The Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership stands alone as the nation's only all female corps of cadets. But the program at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton faces the possible loss of a key funding source.
VWIL was established in 1995 as a partnership between the private college and the commonwealth of Virginia, but that partnership is in danger of coming to an end. Governor Bob McDonnell's proposed higher education budget would phase out all state funding for the program.
VWIL gets a little over $300,000 from the state each year and uses it for student financial aid. It typically has enrollment of around 125, and is among three schools that make up the Virginia Corps of Cadets. The program emphasizes public service for graduates who move on to civilian life and for the 40 percent who choose the military.
Mary Baldwin Vice President Crista Cabe said, "Our graduates do remarkably well once they enter the military, in terms of gaining rank and gaining coveted leadership positions, good postings, dangerous postings. They win the Bronze Star, the Silver Star. The outcomes are just remarkable."
The governor proposes phasing out VWIL support over three years. Mary Baldwin is working with valley legislators on a budget amendment that would restore funding.
VWIL was first established as a female counterpart to the then all-male Virginia Military Institute. However, the college says it has evolved into a unique program, and is the most diverse cadet corps in Virginia.
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