Alumni and Friends of VMI:
Cyber Corps Numbers: 583
Spending Investigation: A number of articles have appeared during the past several weeks about the investigation into Gen Bunting's expenditures. I have provided a couple below.
Friday, August 06, 1999
Board of Visitors chairman concedes superintendent's expenditures violated guidelines
VMI alumni react to spending
Some have called Josiah Bunting's use of $35,000 for office renovation and other items extravagant.
By MATT CHITTUM
THE ROANOKE TIMES
Spending by Virginia Military Institute Superintendent Josiah Bunting III probably will be found in violation of state regulations, the VMI Board of Visitors chairman told the rest of the board in a memo last week.
"I am confident we will be criticized by the State Auditor for not following State Purchase Procedures," Bruce Gottwald wrote in the memo. "We didn't."
Gottwald also acknowledged that many board members were "caught off-guard with a lack of information" after news of the state auditor of public accounts' investigation into Bunting's spending became public July 29.
He called the stories in The Roanoke Times "venomous" and a "needless attack" on Bunting.
Gottwald said he urged board members to resist public comment on the investigation and leave it to VMI's public relations office. He said the board "looked disjointed" in the articles. Several board members were quoted, some expressing consternation at their lack of information.
In response to the memo, Charles Lindsey, who was quoted on the matter in at least two newspapers, said, "I'm going to do what I need to do to fulfill my obligation as a board member."
Board member S. Waite Rawls III spoke in defense of Bunting's spending.
Rawls attributed any rules violations to "bookkeeping procedures." He said all of Bunting's spending was in line with what the board expected as part of Bunting's mission to raise money and reach out to alumni alienated by VMI's decision to admit women. Bunting is about to take the helm of a $150 million to $200 million fund-raising campaign.
"I would be upset if he wasn't spending the money," Rawls said.
Bunting has been VMI's superintendent for four years, and the questionable expenses go back almost that far.
The investigation began after VMI officials became concerned about certain expenditures from the Superintendent's Allotment -- Bunting's $100,000-plus discretionary fund.
When state purchasing and procurement officials came to VMI in April on a routine audit, VMI's business office told them about their concerns. After completing their audit, the state accountants notified VMI of questionable expenses. In compliance with state law, VMI then notified the Auditor of Public Accounts and the state police.
Among the questionable expenses are $16,000 worth of flowers bought since January 1997 for decorations, funerals and gifts, some of which were sent with cards signed only "Si and Diana Bunting," with no mention of VMI. Bunting also bought about $12,000 worth of books for gifts and for his own reading.
Gifts and flowers are not considered legitimate expenses under VMI and state accounting regulations. Those regulations also bar the purchase of alcohol, but Bunting's expense vouchers show numerous $350 receipts for liquor and wine for his house, where he entertains guests of the college.
Some alumni have also criticized Bunting's spending of $35,000 for office renovation and other items as extravagant and self-serving.
Bunting overspent the discretionary account by a total of $120,000 in his first three years. The annual budget for the account has increased from $50,000 before Bunting to $100,000 during his first three years. In 1998 it was $115,000. This year it's budgeted for $140,000. None of the funds comes from taxpayers.
"We've got to give him [Bunting] a lot of flexibility to travel and entertain and reach out to alumni," Rawls said.
Bunting has a responsibility to present a dignified image on behalf of the institute, said 1962 VMI graduate Pat Lang. "These things are appropriate in light of that responsibility."
"If you want to have a first-class reputation, you've got to be first class," said John Moore, a 1993 VMI graduate. "My faith in General Bunting has not been shaken."
Rawls said even the money spent on books is within the institute's mission, because Bunting is a scholar with an enormous appetite for literature.
"That voracious reading makes him who he is," Rawls said. "If the state won't give him books to read, the foundation certainly should."
Even buying copies of Bunting's own book, "An Education for Our Time," with state money is OK, Rawls said, because the book reflects well on VMI.
But other alumni, some of whom donate the money that Bunting spends, disagree.
"It bothers me if that money is being used to support the superintendent," said Gene Grayson, who for 25 years led fund-raising efforts for the class of 1958. "We feel like what we give, the foundation spends it to the betterment of the corps" of cadets.
"I feel that former superintendents have served VMI well, and not for their personal gain. Not so with ... Bunting," said Howard Moss, class of 1954. Moss admits he's never been a Bunting fan. "I think Bunting's done more damage to VMI than General [David] Hunter did when he burned it down during the Civil War."
Others criticized Bunting's spending as inconsistent with what is expected of VMI graduates.
"It's most disturbing to see VMI officials not adhere to the personal character traits forever associated with our alumni -- honesty, integrity, honor above self," said Dabney Oakley, a 1971 graduate.
"Josiah Bunting knows the language of honor and leadership, but not the practice," said 1954 graduate Tom Wright. "It is he who must first be held accountable. The board of visitors has the initial responsibility to hold him accountable and themselves to the governor and the people of Virginia. At VMI, we were all taught that when we made mistakes, we were to stand up and admit our mistake, make amends for the mistake and accept the consequences as responsible free men."
It remains unclear, however, when VMI will know if there's anything Bunting must be held accountable for.
The state auditor of public accounts has finished his report on the investigation and turned it over to the Virginia State police for review. The state police can choose to pursue criminal charges against Bunting or find no criminal violation and return the report to the auditor. But until the state police make a decision, the report won't be released to VMI or the public.
The VMI board meets again this month, but two seats on the panel are open and Gov. Jim Gilmore has yet to fill them.
Lindsey, board member, is eager to deal with the spending questions, but is frustrated by not having the report.
"It's critical to the board that this audit be released to us as soon as possible so that we can make a determination as to how to proceed."
Bunting's conduct at issue
Sunday, August 8, 1999
BY JEFF E. SCHAPIRO
Times-Dispatch Staff Writer
Maj. Gen. Josiah S. Bunting III, superintendent of Virginia Military Institute, is facing another public relations challenge -- himself.
Credited with quickly addressing the controversies that have embroiled the storied school since he took command in 1995, Bunting now finds his personal conduct under scrutiny.
State police, based on a report by the auditor of public accounts, are investigating whether Bunting broke state law by spending thousands in VMI funds on gifts for friends of the college, and liquor, books and flowers for his college-provided quarters, where he frequently is host to school visitors.
"The biggest difficulty that [Bunting] faces is that he feels he can't be very forthright about this until the auditor releases his report," said Maj. Chuck Steenburgh, VMI's assistant public relations director.
As a politician, former state Sen. Elmon T. Gray, D-Sussex, a 1946 graduate of VMI and long its protector in the General Assembly, knows something about crisis management. And he says there's little that Bunting can do -- for now.
"I'm reminded of what my campaign manager and her father used to say: 'With manure, the best thing to do is not stir it,'" said Gray. "Just march on."
Bunting, who returned Thursday to VMI from a vacation in Newport, R.I., is declining requests for interviews. He did tell The Washington Post on July 29 that the money, held in a discretionary account, did not cover personal expenses.
Rather, it went to official entertainment and other activities promoting VMI. Still, Bunting told the newspaper, some of the expenses were "things that a competent and diligent auditor would question."
The investigation may be a reminder that these days, controversy seems to be a constant at VMI. But so, too, is Bunting's firm, chiseled presence.
In 1996, after the school lost in the U.S. Supreme Court a six-year battle to preserve its 150-year-old ban on women as students, Bunting left no doubt VMI would follow the law and avoid the embarrassments seen at The Citadel when the South Carolina military college admitted women.
Also in 1996, the institute apparently forced the resignation of football coach Bill Stewart for allegedly directing a racial slur at one of his players. Stewart is now suing Bunting and other VMI officials for alleged breach of contract.
And in June, VMI expelled Jerry B. Webb of Casper, Wyo., the incoming regimental commander of the Corps of Cadets -- the highest-ranking student officer -- for seeking sexual favors from three female students.
A recent graduate and Bunting supporter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, "Crisis management has been VMI's focus for the last four or five years -- the coed crisis, the football crisis. There's always some kind of a crisis. . . . The place is under a microscope. But now he finds himself in a crisis of sorts."
In this latest flap, members of the school's governing body, the board of visitors, as well as the overseers of the private foundation that provided dollars for the disputed discretionary account, are defending Bunting.
Another ally is F.E. Deacon III of Richmond, an investment advisor and president of the VMI Alumni Association. Of Bunting, Deacon said, "He is held to a very high standard and is accountable for his actions."
Given the institute's strict honor code -- that a cadet will not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do -- the dispute over Bunting's spending may be a source of discomfort for some.
"All VMI men are concerned about maintaining the honor code," said Gray. "We're awakened to the prospect that we have to work on that every day."
Bunting, who served as president of two single-sex colleges and was the headmaster of a prep school before taking over his alma mater VMI, faces pressures from the institute community and the community at-large.
Some tradition-bound alumni, for example, have complained about haircut regulations for women, that they were loosened at the expense of male cadets who are required to wear their hair in the high-and-tight military style.
Another beef among alumni and students: a decision by commandant of cadets Col. James N. Joyner -- and backed by the superintendent -- to house sophomores and juniors in barracks by company rather than class. The move was aimed at breaking up cliques.
"Anything that's changed at VMI is going to cause some grumbling -- any change," said Gray.
And Bunting hears a lot of it.
"Being the top guy, he takes the blame for it," said Steenburgh.
Against this backdrop comes continuing scrutiny of VMI by the federal courts. The school is under the supervision of a U.S. District Court judge to make sure that female cadets are treated fairly.
Now add the auditor and state police inquiry into Bunting's discretionary account. Though all the spending was fully disclosed, questions about its appropriateness emerged during a routine state audit of VMI's books.
Prominent alumni such as Robert H. Patterson Jr. of Richmond, who led the legal team that unsuccessfully fought to preserve VMI's male-only admissions policy, say that the gifts and other expenses are crucial to Bunting's efforts to successfully market the school.
Patterson said Bunting is doing a "helluva job," adding, "That requires the expenditure of money."
Nevertheless, VMI is likely to more tightly control such spending.
"The most likely outcome is that there might be a procedural or policy violation that can be rectified," said Steenburgh. "The real question is, did we dot all the i's and cross all the t's?"
Thursday, August 05, 1999
School braces for tighter federal control
Feds take aim at VMI
The Justice Department is appealing a recent court order that calls for VMI to remain under federal scrutiny for at least 2 more years.
By MICHAEL HEMPHILL
THE ROANOKE TIMES
In a move that surprised state and school officials, the U.S. Department of Justice is appealing a recent court order -- one it had sought -- that requires the Virginia Military Institute to remain under federal scrutiny for at least two more years.
This week's one-sentence notice of appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gives no reason for the petition, and Justice Department officials declined to comment. But state officials are bracing for another attempt by federal authorities to seek greater supervision over the Lexington school.
"When the federal court told VMI to resume filing quarterly reports, it expressly rejected DOJ's attempt to quote micromanage endquote the institute," said William Hurd, senior counsel in the state Attorney General's office, which represents VMI. "VMI has done a good job and we are confident the court of appeals will agree that federal micromanagement is inappropriate."
At issue is a June 4 order by U.S. District Judge Jackson Kiser, who has overseen the school's integration since 1996 when the U.S. Supreme Court found VMI's admission policy unconstitutional. The policy was challenged when the Justice Department filed a discrimination lawsuit in 1990.
Kiser dismissed the lawsuit in January, ruling the school had successfully integrated women into its program. However, he reinstated it in June at the Justice Department's request and ordered the school to continue filing quarterly status reports. But he rejected calls for increased scrutiny.
"Had VMI conducted itself in a less responsible manner over the past three years, or had some of the government's concerns over VMI's good faith come to fruition, such oversight might be justified," Kiser wrote. "I see no need to impose more burdensome reporting requirements."
Since then, however, VMI has been hit with its first major scandal.
In late June, VMI revealed that cadet Jerry B. Webb II was expelled the last week of school for allegedly demanding sex from three women cadets. Before his expulsion, Webb had been tapped to be regimental commander of the Corps of Cadets.
Two weeks ago, state attorneys submitted to Kiser a supplemental report to VMI's regular quarterly report. This report was sealed. But Wednesday, David Botkins, spokesman for Attorney General Mark Earley, said it concerned the Webb incident.
"We felt it important, as did VMI, that the court have full disclosure of that incident, because they [the court] have had such a keen interest, and appropriately so, of what's happening at VMI," Botkins said.
It's unclear whether this incident sparked the Justice Department's action. No hearing date has been set to argue the appeal.
Of VMI's 1,200 cadets, 46 are women. Another 30 are expected to enroll for the coming year.
VMI Names Toney New Assistant Athletic Director
Virginia Military Institute athletic director Donny White announced last Friday that Dennis Toney has been named assistant athletic director at the Institute.
Toney, 48, comes to VMI after serving as assistant athletic director at the University of Massachusettes since 1996. While at Amherst, Toney directed game operations and event management for all university events and supervised ticket sales while also assisting the athletic director in revenue projections, public relations, and fund raising.
Toney's credentials include over a dozen years' experience in collegiate athletic administration. He worked nine years at the University of South Carolina, joining the Gamecocks in 1993 as an administrative assistant and assistant business manager before being named assistant Gamecock Club director in 1985. In 1988, Toney was promoted to Director of Ticket Operations at USC and managed the 10 employee staff that handled sales exceeding $8 million annually.
Toney also worked in the private sector from 1992 to 1996 as a financial consultant for Interstate Johnson Lane in Columbia, S.C.
A 1973 graduate of Bridgewater College, Toney earned a masters degree in Education from Virginia in 1979 and a masters in science from Ohio University in 1983.
A native of Buckingham County, Virginia, Toney began his athletic career in coaching and served as head football coach at Elkton (Va.) High School from 1974 to 1979 before serving as Altavista (Va.) High School football coach and Athletic Director for three years. Toney was also an assistant football coach at Ohio University while pursuing his masters degree.
In his new position at VMI, Toney will supervise the VMI Athletic Department internal operations including budgets, facility management, and the ticket office.
Toney and his wife, Pam, have a son, Andrew (20), and a daughter, Allison (13).
New Exhibits Enrich Battlefield Story
By Linda Wheeler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 24, 1999; Page B03
There is the teenager's gray jacket, with a ragged gunshot hole in the left shoulder.
Nearby, lies a woman's fan and Bible.
Then there is the red glass bowl used by a wife tending her injured husband.
They are part of a new exhibit on the First Battle of Manassas housed in a remodeled visitors center that opens today at Manassas National Battlefield Park.
Robert K. Sutton, the battlefield superintendent, said the 5,000-acre preserve, under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, draws more than a million visitors a year. He said the $1.6 million renovation gave him an opportunity to introduce some themes not previously explored in visitors center exhibits such as slavery as a cause of the war, the plight of civilians caught between the opposing armies and the contribution of women to the effort.
"In the past, we have done an absolutely superb job talking about tactics and commanders, and that is what most of our visitors come to hear," he said. "Now we want to be more inclusive, not because we want to draw more people but because I think it's very important for all the public to know the first casualty at First Manassas was Mrs. [Judith Carter] Henry, an elderly white woman."
The exhibit's fan and Bible belonged to Henry, whose house was on the Confederate line; too frail to flee, she stayed in her bed, where a bullet struck her on July 21, 1861. Teenager Charles Norris was wearing a gray Virginia Military Institute jacket and leading a company against the Union when a bullet shattered his shoulder, killing him on the spot. The bowl belonged to Fanny Ricketts, who nursed her badly wounded husband, Union Capt. James B. Ricketts, back to health in a Confederate prison.
Sutton's decision to expand the exhibit beyond the usual military themes reflects a growing interest in subjects other than the actual fighting. A seminar on Women and the Civil War was held last month in Winchester, and battle reenactments--more than 300 this year--are drawing men and women who portray civilians. Diaries, kept by bored soldiers and anxious wives, are being published, as are books that deal with the economic devastation caused by the war.
The new exhibit also includes a panel on slavery, inspired by Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) who came to see the battlefield about a year ago. Sutton said Jackson was well informed and presented some solid arguments for adding context to the information presented to visitors.
Jackson said this week that he has developed an obsession with the Civil War since arriving in Washington in 1995 because he has discovered that Congress is not so much divided between Democrats and Republicans as between Northerners and Southerners. He set off to visit more than 20 southern battlefields to better understand his colleagues. However, he found few of the exhibits put the war in context.
"They didn't answer the question of why the battle was fought," he said.
At Manassas, he found Sutton was willing to listen to his concerns and act on them. Jackson and Park Service Director Robert Stanton have been invited to take part in the 3 p.m. ceremony that officially opens the center, Sutton said.
As part of the day-long celebration, Park Service rangers will conduct battlefield tours, and reenactors representing the 14th Brooklyn Regiment and 4th Virginia Cavalry will present programs of military tactics. Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic dinner and listen to a concert by the Wildcat Regiment Band at 6 p.m. The event will conclude with a candlelight tour of the historic Stone House at 8 p.m.
Although the Park Service is marking the anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas this weekend and the new exhibits are devoted to that event, they have not ignored the Second Battle of Manassas, which took place on the same ground in 1862. Sutton said exhibits of that particular battle are housed in another building.
Sutton calls the new exhibits "artifact-rich," pointing to an 1861 oil portrait of Confederate Gen. P.T.G. Beauregard, who commanded 20,000 troops at Manassas, and several uniforms--representative of both sides--that have survived 138 years in almost perfect condition.
A special section is devoted to the Ricketts. The Union captain was shot four times during the battle and assumed dead; his comrades cut his tasseled, red-silk sash from his waist with the intention that it be sent to his wife. However, he survived, and the sash, cut in half, is part of the display.
Fanny Ricketts heard her husband had been killed, and after checking bodies on the battlefield and not finding him, she was given permission to enter a Confederate hospital where prisoners of war were being held.
In her diary, she wrote: "No words can describe the horrors around me. . . . On a table in the open hall, a man was undergoing the amputation of his leg. At the foot of the stairs, two bloody legs lay."
She found her husband and nursed him for several weeks, even following him to Libby Prison when he was transferred about a month later. She tended to him until he was freed in a prisoner exchange the following year. The red glass bowl that she used for soap and water is now part of the display.
Sutton said there is much more to learn about the civilian response to the battle. A diary written by a local woman, known only as Florence, tells her impressions of the battle as she watched it from the Confederate side. The next day she attended the funeral of Henry, the 85-year-old woman who was killed in her bed during the battle.
"We'd love to know who Florence was," Sutton said. "There are still so many mysteries, so much more to learn."
FROM THE ROANOKE TIMES:
Tuesday, August 03, 1999
IN THE REGION
VMI Hall to induct 7
Former NFL wide receiver Mark Stock is one of seven men who will be inducted into the VMI Sports Hall of Fame on Sept. 10.
Stock, a consensus Division I-AA All-American in 1988, owns school career records for catches (165), receiving yards (3,091) and touchdown receptions (20). He was drafted by Pittsburgh in the sixth round of the 1989 NFL draft and played for the Steelers, Washington and Indianapolis.
Joining Stock are Tom Joynes, VMI athletic director from 1970-84; Tim Bridges ('79), a four-time Southern Conference hurdles champion; Dave Hope ('88), the leading scorer in VMI lacrosse history with 175 career goals and 239 career points; Karl Klinar ('54), who scored 1,078 points in three basketball seasons ; Brad Lampshire ('60), named outstanding swimmer in the Southern Conference in 1959 and '60; and Jeff Roseme ('82), a four-time Southern Conference javelin champ.
VMI Rings Turn Up In Some Interesting Places:
Thursday, August 12, 1999
'I just saw something shiny in the water'
VMI family finds ring from Class of 1912
The director of the summer camp where the ring was found is trying to track down the owner's surviving relatives.
By MATT CHITTUM
THE ROANOKE TIMES
Who better than Alex Butler to retrieve the lost ring of a long-dead Virginia Military Institute graduate from the rocky bed of the Greenbrier River?
There he was at camp in Greenbrier County, W.Va., two weeks ago, snorkel and mask in place, face dunked into the river.
"I just saw something shiny in the water," Alex said Wednesday. He snatched it and rose from the light rapids to discover he'd found a worn but clearly recognizable 1912 VMI class ring.
Recognizable to Alex because the 11-year-old has VMI in his veins.
Alex's grandfather Bob Butler, a 1938 VMI graduate, served as commandant at his alma mater for two years in the late 1950s.
His mother's family, the Moncures, has sent more than a dozen men to VMI, beginning in the 1850s. Alex has a provisional appointment to VMI, meaning that if he qualifies when he's old enough, space will be made for him if he wants it.
Finding the ring, "is like drawing to an inside straight," Bob Butler said. "It doesn't happen often enough." Butler still wears his VMI ring every day, except when he's gardening.
But plenty of VMI grads have lost their prized rings, only to have them turn up in unusual places.
The three sons of Gil and Douglas Butler and the other kids who attend Camp Greenbrier each summer are used to finding stuff in the river.
But it's typically golf balls and cans, said Billy Butler, 14.
"Usually, it's something we lost last year," said camp director Bob Hood. "Never anything like this. Nothing that could be identified."
Alex's find had the whole camp talking, giving him a little fame, and sending Hood on a mission to find out to whom it belonged, and how it may have ended up in the river.
"We don't know if this ring's been in the water a month or 50 years," Hood said. "It just struck us as a mystery, something to look into."
The owner of the ring, whose name is engraved inside it, was Robert Lawson Eastham of Harrisonburg.
His nickname at VMI was "Red," derived apparently from what his yearbook describes as "the peculiar shade of his hair."
Eastham played football for three years at VMI, though judging by the remarkably small size of his ring, he was slight in stature.
He also had a deep interest in the military, his yearbook indicates.
But despite several attempts to enlist, Eastham was never allowed to serve, other records in the VMI archives show.
At the outbreak of World War I, Eastham was admitted to an officers training camp at Fort Myers but later was discharged "on account of a physical examination," he wrote in a letter on file at VMI. He tried to get in at least two more times, but was refused for the same reason.
He subsequently served as a high school history and English teacher in Elkton and as commandant of the now-defunct Gulf Coast Military Academy in Gulfport, Miss., VMI records show.
He lived in Roanoke at some point, an obituary on file at VMI shows. Eastham died in May 1942 at age 53, while he was living in Marion. Subsequent letters sent to his widow by VMI, however, were mailed to an address on Albemarle Avenue Southwest in Roanoke.
Camp director Hood said one of Eastham's children, a daughter named Antoinette, could still be alive. She would be in her mid-70s, Hood speculated.
"One way or another, we're going to find someone in his family," Hood said.
Alex would like to see the ring given to someone to whom it has real meaning.
"If they find that lady, give it to her," he said. "But if they don't find it, give it back to VMI."
Alex's mother, Douglas, said she is thrilled that Alex wants to see the ring returned.
Alex has no desire to keep it. In fact, he has no desire to earn one of his own.
Provisional appointment or not, Alex wants no part of the shouting and calisthenics and general misery of life at VMI.
At VMI, "You can't do much," he said. "I might change my mind, but right now, it doesn't look good."
Alumni in the San Diego, Area?: Mike Hooper
'87 relocated to the San Diego, CA area and is interested to
learn if any other alumni are in that neck of the woods. If so,
please contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next Meeting of the Alumni Association Board: I do believe that the next meeting will take place Sept 10 and 11. Details can be obtained by calling the alumni office at 1-800-444-1839.
That's it for this week. And, by the way, Myrtle Beach was great. I had the pleasure of having lunch with Tom and Pat Drumwright '50B. I will be in DC on and off for the next couple months and would like to get together with alumni in that area. If anyone is interested in a dinner with some area alums, please drop me an e-mail and I'll coordinate.
Yours in the Spirit,
RB Lane '75
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