Wins Appointed as 15th VMI Superintendent

Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins

by James A. Bacon

Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins will serve as the Virginia Military Institute’s 15th superintendent after a unanimous vote by the military academy’s Board of Visitors this morning. A 1985 VMI graduate and career military officer, Wins has served as interim superintendent since shortly after the November resignation of J.H. Binford Peay III under pressure from the Northam administration.

Wins, an African American, has led the academy during one of the most tumultuous periods in its modern history. After anecdotal reports of racial incidents in recent years, the Institute has been characterized as “relentlessly racist” by The Washington Post and criticized for its “appalling” racism by Governor Ralph Northam and Democratic Party leaders. VMI is currently being scrutinized in an “equity audit” ordered by Northam, in which investigators are poring through documents, conducting surveys on attitudes toward race, and  interviewing students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

The Superintendent Search Committee nominated Wins from what chairman Gene Scott called a “very strong” candidate pool. “Maj. Gen. Wins distinguished himself as a frontrunner through his experience as a military leader and innovator,” said Scott. “His ability to communicate a vision for the development of leaders of character and the future of the Institute set him apart from others.”

According to a VMI press release, Wins spent the first three months conducting his own assessment of the culture, policies and procedures in place at the military academy. He identified five desired outcomes moving forward:

  1. Honor. The VMI Honor Code must continue to be a way of life for each and every cadet and alumnus.
  2. Diversity and inclusion. VMI must ensure that every cadet, regardless of race, gender, religion, or nationality, feels a part of the VMI legacy.
  3. The VMI brand. The outward face of VMI should be built around young leaders of character who exemplify honor, civility, and service above self.
  4. Competing and winning. VMI cadets must compete to win in the classroom, on the drill field, and on the field of competition.
  5. One VMI. VMI’s strength is in its diversity of experiences, thought, abilities, and backgrounds. No single cadet’s challenge is greater than another’s. It is through the reliance on their fellow cadets that the Corps succeeds.

Achieving diversity and inclusion, which had been a priority for several years before the current furor, was difficult given VMI’s history and traditions tied to the slave-holding Confederacy. Under Superintendent Peay, VMI was successful in recruiting more cadets of Asian and Hispanic background but lagged in recruiting African American students who, understandably, did not warm to the veneration of Stonewall Jackson and the role of VMI cadets in the Battle of New Market. Of those blacks who did attend, a large percentage were athletes. Wins himself played on the VMI basketball team and was one of the top five scorers in school history.

Wins has promised VMI’s total cooperation in the racism investigation, prompting some alumni to suggest that he has not been assertive enough in defending the institute. However, as interim superintendent, he found himself in an exceedingly difficult situation. VMI relies upon millions of dollars in annual state appropriations, financial aid to students, and backing for construction bonds. Democratic Party leaders made it crystal clear that VMI’s funding was at stake. VMI cannot afford to perceive as “stonewalling” the investigation in any way.

Bacon’s bottom line: Unstated in the Board of Visitors press release today, VMI needs an African American in a position right now. Wins is committed to core VMI institutions such as the rat line and honor code — even if he made the decision to eliminate the announcement of expelled cadets for honor offenses during the drum roll ceremony — but it is hard to accuse him, as an African-American, of white-washing racism at the academy. It is undeniable that racial incidents have occurred at VMI. The question is whether anecdotal stories reflect systemic attitudes and practices. Wins has managed to maintain the trust of VMI alumni without antagonizing powerful Democrats committed to a “social justice” agenda. It is hard to imagine anyone better suited to the challenges of the times.

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20 responses to “Wins Appointed as 15th VMI Superintendent”

  1. sam elias Avatar
    sam elias

    Seems like the right choice. He might be less hostile to the equity audit than many hope though.

    1. Rob Austin Avatar
      Rob Austin

      Why do you think he was chosen?

  2. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Wins wins.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    Any knowledge of Bins prior employment and roles?

    1. Prior employment? He’s a Major-General in the United States Army. Before that he held various, lower officer ranks in the United States Army.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Maybe this:

        was the last commander of RDECOM, in the U.S. Army Materiel Command, and the first commanding general (CG) of Combat capabilities development command (CCDC), in the Combat development element of U.S. Army Futures Command. In all, some 13,000 people work in some Science and Technology (S&T), or (RDT&E— research, development, test, and evaluation) capacity for CCDC

        Before his assignment as RDECOM commander, Wins served as Director, Force Development in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8. During his 30 years of service, Wins has held leadership and staff assignments in the 7th Infantry Division (Light), Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8. Additionally, Wins has been stationed at Fort Ord, California; the 2nd Infantry Division, Eighth United States Army, Korea; Headquarters Department of the Army and the Joint Staff, The Pentagon; the 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; Strategic Planning, J-8, U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida; and the Requirement Integration Directorate, Army Capabilities Integration Center, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.[5]

        His deployments include:

        Task Force Sinai, Multinational Force and Observers, Egypt
        Operations Officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 5th Battalion, 21st Infantry (Light)
        Program Executive Officer, Joint Program Executive Office – Afghanistan Public Protection Force
        Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom
        Deputy Commander, Police, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Training Mission – Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom[5]

        1. If you knew, why did you ask?

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            why did you comment? It was a reasonable question that had to do with his prior roles and experience so why do you have a problem with that being asked in the first place?

            Why do you pick and denigrate in such a personal way? Is that a personality thing, a “need” on your part?

          2. I don’t have a problem with it being asked. I was just wondering why you would ask a question to which you clearly already knew the answer. Is that a personality thing, a “need” on your part?

          3. LarrytheG Avatar

            nope. But I thought his experience and role relevant to the demands of this job and though that aspect was worthy of adding to the discussion. Problem?

          4. You’re missing the point entirely. You already knew his past job experience and qualifications. Why not simply post that information instead of asking everyone else if they know it?

          5. LarrytheG Avatar

            I knew? How do you know that? Truth is I did not know and it was a straight up question Mr. know-it-all.

            Why do you pick, guy?

            You don’t know me from Adam yet you pick and presume things you simply do not know. That’s pretty ignorant and obtuse, no?

  4. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    Best wishes to General Wins. I am optimistic that he will provide effective stewardship for VMI.

    1. I share your optimism.

    2. owen dunlap Avatar
      owen dunlap

      I also am optimistic — with Covid and all unique challenges that come with a pandemic in a barracks setting together while dealing with the state mandated investigations of racism while doing a already difficult job – all under review by a very passionate alumni base- Gen Wins has certainly met the challenges head on. My only question recently was if he would want the job or not. My hope is that as a former scholarship athlete at VMI he may also help mend whatever divisions exist in the corp between athletes and the res of the corp of cadets

  5. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    The alumni must be breathing a little easier.

    As far as state funding goes, no institution of higher education has done better, relatively speaking, than VMI. Over the past 10-15 years, the school has gotten multiple major capital projects approved and funded. There was hardly been anything it asked for that it did not get. It has always had loyal alumni in the legislature to look out for it. Its most recent guardian angel has been Sen. Tommy Norment, who, although now in the minority, still carries great influence.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Ya know, Dick, I might point out CNU’s capital imporovements in the last 10 years are massive.

      Not just one building with a cupola, but 3 or 4, one of which is “yuge” and gold and bigger that the building it tops which is named after the man who finagled the money out of the committee headed by Phil Hamilton whose wife worked for the man after whom the building with the yuge, gold cupola is named. Whew!

      Big cupola… like big Dark Helmet… someone is compensating.

    2. owen dunlap Avatar
      owen dunlap

      Dick -you are correct – Virginia has funded several projects on post in the last decade – most importantly a third barracks. Gen Peay had a well thought out long term plan on physical improvements and then took steps to help put it into action. The General Assembly must have felt like the projects were worthy investments based on prior investments. There was also a long ” dry period” of no large projects on post for much of the period from the 80’s to the early 2000’s

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    To take VMI in a new direction, given the ongoing turmoil will be a challenge that will require more skill and expertise beyond being just a military guy of color.

    I wish him well and hope he has tremendous success at the time in his career when many in his shoes might be ready for a less intense role.

    No matter what he does or how he does it, some hyper critics on both sides are in the wings waiting to pounce.

    He’ll need to get some oil on the waters… be patient, and have a thick hide.

  7. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    The Jackson statue gone and a black supe getting 1000 salutes a day instead. It’s a plan. It won’t silence the mob, I fear.

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