Part II: Word Document Item A. Institutional Mission Background and History Established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1839, the Virginia Military Institute is a four-year state-supported college whose student body is organized as a military corps under the command of the Superintendent and is constituted as the guard of the Institute. As a wholly undergraduate military college, VMI meets society’s need for educated citizens and leaders and contributes significantly to the diversity of the Commonwealth’s system of state-supported and independent institutions of higher education.
VMI has shaped leaders, heroes, and individuals whose daily lives reflect the integrity, fairness, and appreciation for the value of work that are instilled here. Its alumni include a Nobel Prize winner, eleven Rhodes Scholars, seven Medal of Honor recipients, a Pulitzer Prize Winner, a Supreme Court Justice, 39 college presidents and 266 generals and flag officers. VMI is associated with such distinguished soldiers as “Stonewall” Jackson and George C. Marshall as well as more than thirty thousand former cadets who have excelled in either civilian or military life.
Mission The Virginia Military Institute believes that the measure of a college lies in the quality and performance of its graduates and their contributions to society. Therefore, it is the mission of the Virginia Military Institute to produce educated, honorable men and women, prepared for the varied work of civil life, imbued with love of learning, confident in the functions and attitudes of leadership, possessing a high sense of public service, advocates of the American Democracy and free enterprise system, and ready as citizen-soldiers to defend their country in time of national peril. To accomplish this result, the Virginia Military Institute shall provide to qualified young men and women undergraduate education of highest quality – embracing engineering, science, and the arts – conducted in, and facilitated by, the unique VMI system of military discipline. Cadet life at VMI is defined by the Institute’s Honor Code. Cadets live by the Honor Code and are responsible for all aspects of its governance. They are also charged with maintaining the military structures and protocols of life in Barracks. Since all cadets reside on Post throughout their four years at VMI, Barracks is the focal point of cadet life and an important laboratory for building and exercising leadership and teamwork skills.
The combination of VMI’s rigorous academic program with its disciplined military organization and system distinguish the Institute from most institutions of higher education in the United States. Our comprehensive institutional mission is to educate the cadet intellectually, physically, morally and ethically through challenging and integrated curricular and co-curricular experiences. The Virginia Military Institute maintains a clear educational focus and a well-established niche in the higher education marketplace. We aspire to become neither a large institution nor a research institution.
We believe that this institution offers cadets not only an excellent academic education but also many additional benefits: a disciplined approach to overcoming obstacles, an understanding of the principles of leadership and of working in an organizational setting, and the experience of living in an environment that greatly values personal integrity, ethical inquiry and physical well-being. Because of these many benefits, the VMI graduate is an educated and honorable citizen-soldier.
Vision 2039 – Major Strategic Directions General J.H. Binford Peay, III, United States Army (Retired), VMI Class of 1962, was appointed the Fourteenth Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute on 1 July 2003. Following receipt of strategic guidance from the Board of Visitors, Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Institute’s accreditation agencies, the Superintendent appointed focus groups comprised of staff, faculty, cadets, alumni, parents, and other friends of the Institute to study, discuss, and make recommendations in four program areas: Academics, Military, Athletics, and Physical and Cultural Environment. The four focus groups made several hundred individual recommendations.
With the assistance of his senior staff, the Superintendent analyzed the focus group recommendations, blending them with his strategic guidance and his personal assessment to produce Vision 2039, a document whose name was chosen to celebrate the coming bi-centennial anniversary of the founding of the Institute. Vision 2039 was promulgated as a means to focus effort and resources, to define a desired end state, and to express the Superintendent’s plans and intentions to all Institute stakeholders. The theme of “Commonality, Synchronization, and Integration” prevails throughout the document. Vision 2039 builds upon the rich traditions and history of VMI, concentrates on effectively executing today, and moves VMI forward to the future.
The Fourteen Simplified Descriptors of Vision 2039:
A Military Institute and a Military Environment----Delivering a unique education.
Academic Reputation – The Premier Undergraduate College in America.
Renowned Honor System – #1 in the Nation.
Partnerships with the Best USA Graduate Schools.
Balance of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering with greater than 50% in hard science and engineering.
Corps of 1500 that is diverse and includes at least 10% Female Cadets.
Greater than 55% Virginia Cadets.
Service to the Nation with 70% Corps Commissioning (with growth in Guard and Reserve) – “Citizen Soldier”.
Every Cadet an Athlete – Winning Sports Teams – The VMI way.
Leadership Development System – Program unsurpassed.
Physical Plant – Historic, beautiful, modern, and technologically enhanced.
Organizationally streamlined, efficient and communicative.
One Cohesive Team – Alumni, Agencies, BOV, the Institute, Parents and Friends.
Vision 2039 was enthusiastically received by the VMI community and stakeholders, with strong endorsement from the Governor, the VMI Board of Visitors, and VMI’s three Alumni Agencies. The Fourteen Simplified Descriptors of Vision 2039, along with over 100 implementing strategies, have been integrated into a comprehensive strategic planning document for the Institute.
Summary VMI seeks to enroll young men and women of exceptional talent, curiosity, and character in an academic community in which innovative teaching and active learning are complemented by an intensive military regimen. The VMI experience builds personal and intellectual discipline as well as a resolute sense of duty to others, preparing cadets for the responsibilities of citizenship and leadership in the increasingly interconnected world of the twenty-first century. VMI aims to shape educated and honorable citizen-soldiers whose lives are marked by integrity, fairness, and a dedication to the value of work. Because they are products of such a purposeful college experience, VMI graduates have distinguished themselves in their communities and in nearly every profession, including the military, for more than 168 years.
VMI does not plan to make any changes to its institutional mission during the next six-year period through FY 2024.
Item B. Strategies Part I of VMI’s Academic and Financial Plan includes a total of 28 strategies and/or funding initiatives that have been assigned a priority. Twenty of these are strategies that are listed by short title in the Academic and Financial Plan and are described in more detail in the following pages.
Each strategy includes a short title, the priority number assigned, and summarizes progress to date for those strategies identified in the 2015/2016 Six Year Plan. It also notes how additional General Fund support, savings, and reallocations were used to further the strategies.
#1: Increase T&R Faculty Salaries An important factor in maintaining VMI’s reputation for academic excellence, and in meeting the Vision 2039 objective of becoming a "Premier Undergraduate College in America," is a vibrant, active, and enthusiastic faculty. As VMI seeks to recruit and retain the best faculty – Ph.D. level men and women who are excellent teachers, productive scholars, active in their professions, and engaged in the lives of cadets – it is imperative that the Institute offer competitive salaries.
In recent years, VMI has had difficulty in filling vacant faculty positions with the top applicants, which led the Dean in Spring 2012 to charge the Faculty Compensation Committee (FCC) with evaluating the adequacy of the VMI faculty compensation model for determining faculty salaries. The FCC was also charged with comparing VMI salaries to other Virginia colleges and universities, to professional discipline indices, and to selected peer groups. The FCC found that, when compared to the 14 Virginia public colleges and universities, VMI’s average faculty salary ranked 11th. When compared to 23 of 25 SCHEV peer group schools for which information was available, VMI’s average faculty salary ranked 23rd.
Based on these results, the FCC recommended adopting salary data from a peer group of 119 institutions similar to VMI from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) salary survey. The CUPA-HR data was applied using the VMI salary algorithm to provide target faculty salaries at the 60th percentile of the discipline and rank database of the 119 institution CUPA-HR peer group with target salaries adjusted by time in rank. This would raise the projected starting salaries for new faculty in all disciplines as well as raise target salaries for current faculty at all levels. At the time, many salaries were below the 10th percentile and none approached the 50th percentile of the combined sample. Based on feedback provided by the Superintendent, the FCC further refined the peer group to a final grouping of 64 institutions, which was presented to the Board of Visitors in January 2014. The target salaries determined using the VMI CUPA-HR peer group were used as the basis for targeted salary adjustments in FY 2014 ($50K in E&G funds and $450K in private funds) and FY 2015 ($100K in E&G funds). VMI is now pursuing a strategy of using privately funded faculty chairs to reallocate E&G funds formerly used to fund the chair holder’s faculty position to be used to provide targeted faculty salary adjustments. The first of these chairs is anticipated to be in place in FY 2017 and will provide approximately $135,000 for salary adjustments.
2017 Update: Based on the American Association for University Professors (AAUP) 2016-17 faculty salary survey, VMI’s average faculty salary ranks 9th when compared to the 13 Virginia public colleges and universities that participated in the survey. When compared to the 25 SCHEV peer group schools, VMI’s average faculty salary ranked 21st. In Fall 2016, the Superintendent established the goal of raising VMI’s average faculty salary into the top five amongst Virginia public colleges and universities. Approximately $2.5 million in new funding is required to achieve this goal. A new Institute Compensation Committee (ICC) was established in the 2016-17 AY, chaired by the Dean and comprised of faculty and administrative staff, to address compensation issues, including faculty compensation. The ICC proposed a new relative market value model that establishes target salaries for all faculty based on their academic discipline and years of service. It uses the CUPA-HR salary survey to determine the average salary for each academic discipline at VMI, and adjusts the average based on the funding required in order to raise VMI’s average faculty salary into the top five amongst Virginia public colleges and universities.
For FY 2018, VMI will provide all faculty with a three percent, state-initiated salary increase. Additionally, approximately $30K will be used for promotion salary increases, approximately $40K will be used to provide three faculty with distinguished chair/professorship salary supplements, and approximately $130K in private funding for two chairs will be used to fund faculty positions and reallocate E&G funds for salary adjustments.
#4: “Right-Sizing” With the addition of the Third Barracks at the start of the 2009-10 AY, the Corps of Cadets increased from approximately 1,200 to 1,500. However, there was no increase to the size of the faculty to accommodate the increased number of students. As a result, the Institute increased its use of adjunct faculty. The "Right-Size" Initiative identified 14 new full-time faculty positions by FY 2018 to support a Corps of 1,500. Subsequently, the Corps of Cadets continued to grow, and currently numbers approximately 1,700. As a result, a new “Right-Size II” study was completed in the fall of 2015 to determine if additional faculty are required to support this continued growth. Unlike the original study, which used adjunct demand to determine where new full-time faculty positions would be required, the new study examined faculty teaching loads across all departments. The VMI Applied Mathematics Department analyzed three years (12-13 AY to 14-15 AY) of teaching load information to develop a model that can be used to:
identify teaching load imbalances between departments;
While the focus of Right-Size Study II was on faculty teaching load, the Institute also evaluated the number of Core Curriculum courses being taught by adjuncts as opposed to full-time faculty. Therefore, the addition of some term faculty (i.e., predominantly teaching, non-tenure track positions) will help achieve the secondary goal of reducing the reliance on adjunct faculty, and exposing freshmen to full-time faculty in their Core Curriculum courses. Based on the results of this study, an additional ten full-time faculty positions (two tenure track and eight term positions) are required to support a Corps of Cadets of 1,700 in addition to the 14 positions identified in the original Right-Size initiative for a total of 24 new positions.
The cost of these positions will be covered through a combination of new funding, reallocation of resources (adjunct faculty funds and “turnover” savings from replacing retiring faculty) and private funds. All privately funded positions will eventually be “bought back” (i.e. converted to E&G), including seven full-time faculty positions currently funded by private grants.
2017 Update: In FY 2018, two new full-time, tenure track positions were added – one each in the departments of Computer and Information Sciences and Psychology. Additionally, one privately funded positon in the English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies Department was converted to E&G funding. The cost of these new positions and of converting the one privately funded position is approximately $265,000 all of which was supported by reallocation from “turnover” savings. With these additions, 16 of the 24 positions identified in the Right-Size Studies are in place, six of which are privately funded. VMI is on track to have all 24 positions in place by FY 2022.
#5: Math that Matters: Contextualizing Mathematics in a Computational World In order to prepare today’s graduates to succeed in a world where rapidly changing technology is transforming how individuals relate to and function within their environment, the Institute considers it a priority to ensure that all cadets become literate in the language of math, and computational technology and its application in solving real-world problems. Most STEM majors at VMI are exposed to programming and mathematical problem-solving through the course work in their curriculum, but approximately 50-60 percent of cadets could benefit significantly from additional course work in these areas. Therefore, this initiative focuses on improving the common core math requirement by developing a new, two-course math sequence that will include technology-driven mathematical topics and basic computational skills.
This innovative curriculum will emphasize the contextualization of mathematics within a cadet’s discipline by incorporating contemporary pedagogical methods (e.g. problem-based learning) and modern problem-solving tools into one powerful educational package. This new pedagogical paradigm will better prepare VMI graduates to: (a) think critically and solve complex problems within their disciplines that require significant computational, data analytic, and critical thinking skills, (b) better understand the nuances of how technology informs and affects interactions with the environment, and (c) better negotiate the technological-mathematical terrain that pervades the modern world.
Stated simply, the idea is to have cadets, particularly non-STEM majors, engage with math in ways that are meaningful and useful for solving domain-specific problems using computers. Active problem-based projects will be designed and used to apply mathematical skills to realistic math problems including statistics and modeling. In addition, basic computational thinking skills will be developed using software, like Microsoft Excel, in order to teach cadets to solve the problems and understand the capacity and the limitations of both the model and technology. These projects will be developed through collaborations between the Applied Mathematics Department and other departments whose cadets will be required to take this new math core sequence.
VMI will undergo reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in 2017. The concept of quality enhancement is at the heart of the SACSCOC philosophy of accreditation, and each institution that seeks reaffirmation of accreditation is required to develop a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). Math that Matters was submitted as the QEP for the Institute in September 2016. It will undergo the approval process through June 2017.
2017 Update: VMI was successful in its decennial bid for reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Schools-Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). In March 2016, the Institute submitted the Compliance Certification, which was reviewed by a SACSCOC Off-Site Review Committee in April 2016. VMI received the Off-Site Committee’s report in May 2016, which included nine findings of non-compliance - an excellent result. In September 2016, VMI submitted a Focused Report in response to the Off-Site Committee’s report, addressing the nine findings. In October 2016, the SACSCOC On-Site Review Committee reviewed VMI’s Compliance Certification, Focused Report, and QEP on the VMI Post. Their findings were minimal, with no recommendations for all but one of the SACSCOC Principles, CR 3.7.1., Faculty Qualifications. Notably, VMI’s QEP received no recommendations, a result that nearly 60% of institutions fail to achieve.
In response to the On-Site Committee’s findings, VMI submitted a Response Report in February 2017. In June 2017, the SACSCOC Board of Trustees reviewed the Response Report and determined that actions taken in response to the on-site committee’s findings achieved compliance with CR 3.7.1. In sum, the Institute was reaffirmed without additional reporting requirements.
Implementing the “Math that Matters” strategy within the VMI Core Curriculum is progressing well. The strategy is built around a contextualized curriculum or “modules.” Development of these modules has begun and, as of this writing, nine modules are complete and seven are in-progress. A Summer Institute has been scheduled where another six modules will be developed. This activity should round out the majority of the curriculum. Additionally, in spring 2017, VMI hosted a guest speaker, Dr. Brett Jones, a professor of educational psychology at Virginia Tech and leading expert in academic motivation, a key element of the Plan’s curriculum design, implementation, and evaluation.
Several components of the course sequence are in the early stages of development. These include the process for layering assessment onto the courses, piloting of modules prior to course launch, development of a textbook to accompany the course and scheduling the 2018 Summer Boot Camp where Applied Math faculty will be trained on this new pedagogical approach.
VMI’s next major SACSCOC report, the 5th Year Report, is due in 2021 and will provide an update on the progress of the QEP, as well as demonstrate continued compliance with a fraction of the Standards.
#6: Financial Aid Background In 2016-17, VMI awarded over $25 million in grants and scholarships to include Federal (Pell Grant and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant), State (VSFAP-VGAP, COMM, and State Cadetship), ROTC (Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force) and institutional aid. Private and institutional aid accounted for over $12 million and ROTC scholarships for over $10.7 million (approximately 26% of cadets qualified for ROTC scholarships in 2016-17).
VMI projects an enrollment for Fall 2017 of 1725 cadets consisting of approximately 1086 in-state cadets (63%) and 639 out-of-state cadets (37%). As of 21 June 2017, 39.4% of in-state cadets (428/1086) and 60.3% of out-of-state cadets (385/639) have established demonstrated need.
The annual percentage of in-state cadets and out-of-state cadets qualifying for need-based aid is approximately 40%-45% and 60%-65% respectively.
Policies and Commitment VMI strives to meet 100% of the demonstrated need of in-state cadets with grants and loans for those who meet the March 1st application deadline and as funds are available. The Institute continues to maintain a “need-blind” admissions policy ensuring that no qualified applicant is denied admission based on his or her ability to pay. See Part II Item C of VMI’s Six-Year Plan for a description of its Financial Aid Plan to include addressing the impact of tuition and fee increases on low-income and middle-income cadets and their families.
VMI’s Vision 2039 includes a goal of commissioning 70 percent of graduates into the Armed Forces so VMI continues to emphasize and support cadet efforts to participate in ROTC scholarship and other military-based aid programs.
2017 Update: Financial aid resources provided to “needy” in-state cadets included $1,016,240 of State General Funds (VSFAP-Virginia State Financial Aid Program) in the 2016-17 AY; the total projected for the 2017-18 AY will also be $1,016,240.
Of the 214 in-state cadets who graduated in 2017 (1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017) 115 or 54% graduated with Federal loans (Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized and Perkins Loans). Their average debt was $18,463.
#8: VMI's Center for Undergraduate Research (V-CUR) The VMI Center for Undergraduate Research (V-CUR) was established to more fully integrate student scholarly inquiry into the VMI experience. The program was originally founded on the premise that the most meaningful academic experiences of college students come through one-on-one interactions with faculty mentors outside the traditional classroom environment. Through the growth of V-CUR, cadets presenting research at regional and national venues, VMI’s co-hosting of national and regional undergraduate research conferences, and publications about V-CUR in the Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly, have made a significant contribution toward the Vision 2039 goal of improving VMI’s academic reputation as a premier undergraduate college in America.
V-CUR provides grants for student summer research projects. The Center is privately funded at about $180,000 annually. VMI faculty are engaged in externally funded research with approximately $350,000 of funding received annually in support of these projects. As a result of these projects, the VMI faculty make approximately 100 scholarly presentations at conferences in the U.S. and abroad each year.
2017 Update: V-CUR’s annual funding has increased by $10,000 to $190,000 from a private grant, which is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. The majority of this funding supports the Summer Undergraduate Research Institute (SURI), which in turn supports approximately 50 cadets engaged in undergraduate research with a faculty mentor each summer. VMI faculty remain engaged in both internally and externally funded research.
The additional $10,000 in annual funding supports a new SURI subprogram called AIM - Applied Industrial Mathematics. Under the AIM program, cadet teams and faculty advisors are joined with a sponsor, such as a (usually local) business, industry, or government agency and use applied mathematics to solve a problem presented by the sponsor. This partnership is beneficial to all involved. In developing mathematical solutions for the sponsor, the cadet participants are exposed to the practical applications of mathematics and computer science in a "real world" setting, and they acquire knowledge that will aid them in their senior capstone project and later in life, to include contact with employers.