An alumni group of the Virginia Military Institute is publicly questioning why the college’s first Black superintendent was awarded a more “generous” bonus than last year.
Retired Army Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins has served as superintendent of the public military college since 2020. He first assumed the role in an interim capacity after General JH Binford Peay III resigned, following allegations of a racist culture at the school. Wins officially took on the role last year.
Spirit of VMI, a political action committee comprising alumni, parents and friends of the school, issued a statement earlier this month questioning why the VMI Board of Visitors approved a $100,000 bonus for Wins in September. The story was first reported by The Washington Post.
“SOVP questions what performance metrics the BOV used to make such a generous award and sharp increase,” the group said in a statement, adding there was “major concern among alumni and friends about VMI’s direction,” and a decrease in applications.
Bill Wyatt, director of communications and marketing at VMI, declined to comment specifically about the statement by the alumni group but spoke about Wins’ accomplishments.
Wins makes an annual salary of $625,000 and last year, he received a $25,000 bonus. Based on his performance during the 2021-2022 school year, the VMI board of visitors awarded him a $100,000 bonus, Wyatt told CNN.
When asked about Wins’ performance, Wyatt said the superintendent led the institute through the Covid-19 pandemic, guided the school through an investigation of its diversity and inclusion practices and launched a diversity, equity and inclusion program.
Based in Lexington, Virginia, VMI is a public military college that has an enrollment of about 1,700 students. Last year, VMI counted 102 Black students among its enrollment – about 6% of the student body.
In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, investigative reports in The Roanoke Times and The Washington Post detailed allegations by Black students and alumni against the school, including stories about a now-abandoned practice of requiring first-year students to salute a now removed statue of Thomas J. “Stonewall’ Jackson, the Confederate general and former VMI professor.
That reporting prompted Virginia officials to launch an investigation into the institute and led to the resignation of former superintendent Peay.