Class of 2016 Gets "Mugged"
Here is a VMI-themed “brainteaser”: After being recognized as a class on February 2, the Brother Rats of the Class of 2016 returned to their Barrack’s rooms. There, all of them were mugged. However, no crime was committed. How is this possible?
The answer: No crime was committed because the VMI Foundation had continued an annual custom, begun in 2001, of presenting each member of the new classes with a coffee mug commemorating this important moment. As in the past, one side of the mug has the new class’ “name” and the other the logo of the VMI Foundation and the word, “Breakout” and the year of the event. Each mug also contained a congratulatory message from the VMI Foundation’s chief executive officer, Brian Scott Crockett. This Breakout “mugging” is conducted by VMI Foundation staff members and a select group of third classmen.
According to Patrick Webb, the VMI Foundation’s Vice President for Annual & Reunion Giving, the program began when “the VMI Foundation decided that it was important to make cadets aware of the important role that private financial support—and the alumni and friends who provide it—play in sustaining and improving their education.”
The distribution of the mugs, accompanied by a congratulatory note, was a way to provide cadets a tangible reminder of the VMI Foundation’s role of raising and stewarding financial support from alumni and friends. Based on the excellent response to the mugs, the VMI Foundation established its Barracks Program through which it engages cadets throughout their time in Barracks, educating them on how important private money has been, is, and will be to cadets.
Colonel Webb, who also is responsible for the Barracks Program, explained, “Following Breakout and the selection of class officers, we start working with the 4th Class, beginning by giving them examples of what donors, especially alumni, support and why they do so—because of the close bond they feel to those who follow them into Barracks. We challenge them to build on this legacy and to apply the Brother Rat spirit in developing a sense of commitment to give back to VMI now and after graduation.”
The Barracks Program’s success can be seen in the generous Graduation Gifts that classes present and, just as important, the increased participation rates among younger alumni. “They emerge from VMI mindful of what donors did for them; therefore, they already are thinking about how to help those who will follow them. They also are ready to encourage their fellow alumni to give back, too.”
And it all starts with a mugging.