give our support.

The superintendent concluded his remarks with a brief statement concerning the G. Gordon LIddy episode. If you want to blame someone directly and personally, blame me. I regard it as my fault and a failure of leadership on my part. I'm willing to take the full blame for that. I've had a good superintendency but I have made some mistakes and this is a bad one. The minute I heard the man's name I should have come down on them like this an Otis, but I didn't - so blame me.

Future updates will include other excerpts from the Alumni Association meeting minutes.

Cyber Corps T-Shirts, Polo Shirts, etc: And, here's some information about VMI Cyber Corps gear...
Polo Shirts - Blake and Hollister
7 oz Vertical Raised stitch pique
s - xl: $30
xxl: $32

Hats - the Final Word in Headwear
6 panel washed cotton w/leather strap

T-shirts - Fruit of the Loom super cotton
7 oz 100% cotton jersey
all sizes are $10

This is just to give everyone a ball park idea of the prices. This week I'll check into seeing how much it'll cost to get them shipped to those that place orders. I believe that we have to order them in lots of 12, but I'll double check on this. I don't imagine shipping will be too expensive, but I'll look into it. If you want to get a look at the Cyber Corps logo, go to the Electronic Turnouts site. But please remember that the Cyber Corps logo is drawn to scale unlike the one found at that website. Just imagine a regular VMI spider with the Cyber Corps wording and the lightning bolt through it. Electronic turnout site address is: http://www.rtp.opensystems.com/vmi/turnout.htm. More info next week!

That's it for this week.

RB Lane '75

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Last Updated: October 11, 2009

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