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Top official at Virginia Military Institute resigns amid reports of racism

Top official at Virginia Military Institute resigns amid reports of racism
Cadets of the Virginia Military Institute march in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2017, during the inauguration of President Donald Trump. File Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Virginia Military Institute said Monday that Superintendent J.H. Binford Peay III has resigned, a week after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered an investigation into systemic racism at the college.

Peay, a retired four-star general, tendered his resignation to the VMI board of visitors, board president John Boland said.

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"We accepted it with deep regret," Boland said in a statement.

"General Peay is a great American, patriot and hero. He has profoundly changed our school for the better in all respects."

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In his resignation letter, Peay said he stepped down after Northam and "certain legislative leaders" had lost confidence in his leadership at the institute.

Peay had been superintendent at the Lexington, Va., academy for more than 17 years.

Himself a VMI graduate, Northam and 10 other state leaders last week sought an independent, third-party investigation of the school's policies and culture after Black cadets told The Washington Post they endure "relentless racism" at the nation's oldest state-supported military college.

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The cadets cited "more than a dozen current and former students of color" who faced racial incidents at the school. One involved a White sophomore who told a Black freshman that he'd "lynch" his body and use his corpse as a "punching bag," they said.

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Boland has rejected accusations of racism at the 181-year-old military academy.

"Systemic racism does not exist here and a fair and independent review will find that to be true," he said last week.

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VMI had previously come under scrutiny from some alumni and students over Confederate statues on school grounds -- including one of Gen. Stonewall Jackson, who was an instructor at the school before the Civil War.

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