Head of Virginia military academy resigns amid report of racist culture

(Reuters) - The head of the Virginia Military Institute resigned Monday under pressure from senior state officials after a published report found the 181-year-old military college was marked by a culture of racism.
JH Binford Peay III, who has been the institute's superintendent for 17 years, told his board of directors that he would resign after learning on Friday that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and “certain lawmakers have confidence in my leadership lost ... and wanted my resignation. ""
Peay's resignation, which the head of the college's government-sponsored board of directors accepted as "unfortunate", took effect Monday.
"You have fundamentally changed our school for the better," said John William Boland, president of the school's Visitors Committee, in a letter to Peay. The search for a successor would begin immediately, he added.
Northam press secretary Alena Yarmosky said that while the governor was grateful for Peay's service, the college now has "an opportunity to redeem a long legacy with a clear view of the future."
"Changes to VMI are long overdue and the Board of Visitors has a deep responsibility for adopting them," Yarmosky said in an email.
Last week, Northam and several high-level elected officials and lawmakers wrote to the board of directors to express their concern "about the clear and appalling culture of ongoing structural racism" in the college.
It cited "terrible new revelations" reported by the Washington Post on October 17 about social media attacks and threats of lynching against black cadets and a professor who loved to share her family's history at the Ku Klux Klan .
The letter said the state will initiate an independent review of the culture, policies and practices of the college, which has 1,700 cadets and is located in the remote western part of the state.
Boland replied that he welcomed the review but said the incidents in Post's history, some of which were many years old, were isolated and did not reflect the culture of VMI.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Bill Tarrant and David Gregorio)

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