Corps of Cadets to lose state funds
The Virginia Tech corps of Cadets will lose nearly $1.2 million annually in state money--essentially its whole budget--if the General Assembly follows a recommendation by Gov. Mark Warner.
If the assembly approves Warner's budget-cutting plan, the corps' "unique military activities" (UMA) appropriation would be reduced by 50 percent, or $586,412, for the fiscal year that begins July 1, and completely cut by July 2004. The UMA appropriation, equivalent to $1,900 per cadet, finances leadership programs, corps staff members, uniforms, obstacle courses, and band equipment--practically all extra costs that make the corps a military unit.
Warner's budget also recommends cutting the same appropriation to the Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership (VWIL) at Mary Baldwin College. The UMA appropriation given to the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) would remain in place.
"That money is virtually all the money the corps of cadets has," said Maj. Gen. Jerrold P. Allen, commandant of the corps. "We hope that the legislature will approve an amendment that restores the money." Barring that, Allen hopes that the university sees enough value in the corps to replace the funding.
VMI has received the UMA appropriation since the early 1980s. VWIL and Tech started getting the same appropriation in the mid 1990s as part of the state's effort to keep VMI from being forced to admit women. Before the UMA, the corps was funded by university appropriations (including state funds), auxiliary income, and student fees.
Warner spokeswoman Ellen Qualls told The Roanoke Times that the governor believes VWIL and the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets are commendable programs that should continue, but when you have to make large budget cuts "you have to make choices about what state tax dollars should go for."
Allen pointed out that VMI has done very little to integrate women into its corps compared to the job Tech has done. About 20 percent of the VTCC is female, higher than any of the senior military colleges. The VTCC commissions 80 percent of its graduates as officers in the military, while VMI, the Citadel, and Texas A&M commission about 35 percent.
"We've got a valuable product that the nation needs," Allen said.
This blow also comes at a time when enrollment in the Tech corps, which was 724 this past fall, is at its highest in 30 years.