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Virginia Military Institute, Lexington

4.8
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Educational Site · Tourist Spot
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Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is a public senior military college in Lexington, Virginia. It was founded in 1839 as America's first state military college and is the oldest public senior military college in the United States. In keeping with its founding principles and unlike any other senior military college in the United States, VMI enrolls cadets only and awards bachelor's degrees exclusively. VMI offers its cadets strict military discipline combined with a physically and academically demanding environment. The institute grants degrees in 14 disciplines in engineering, science, and the liberal arts.
While Abraham Lincoln first called VMI "The West Point of the South" because of its role during the American Civil War, the nickname has remained because VMI has produced more Army generals than any ROTC program in the United States. Despite the nickname, VMI differs from the federal military service academies in many regards. For example, as of 2019, VMI had a total enrollment of 1,722 cadets (as compared to 4,500 at the Academies) making it one of the smallest NCAA Division I schools in the United States. Additionally, today (as in the 1800s) all VMI cadets sleep on cots and live closely together in a more spartan and austere barracks environment than at the Service Academies. All VMI cadets must participate in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) of the United States Armed Forces programs, but are afforded the flexibility of pursuing civilian endeavors or accepting an officer's commission in the active or reserve components of one of the six U.S. military branches upon graduation.
VMI's alumni include a secretary of state, secretary of defense, secretary of the Army, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, 7 Medal of Honor recipients, 13 Rhodes Scholars, Pulitzer Prize winners, an Academy Award winner, an Emmy Award and Golden Globe winner, a martyr recognized by the Episcopal Church, senators and representatives, governors, lieutenant governors, a Supreme Court justice, numerous college and university presidents, many business leaders (presidents and CEOs) and over 290 general and flag officers across all US service branches and several other countries.
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Virginia Military Institute reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 5.0
470 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • We visited the museum because we ran out of things to see. It was a VERY pleasant surprise. The museum has an amazing collection of vintage fire arms. maybe hundreds. See General Patton's helmet and.....  more
    We visited the museum because we ran out of things to see. It was a VERY pleasant surprise. The museum has an amazing collection of vintage fire arms. maybe hundreds. See General Patton's helmet and.....  more »
  • Tried to go to the VMI Museum however this town doesn't believe in parking spaces nearby. Nearest one was down the hill and it was pouring rain. The dorm building look like jail cells. Felt sorry... 
    Tried to go to the VMI Museum however this town doesn't believe in parking spaces nearby. Nearest one was down the hill and it was pouring rain. The dorm building look like jail cells. Felt sorry...  more »
Google
  • I just visited, and it felt like a ghost town since nobody was around, but in some ways I did not mind that. It is a very historical institution, which is great, and has produced many honourable cadets and servicemen. I am not pleased with the school’s (and their perhaps worst graduate ever in our former governor), penchant of the erasure of former professor, Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. I could only find one or two references to him on campus, which is a shame, since even though he was not a popular professor, he as a man was insanely popular. He was very honourable, treated everyone regardless of race with nothing but respect, and his legacy should have nothing or little to do with the post-Reconstruction problems the school might’ve had within its culture. Nevertheless, it is just a sign of the times.
  • We had a wonderful time there and met the future of our generation. Thank you for the great hospitality. Operation Enduringwarrior .org

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