The Virginia Military Institute’s superintendent resigned on Monday, after Virginia’s governor ordered an independent investigation of allegations of systemic racism at the state-supported military college.
Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, 80, who has led the school since 2003, said in his resignation letter that the staff of Gov. Ralph Northam and members of the Virginia legislature had “lost confidence in my leadership” and had asked him on Friday to resign.
General Binford, a retired four-star Army general, led the 181-year-old school through a stormy re-examination of its past and of a culture that, for generations, venerated Confederate leaders and slave owners and staged yearly commemoration of a rebel charge.
The institute has long been associated with the Confederate cause. In 1864 the entire cadet corps took up arms in the Battle of New Market. The Confederate general Stonewall Jackson became an instructor at the institute after the Civil War.
In recent years, a growing number of students have called for a statue of Stonewall Jackson to be removed from its central place on the campus.
General Binford made efforts to address issues of racism at the college this year, but said in a letter over the summer that he would not rename buildings honoring Confederates and that the statue of Jackson would remain, calling him a “staunch Christian” and a “military genius.”
Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that Black students at the college “endure relentless racism” and were subjected to mock lynchings and other abuse.