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 2022.
Item B. Strategies Part I of VMI’s Academic and Financial Plan includes a total of thirty-three (33)strategies and/or funding initiatives which have been assigned a priority. Twenty-four (24) 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 2013/2014 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 the 23 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. The Superintendent provided feedback on the 119 institution VMI CUPA-HR peer group submitted by the FCC, and he asked that they further refine this peer group and provide the Board of Visitors with a final report.
2015 Update: The VMI CUPA-HR peer group was further refined based on feedback received from the Superintendent, and a final peer group of 64 institutions was selected. This peer group 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 chairholder’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.
#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 will add 14 new full-time faculty positions by FY 2018 to support a Corps of 1,500. By reducing the reliance on adjunct faculty, VMI will improve the quality of instruction, and increase the number of mentoring/undergraduate research opportunities available to cadets. 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. Through FY 2014, VMI added five of the 14 positions. Three of these positions are privately funded, and two positions initially funded with private funds have been converted to the E&G budget. The cost of converting these two positions, as well as the conversion of the Sponsored Programs Administrator position, to the E&G Budget was $217,000. All 14 new positions will be added as of FY 2018.
2015 Update: VMI remains on track with the plan to have all 14 new positions added as of FY 2018. In FY 2015, VMI added two new positions – one privately funded and one E&G funded position at a cost of $76,000. In FY 2016, VMI will add three new faculty positions – one privately funded and two E&G funded positions at a cost of $161,000 at which time 10 of the 14 positions originally identified by the “Right-Size” initiative will be in place. However, since the need for an additional 14 positions was determined in order to support a Corps of 1,500, the size of the Corps has continued to grow and currently numbers close to 1,700 cadets. As a result, a new “Right-Size” study is being conducted to determine if additional faculty will be required. Unlike the original study, which used adjunct demand to determine where new full-time faculty positions would be required, the new study will also look at faculty workloads across all departments. The VMI Applied Mathematics Department has developed a model that will be used to compare departmental workloads, so that we may identify where faculty positions may be moved from one department to another as faculty retire in order to meet enrollment demand in lieu of adding new faculty positions. This study will be completed by the fall of 2015.
#5: Programming Across the Curriculum In order to prepare today’s graduates to succeed in a world where rapidly changing technology is transforming how we relate to and function within our environment, the Institute considers it a priority to ensure that all cadets become literate in the language of math, computer programming, and 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 programming skills.
This innovative curriculum will emphasize the contextualization of mathematics within a cadet’s discipline by incorporating contemporary pedagogical methods (e.g. inquiry-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 impacts interactions with our environment, and (c) better negotiate the technological-mathematical terrain that pervades the modern world.
Active inquiry-based projects will be designed and used to apply mathematical skills to realistic math problems including statistics and modeling. In addition, basic programming skills will be developed using a program language, such as Python™, 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. Ultimately, all cadets will become literate in the language of math and basic computer programming.
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). This initiative may serve as the focus of the Institute’s QEP.
#6: Financial Aid Background VMI projects an enrollment for Fall 2015 of 1715 cadets consisting of approximately 1018 in-state cadets (59 percent) and approximately 697 out-of-state cadets (41 percent). At a minimum 44 percent of in-state cadets and 63 percent of out-of-state cadets are projected to demonstrate need. VMI expects to award over $22 million in grants and scholarships in the 2015-16 AY to include Federal, State, ROTC, and institutional aid. Private and institutional aid accounts for over $12 million and ROTC scholarships for about $9 million (about 23 percent of cadets are expected to qualify for ROTC scholarships).
The percentage of in-state cadets and out-of-state cadets qualifying for need-based aid continues to increase annually especially since the economic recession of 2008. The percentage of “needy” in-state and out-of-state cadets was about 36% and 50%, respectively, in the 2008-09 AY and has grown to 44% and 63%, respectively, in the 2014-15 AY.
Policies and Commitment VMI strives to meet 100% of the demonstrated need of in-state cadets with grants and loans. VMI also maintains 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.
2015 Update: Financial aid resources provided to “needy” in-state cadets included $870,928 of State General Funds in the 2014-15 AY; the total for the 2015-16 AY will be $970,928.
Of the 245 in-state cadets who graduated in 2014 (1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014) 125 or 51% graduated with Federal loans. Their average debt was $20,563.
#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.
2015 Update: V-CUR continues to receive $180,000 annually in private funding support, which is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. The majority of this funding supports the Summer Undergraduate Research Institute (SURI), which supports approximately 60-70 cadets engaged in undergraduate research with a faculty mentor each summer. VMI faculty remain engaged in both internally and externally funded research.
#9: Math Education and Resource Center (MERC) The Math Education and Resource Center (MERC) was created to specifically address cadets’ poor performance in mathematics with a particular emphasis on incoming freshmen. As VMI increases its efforts to reach its goal of 50 percent (Class of 2011 was approximately 37 percent to 48 percent STEM majors depending on the criteria governing which majors should be considered as STEM) of all graduates coming from STEM majors, it is essential that students who are poorly prepared in mathematics as they leave the public secondary schools receive instruction and coaching to find success in college-level mathematics, especially math required for technical disciplines.
The MERC is directed by a full-time mathematics faculty member who also teaches two sections of mathematics courses. The director is well versed in mathematics pedagogy, possessing a background in Mathematics Education. The director has the ability to assist the department in introducing more historical dialogue into the mathematics curriculum. The MERC employs both professional and cadet tutors who work with cadets one-on-one to develop mathematics skills, to understand strategies useful in solving mathematics problems, to guide efforts in completing course assignments, and to prepare for tests and final exams.
With the support of a private funding grant of $666,000 covering a five-year period, the MERC began offering services through the Open Mathematics Laboratory (OML) in Spring 2011 and was fully implemented by Fall 2012. As a result of the rapidly increasing demand by cadets for the OML’s services during the first year and a half of operations, the OML was moved to a new space in the Preston Library four-times larger than its original space for the start of the 2012-13 AY. An operating budget was established for the MERC, and a full-time tutor supervisor position was established, both supported by E&G funds. State funding may be required to replace the private funding grant when the end of the term approaches.
2015 Update: The response to the OML continues to be overwhelming – positive with respect to cadet perception, and voluminous with respect to cadet utilization. A survey of users of the OML conducted in Spring 2015 reported an exceptionally high level of satisfaction with the services and support provided by the OML. As a result of this high level of satisfaction, cadet utilization has remained high with approximately 400-450 cadets making approximately 3,000 to 3,500 visits to the OML each academic year. The OML also provides approximately 1,000 hours of tutoring services during the VMI summer programs. Additionally, in June 2014, a comprehensive statistical study was completed, the results of which clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of OML on cadet academic performance. For example, in the 2013-14 AY, the scores for the top 30 cadets (by number of OML visits) in critical math courses went up by almost an entire letter grade from midterm to final course grades. This is significantly better than the overall Cadet Corps average change in their mathematics course grades over the same time period.
#11:In-State Student Enrollment Background Since 2003, the number of in-state cadets in the Corps has increased from 653 to 971 in FY 2013 or 49 percent. This increase was accomplished by expanding the size of the Corps from 1,299 to 1,664 or 28 percent and enrolling a greater percentage of in-state cadets. In-state cadet enrollment grew from 50 percent of the Corps to over 58 percent. The percentage of in-state cadets in the Corps has averaged about 58 percent during this period.
Plans and Commitments VMI projects 1,002 in-state cadets in FY 2016 or about 60 percent of the Corps. The number of in-state cadets is projected to increase to 1,023 in FY 2017 and 1,038 in FY 2018 as VMI seeks to maintain an average Corps size of approximately 1,625. The percentage of in-state cadets in the Corps is projected to approximate 61 to 62 percent for the six years from FY 2017 to FY 2022. These projections reflect recent difficulties in attracting the Vision 2039 target of out-of-state cadets of 45%. The State’s shortfall in funding 67% of the cost of education of in-state students coupled with an increasing percentage of in-state cadets has contributed to increases in in-state tuition because of the loss of the differential tuition paid by out-of-state cadets.