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‘VMI is in a better place’: Gov. Northam weighs in on inclusivity changes at his alma mater

This comes after a year of inclusive changes for the state’s oldest military school

During his final days in office, Gov. Ralph Northam is reflecting on the inclusive changes made to his alma mater, VMI.

LEXINGTON, Va. – During his last days in office, Governor Ralph Northam is reflecting on the changes he has imposed at Virginia Military Institute. This comes after a million-dollar investigation took place examining the school’s climate last year.

“VMI is in a better place because of that. There are a lot of folks that didn’t agree. When I say ‘a lot of folks,’ a lot of alumni that didn’t agree with the changes that were made, but they were necessary,” said Northam, who graduated from VMI in 1981.

Findings presented to the state showed reports of racial injustice and gender discrimination on post.

Northam says decisions to remove certain things from VMI’s post has helped the climate at the school.

“VMI needed to get rid of the statues they get, need to get rid of the names on buildings that honor Confederate generals. People didn’t need to be walking outside of barracks, especially people of color, or anybody for that fact saluting a man that had fought for the institution of slavery,” Northam said.

Northam discussed how the school has made major changes in the last several months, and he hopes it keeps moving in the right direction.

“VMI needed to open its doors, be more welcoming, needed to have a more diverse faculty and a more diverse staff and a more diverse Corp and I have been back. I went back a couple of weeks ago. I addressed the Corp, and I’m very pleased with the direction that VMI is taking,” Northam said.

You can watch the full interview with Northam on Thursday, Jan. 12, on WSLS 10.


About the Author:

Annie Schroeder joined the 10 News team as a reporter in June 2020 and is no stranger to Southwest Virginia.