‘I didn’t realize the magnitude:’ Celebrating 25th anniversary of women attending VMI

Gussie Lord was one of the first 30 women to attend VMI when the school went co-ed in 1997

This weekend, VMI is hosting events to celebrate the occasion and welcome back the alumnae (Photo credit: Gussie Lord)

LEXINGTON, Va. – This year marks the 25th anniversary of women being allowed to attend the Virginia Military Institute.

This weekend, VMI is hosting events to celebrate the occasion and welcome back women alumnae.

Gussie Lord was one of those women who were first to enroll in VMI in 1997. She remembers the first time she drove up on post to find a media frenzy.

“The whole area was surrounded by news vans,” Lord recalled.

“I think up until that moment I didn’t realize the magnitude and the controversy that it had generated. Was focused on us… these high school students walking into their first day of college,” said Lord.

VMI Superintendent Major General Cedrick Wins said this weekend is all about celebrating the women of VMI.

“I tell folks all the time that VMI is a better place because it is now co-ed. Women have helped us in the academic performance, they challenge themselves physically just like their male counterparts have done, male students,” Wins said.

VMI is continuing to make strides in equity and inclusion.

Most recently in 2021, Kasey Meredith became the first woman Regimental Commander, the highest rank a cadet can hold at VMI.

That accomplishment wouldn’t have been made possible without Lord and her then fellow cadets making history in 1997.

“To think about it now, and look at it, we were really young, and there was a lot of pressure, but I think we did a really good job. I’m pretty pleased with all of us and very proud of my classmates,” said Lord.

About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.