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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Daniel

Chairman's Update

22 March 2024

Welcome to the Winter 2024 newsletter for The Spirit of VMI (PAC), The Sentinel. Thank you for caring enough to be curious and curious enough to act. In this issue of The Sentinel, we have several features for you: some opinion, some reflection, some news, some humor. As always, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Hugh and Robin Daughtry for the arduous work they put into this quarterly circular and to the PAC members and others who have contributed to this issue..

The Spirit of VMI was founded in the winter of 2021; it has been 3 years of concentrated, rewarding and focused work since then. We were founded to protect and defend VMI and the 5 pillars that make her unique. These pillars define VMI, and our chief tactic is to find and influence elected state officials to support and maintain these principles so that VMI remains a VMI that is worthy of protecting. The pillars remain today: The HONOR SYSTEM, EDUCATING CADETS, The CLASS SYSTEM, The REGIMENTAL SYSTEM and the RATLINE. Our goal has been to preserve the legacy values within these systems that has made VMI the celebrated crown jewel of Virginia’s higher education landscape and a national treasure. At times, during these past 3 years, we have had to often defend, or speak up for each of these valued systems.   

The Spirit of VMI PAC has faced adversity and attack. From the opening inning we have faced silly, wild-eyed, cat-calling speculators, mostly radical VMI alumni, who claimed we were grifters; said we were going to “steal your money” and try to “close down the school” and all sorts of other name-calling and witless accusations. We discovered and defeated a hidden, hushed budget request from VMI to the Virginia General Assembly that asked for upwards of $6M to indoctrinate cadets into the wasteful and useless ideology of D-E-I: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Extremely public, lazy and intellectually empty accusations of racism have been directed at us by the most senior of officials in this Institution. National and international media has attacked us, by name, for defending VMI against what is now widely being recognized as divisive and harmful, even Marxist ideologies. But we stood strong against these advances, ignoring and deflecting the screeching; it helped that the accusations and attacks were fake, predictable, hard to follow and poorly delivered. 

We have supported only the most challenging political races that have been critical to the effort to keep VMI, VMI. This means that we kept our fundraising and contribution focus on helping those who were faithful to VMI in their political pursuits. As such, due to the touchpoints that we forged and maintain, the Spirit of VMI has regular access to the elected officials across the state. We have supported the Governor in his task to populate the governing bodies of state-funded colleges and universities with worthy board members by providing vetted, nominated candidates for his consideration and appointment. This matters because it allows us to help ensure that the VMI Board of Visitors remains dedicated to the legacy values that made VMI what we need it to be: tough, fair, honest and the best educational value in the nation. 

Even as we do what we can to help VMI get/stay on path, this institution and the state of Virginia still need this PAC to help run interference for legislative endeavors and concerns. The task of ensuring those who are elected are friendly to VMI is implied, but real.

As I close, I ask our alumni to understand what it takes to keep the VMI we remember and value. As such, I will share the obvious.

We need our alumni to: 

  • Be the leaders that VMI demanded of us. 

  • Care enough to be curious, and curious enough to act.

  • Realize and know they have an impact. We need them to want it.

  • Get and stay engaged. Volunteer. Contribute, join the discussion, donate.

  • And finally, we need the VMI Administration, Faculty, Staff, BoV, VMIAA to live by the VMI standards of honor and integrity that is demanded of the Corps. There is room for improvement here, make no mistake.

Within the next month or so, I will step down as the first chairman of the Spirit of VMI PAC and pass the leadership privilege and responsibility to another PAC member. I am confident that we will make a public announcement when that happens. Please welcome and support him when it does.

Rah Virginia Mil and Semper Fidelis,

Matt Daniel ‘85

Founded in 2021, the Spirit of VMI PAC is a registered Virginia Political Action Committee whose purpose is to restore VMI’s reputation as an elite leadership institution.

Point of Contact:

SOVP Communications Staff:

Visit the SOVP website:

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