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New interim superintendent of Virginia Military Institute talks about first week on the job

Published: Dec. 4, 2020 at 4:58 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) - A journey just five days in the making.

“The first week has been the typical fire hose treatment, you’ve got your mouth and you’re drinking from a fire hose,” said Major General Cedtric T Wins.

Major General Wins is the first Black man to lead VMI in its 181-year history.

It’s a history that’s rich as cadets fought and died for the Confederacy in the Civil War. Present day, a racism investigation continues.

“The statements that have come out and the articles that have been written are central as to why I was brought down here, and I think they are central to how we define the problem of what we need to understand about VMI, what I need to understand about VMI,” said Wins.

At the end of October, General J.H Binford Peay III resigned from the superintendent position after 17 years. The resignation came just days after Governor Northam alongside 10 other state leaders called for the independent investigation.

“Does VMI as an institution and with its leaders, do policies and practices, in any way condone support racism, sexism, or any type of intolerance like that? From what I’ve seen initially I would say no,” said Wins.

That said, Wins has and says he will continue to acknowledge the roots of the country’s oldest state funded military college.

“There’s no denying the history of VMI, as it relates to the time in which it was founded, the Civil War, the Confederacy. But what you want to do, what I want to do is to help people understand what VMI has been able to accomplish over its extensive history.”

While a cadet, Wins played basketball and became one of the top 5 scorers in school history. When asked about what impact alumni play, he referenced something said by a former basketball coach.

“As we were working his camp, that you know ‘the camp is for the campers,’ and as alumni, we have a rich experience that we carry with us of how VMI was for us, but for young men and women of today, the experience is going to be different.”

Wins says one of his main goals is to examine the diversity of the institute, especially within the administration and staff. He’ll take the next 30-45 days to work on his own assessment of what present day VMI looks like.

As far as Wins assuming the role permanently, he said there would be a time when he would discuss with his family, but the Board of Visitors has already told Wins there would be opportunity for that if he so chooses.

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