The Virginia Military Institute is a four-year college and the oldest state-supported military college in the United States, located in Lexington, Virginia. It is sometimes nicknamed the "West Point of the South". It was founded on November 11, 1839. Currently, there are approximately 1,300 cadets attending.
VMI was founded on the Lexington State Arsenal in 1839. Francis H. Smith was the first superintendent of the school, and would hold that position until 50 years later in 1889. New barracks were built in 1850, helping to support poor living conditions.
VMI played an important role in the Civil War. At the battle of New Market in May 1864, the VMI cadets fought in what was nicknamed the "Field of Lost shoes" in their only battle as a school, helping the Confederacy to a victory. Later that year in June, Union General David Hunter lead his troops in the burning of VMI, as the whole school was almost completely destroyed. The cadets had to relocate to attending school in Richmond.
In World War II, one notable VMI alumnus that became a general was George C. Marshall, graduating from the Institute in 1901. There was also General Sun Li-jen, who was known for his leadership in the Second Sino Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War.
VMI covers 134 acres, and is referred to as "Post". The original "Barracks" were built in 1850, and the "New Barracks" were installed in 1949. In 2009, construction for what is referred to as "Third Barracks", was finished.
Over $275 million were raised by the VMI Alumni Association in efforts to complete "Vision 2039". This proposed project is supposed to build 1,500 houses for cadets, renovation for academic and athletic buildings, and the VMI Center for Leadership and Ethics.
The VMI Keydets field 14 teams at the varsity level, all of which compete in the NCAA Division I (Division I-FCS for football). All but three compete in the Big South Conference, which are lacrosse and water polo in the MAAC, and wrestling in the Southern Conference. The sports fielded are:\
- Men's Cross Country
- Women's Cross Country
- Men's rifle
- Women's rifle
- Men's soccer
- Women's soccer
- Men's swimming and diving
- Women's swimming and diving
- Men's track and field
- Women's track and field
VMI has the third-smallest enrollment of any FCS college, in front of only Presbyterian and Wofford. A third of the Corps of Cadets play at least one athletic team.
VMI football dates back to 1871, in which VMI played a one-game season against Washington and Lee, a 4-2 loss. The team would not go intercollegiate until 1891, under head coach Walter Taylor. Today, VMI plays in Alumni Memorial Field at Foster Stadium, built in 1962 (named Foster in 2006), and they are coached by Sparky Woods ever since 2008.
Since the formation of VMI basketball in 1908, perhaps the most famous moment in for the team, and possibly the school, happened in 1976 and '77. Led by former LA Laker Ron Carter, the 76 and 77 teams went to the Final Four and Sweet Sixteen, respectively. VMI has played in Cameron Hall since 1981, and is currently coached by Duggar Baucom in his 6th year.
VMI has had 14 superintendents since its formation in 1839. J.H. Binford Peay III is the current superintendent.
- Francis H. Smith, 1839-89
- Scott Ship, 1890-1907
- Edward W. Nichols, 1907-24
- William H. Cocke, 1924-29
- John A. Lejeune, 1929-37
- Charles E. Kilbourne, 1937-46
- Richard J. Marshall, 1946-52
- William H. Milton Jr., 1952-60
- George R.E. Shell, 1960-71
- Richard L. Irby, 1971-81
- Sam S. Walker, 1981-88
- John W. Knapp, 1989-1995
- Josiah Bunting III, 1995-2002
- J.H. Binford Peay III, 2003-present