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Enrollment of first-year students at Virginia Military Institute dropped 25 percent this fall, The Washington Post reported.

VMI welcomed 375 freshmen last month, down from 496 freshmen in 2021 and 522 in 2020, which was a record for the college, according to data from the institution.

Cedric T. Wins, the superintendent of VMI and a retired Army major general, said at a Board of Visitors meeting Tuesday that college officials had hoped to enroll 520 new cadets.

VMI has struggled with criticism and internal divisions in recent years over reported racism and sexism at the institution. Former governor of Virginia Dr. Ralph Northam initiated an investigation into systemic racism at VMI in 2020 in response to reports from Black students and alumni.

In his presentation to the board, Wins shared a slide that listed various potential reasons for the freshman enrollment decline, including “VMI brand reputation tarnished in various media outlets” and “ideological differences among a divided alumni base.” He also mentioned national trends such as declining birth rates and enrollments across the country, the Post reported.

(This article was revised to correct a reference to VMI as the oldest military college in the country.)