VMI Wins with Wins as Interim Superintendent

Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins

by James A. Bacon

The Virginia Military Institute has appointed retired Army Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, an African-American, as interim superintendent. He will serve while the Board of Visitors searches for a permanent replacement for retired Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, who resigned after Governor Ralph Northam announced an investigation into charges of “relentless racism” at the military academy.

You can read a straight news story about the appointment in the Richmond Times-Dispatch here.

You can read a jaundiced joke of a “news” story about the appointment by so-called “reporter” Ian Shapira in the Washington Post here.

First a few facts about Wins…. He graduated from VMI in 1985, sixteen years after the military academic was desegregated, and spent 34 years in the Army. Son of an Army veteran and police officer, Wins, now 57, attended VMI on a basketball scholarship and starred as a shooting guard. He remains on the team’s top all-five scorer’s list. After earning a degree in economics, he was required to serve three years in the Army. As the RTD recounts, although he had never intended to make the Army career, the Army kept presenting him with opportunities, and he kept on taking them. His final post before retirement was commander of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, the Army’s largest technology developer.

Among the more interesting revelations Wins made in an interview with RTD reporter (no quote marks required) Eric Kolenich: Although he did hear derogatory racial comments from opposing fans during basketball games, he said, he never experienced racism at VMI.

That fact never appears in Shapira’s story, in which he recaps allegations he dredged up in previous articles. Shapira leads his story this way: “Under fierce attack over racism in its ranks, the Virginia Military Institute has appointed a Black man to lead the school. …”

In the third paragraph Shapira notes that Northam ordered an independent investigation of what the governor — in the frenzy generated by Shapira’s derogatory story — called “the clear and appalling culture of ongoing structural racism.”

Shapira allows three paragraphs to recount Wins’ background and provide quotes from an email he sent to VMI alumni. He then goes on to repackage allegations of racism from his previous articles.

By way of actual reporting, Shapira does quote Michael Purdy, a VMI graduate and attorney who campaigned to take down the Stonewall Jackson statue, and E. Sean Lanier, a VMI grad who Northam announced Friday will become VMI’s fourth black board member. Both Purdy and Lanier approved of Wins’ appointment.

Unlike Kolenich, Shapira did not interview Wins.

Here’s what he might have found out. Wins said that as society changes, so must VMI change. “Your have to periodically take a look at how things are going relative to the model that you have and the young men and women who come into VMI from various walks of life.”

The essence of VMI — its honor system, its regimental system, the rat line and barracks life — won’t be altered. Those elements of the school teach duty, discipline and attention to detail, he said, and they are why VMI has produced great leaders.

Wins expects to name an individual or a team of people to advise him and the board on the topic of inclusion. The board has laid out a list of initiatives that he has begun to study, and he says the school will face the independent investigation with full transparency. Wins wants to find out what works and what needs to be changed.

“Those things that we know that need to be corrected, we’re going to take action, and we’re going to take action swiftly, if possible,” he said.

Shapira

Note what Wins did not say or do. He did not endorse Shapira’s charge that VMI is a “relentlessly racist” institution. Like any prudent person would do, it appears that Wins will draw his own conclusions, which will be informed by the findings of the state investigation, which has been funded to the tune of $1 million. A report is due in June.

Twin separated at birth?

Clearly, Wins does not approach the job with the preconceived notions of Princeton pajama boy Ian Shapira, who shares the stereotypes and prejudices of the white elite that runs the Washington Post. With every article he posts, he digs himself deeper, committing himself to the narrative that VMI is a racist hell hole. I don’t know who will conduct the investigation or what the findings will be, but any query will have to be more comprehensive and balanced than Shapira’s agenda-driven scribblings.

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31 responses to “VMI Wins with Wins as Interim Superintendent

  1. It is unfortunate that a fine man such as retired Army Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, an African-American, has gained his position at VIM as a result of a race baiting vote buyer scheme engineered by the Washington Post and Virginia Democratic party run by Ralph Northam. Of course, this should be no surprise. It is the way Northam won his governorship of Virginia. And it’s also the way the Washington Post Poll showing Trump losing Wisconsin by 17 points just before 2020 presidential election helped to suppress Republican voting in that state, among many.

    Of course, along the way the Washington Post has a long history of severely damaging many otherwise fine young reporters.

  2. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    I have a lot of confidence in General Wins. I believe he will help the Institute in many useful ways. In fact this could be the Institute’s finest hour in the still young 21st century.

    • I disagree. However fine the man, he cannot change the squalid circumstances of the prior superintendent’s removal, and the awful precedence it sets for the future.

      • The best thing for the school is to let the water pass under that bridge, Reed. I want what is best for the school. That is more important than scoring points on Gov. Northam, who is entering Lame Duckdom anyway.

        • Virginia’s Republican party has been letting water pass under their bridge for so long, they’re now left standing on the far shore, naked, unarmed and afraid with no way to get back to America, save for a desperate air lift out akin to Saigon’s in 1975.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            Not saying that is a fact, Steve. Only that it seems to be mood prevailing there. It’s attitude that needs fixing. Otherwise it will be an airlift for sure sooner than we think, at rate things are going. Sharks are circling ever faster.

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      I thought you quit?

  3. Feeling groovy! But to bring up my sparring with Reed, why should my state tax dollars (my tax dollars you freaking Republican!) support a military college when only half of the grads actually go into the military?What’s the point? Because Stonewall would have liked it? Somehow I doubt that. You are dealing with Lost Cause emotions and not reality.

    • Pytor,

      It’s not a “military college”. It’s a Virginia University, it merely offers several ROTC programs and requires it’s applicants to participate in service (much like a fraternity) .

      What’s the point of your comment, you’re still commenting on a topic that you are completely and utterly unfit to speak upon. Learn to research, since you fancy yourself a journalist.

    • Tradition. It what was done last time even if last time was the first time.

  4. “why should my state tax dollars … support a military college when only half of the grads actually go into the military?

    For the same reason your tax dollars support other state colleges.

    Some people prefer the training and discipline they get at VMI to the anarchy that is becoming more prevalent.

    • And the day will come again, may it be way off but it could be next year, when the military is not just all volunteers. Those young men and women may yet have a role to play. One thing about VMI, nobody is forced to attend.

      • Steve says:

        “And the day will come again, may it be way off but it could be next year, when the military is not just all volunteers. Those young men and women may yet have a role to play. One thing about VMI, nobody is forced to attend.”

        Yes, I agree. VMI is a most valuable institution, one that plays a special role in the Commonwealth of Virginia’s scheme of education. Given this fact, let us hope those most qualified get the chance to attend, irrespective of the color of their skin.

        However, I have my doubts now, no matter how fine its Superintendent may be, should VMI remain under the thumb of Northam Administration and whim of Washington Post. I say this based on recent history, the precedent set fuels the thirst for more. This is another unfortunate lesson of recent history.

      • God yes, service should be compulsory. It’s a balm to keep the itch for war in check. “You go to war with the Army you have.”

  5. Let’s see:
    How many other states have state funded military or “military style” colleges. Of course many have ROTC programs at civilian style colleges.
    Why am I totally
    Unfit to comment? Because I was not in the military?
    Hot flash! Neither were a number of others on this blog including Jim Bacon. I don’t discredit him for that. I have every right to question VMI because I am paying for it.
    Matt, please stop putting me down personally. I have been a journalist for 48 years.

    • VMI is not like the federal service academies, where attendance is “free” but you pay back time in uniform. Like any other state school, either the student or their parents pay tuition. Some cadets get ROTC scholarships and thus owe time in uniform.

    • Norwich
      The Citadel
      Georgia Military College

      It would’ve take you about 30 seconds to make that search, that’s why I call you out and will continue to call you out. If you wish to be regarded as a “journalist”, start by acting like one.

      Mr. Bacon and the like don’t make comments that aren’t rooted in fact or research, you do.

  6. Here are some more comments at the crisis at VMI.
    It seems that VMI is drawing so much criticism because it has a long history of hostility to minorities and women. This has been fully documented.
    For a better perspective than anything that has been served up so far on Bacons Rebellion is this piece that ran in this morning’s edition of the Roanoke Times which has questioned editorially about the need for the school as a state institution. Here’s this morning’s story:
    https://roanoke.com/news/local/push-for-change-at-virginia-military-institute-had-been-building-for-months/article_243e2574-25ec-11eb-b78f-7fb5dcf3451f.html#tracking-source=home-top-story

    The Roanoke piece is important because it shows that the controversy over racism at the school has been simmering for a much longer time than anyone at Bacons Rebellion will admit. My guess it is a marketing and audience issue because VMI has a big impact on Virginia’s mostly White managerial class which reads BR.
    The racism has been festering for years and was brought out by the needless killings of Blacks by police and the riots this summer. Black alumni at VMI started asking questions more forcefully, which the Times brought out.
    So, it was the Roanoke paper, not The Washington Post, that broke the story. It states:

    “Others who were upset with what they read in The Roanoke Times and with VMI’s plan were Sens. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, the chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, the chairwoman of the budget-writing subcommittee on higher education who has been involved in state policy regarding Confederate monuments. They asked Sen. Tommy Norment, R-James City, who graduated from VMI in 1968 and is one of the college’s most prominent advocates, to arrange a meeting with Peay in September.
    Howell expressed her frustration to (VMI chief) Peay and even raised that the state sets VMI’s appropriation, and that amount could change if the college doesn’t make changes. She walked away feeling the meeting wasn’t particularly productive.
    “He seemed pretty dug in,” Howell said of Peay.”
    Also, note that it was two female legislators who moved the queries forward. Why so? Because VMI has a documented history of sexism, too. Amazingly, public-funded VMI got away with keeping women out for years. It took a Supreme Court ruling for get them in. Still, there was resistance. Here’s a 1996 story from The New York Times:
    “After defying a Supreme Court order for three months, the governing board of Virginia Military Institute voted 9 to 8 today to admit women, transforming the nation’s last single-sex school that is state supported.
    But in yet another act of defiance, officials said they would require women to get crewcuts and meet the same fitness requirements that apply to men.
    ”It would be demeaning to women to cut them slack,” the V.M.I. superintendent, Josiah Bunting 3d, a 1963 graduate of the college, said at an afternoon news conference announcing the vote.
    Asked whether he expected future litigation because of that stance, General Bunting said simply, ”I do.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/1996/09/22/us/defiant-vmi-to-admit-women-but-will-not-ease-rules-for-them.html#:~:text=After%20defying%20a%20Supreme%20Court,school%20that%20is%20state%20supported.
    Despite clear evidence of racism and sexism at a state-supported school, this blog continues to deny or minimize the problem. It ignores the Roanoke Times reporting and concentrates instead on the Post, which is unpopular with many readers. It has gone as far to personally denigrate the Post reporter who had the nerve to follow up on what the Roanoke paper had already reported. It injsulted him with the needless and odd claim that he is a “pajama boy.”
    It went so far as to print photos and personal information about top Post editors. (What’s next? Their social security numbers?) I thought to myself, “Am I back in the Soviet Union?”
    I, too, have been personally insulted and have had by career trashed because I raised questions as well. This seems to be a clear effort to shut me up and drive me away, but I don’t think I am going anywhere. I will say that BR, which I have gladly contributed to for about 15 years, is going down a dangerous path.

    • I read the Roanoke Times article Peter referred to. It consists of real reporting, not interlarded with editorial insertions. I would trust what I read in the Roanoke Times about VMI far more than anything I read in the Washington Post.

    • You are moving the goal posts. The question from The Washington Post was about racism at VMI not whether VMI should exist. As for the question of racism at VMI, General Wins says he never experienced racism at VMI. That seems like a pretty strong statement from a man who attended the university and undoubtedly stayed informed about VMI during his 34 year Army career.

  7. One final thought that will undoubtedly fire up some of the bloggers. Gen Peay is 80 years old. Yes, he is a distinguished Army officer with a lifetime of achievement. I’m sure he’s a fine and moral man. But he’s 80. He would be ineligible for appointment to the majority of corporate boards which typically have age limits of either 72 or 75.

    Is it possible that things were happening at VMI that were not fully in Gen Peay’s view?

    Gen Peay maybe as sharp as a tack. I don’t know. What I do know is that the percentage of Americans with dementia increases dramatically with age. Beyond the undeniable science of increasing dementia with age there is also the question of cognitive decline (without dementia). Fluid abilities decline throughout adult life with a sharp drop off at age 60. Crystallized abilities increase throughout adult life until age 60 whey they start a slow but steady decline.

    If a person is obese nobody would argue that his or her blood pressure and cholesterol should be tested regularly. Obesity puts people into higher risk categories for cardiovascular disease. If somebody is older (>65) shouldn’t their cognitive abilities be tested as they discharge their responsibilities in positions of authority? If you believe in science don’t you have to believe in science even when it requires difficult questions to be asked?

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4906299/figure/FI00674-1/

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Mr. DJ the general delayed his retirement to oversee the COVID crisis. If the wuflu had never hit, General Peay would not be in this position. He would be on to the next chapter. Why drag a distinguished Virginian’s name into the mud just to cover our Governor’s racial crisis?

      • I agree.

        Now keep your eye fixed on what happens to VMI’s curriculum and its culture, under the thumb of the Northam administration and the Washington Post. And, given the awful precedent established here quite intentionally and gratuitously, keep your eye on the curriculum and culture of colleges and universities around the state, how they most likely now go from bad to far worse. We live in dark and ignorant times, driven by our rulers and their regimes.

      • The question was more generalized. Should there be a mandatory retirement age for positions of public service.? The Army has a mandatory retirement age of 62. Very few public corporations would even consider a CEO candidate past the age of 70, or even 65.

        I didn’t mean to point fingers at the general specifically. IF that’s how it sounded, I apologize. As I wrote, he may be sharp as a tack. I just think people will wonder when there are allegations of issues at an institution being run by an 80 year old. Or a 75 year old. Or even a 70 year old.

        Is it possible that there were things going on that the general didn’t see?

        The new man is a quarter century younger.

  8. Excellent, objective article Jim. General Wins looks like an outstanding alumnus and choice. I would hope the Board chooses him as the permanent successor.

    I think that VMI is an outstanding institution, and one much needed by America, not just the Commonwealth. I belong to an organization called “Virginians of Maryland” comprised of alumni of several VA colleges. The Keydets dominate. Every single one of them – white and black – are men of outstanding character. I hope the Institute gets this unfortunate chapter in its history behind it quickly. Northam’s handling of this whole affair was atrocious, but then so has his entire Administration been. He’s a very sad excuse for a Governor.

  9. “I belong to an organization called “Virginians of Maryland” comprised of alumni of several VA colleges. The Keydets dominate. Every single one of them – white and black – are men of outstanding character.”

    Sign me up, though may not qualify as to character.

  10. I note you say “men” if distinction. I guess VMI women don’t count.

  11. Ripper,
    Nice try but age is a distraction from what seem to be the real issues.

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