Established in 1839, Virginia Military Institute is the oldest state-funded military college in the country. It entirely admits cadets.
Based on more than 200 acres of land in Lexington, a small city 125 miles west of Richmond, Virginia’s state capital, the coeducational college is separated from West Virginia by George Washington and Jefferson National Forest.
Study programmes at VMI include English, history, biology, civil engineering, electrical & computer engineering, mechanical engineering, applied mathematics, physics and psychology.
Living arrangements in VMI’s barracks are more characteristic of military camps than most universities, with many students sharing dormitories. Cadets must take part in either the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps, the Naval ROTC, the Naval Marine Option ROTC or the Air Force ROTC. They eat together, wear Cadet uniforms and are given specific haircuts after enrolling at the college.
Alumni include Edward Almond, a First and Second World War veteran who was the commander of the US Army’s X Corps in the Korean War, and Randolph M. Pate, the commandant of the US Marine Corps between 1956 and 1959. VMI graduates who pursued careers outside the military include civil rights activist and Episcopal Church martyr Jonathan Daniels, and Fred Willard, who served in the US Army before going into comedy and establishing himself as a film and television actor whose credits include This Is Spinal Tap, Anchorman and Everybody Loves Raymond.