Navy Veteran Takes Helm At Academy Rear Adm. Virgil L. Hill Is The New President Of The Valley Forge Military Academy And College.

Posted: September 01, 1993

RADNOR — Rear Adm. Virgil L. Hill Jr., a Navy veteran of 32 years, which includes a stint as superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, today took office as president of Valley Forge Military Academy and College.

Hill, 55, barely had time changing jobs from Navy officer to an educator of an Army-style academy; he officially retired yesterday, which he took as a leave day.

"I enjoyed enormously my time in Annapolis as superintendent," Hill said. ''It was the most rewarding thing I ever had done and to be able to continue in education is incredibly important. This is an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I jumped at it."

Hill succeeds another Navy man, Vice Adm. N. Ronald Thunman, as seventh president of Valley Forge. Thunman served three years at the helm.

A native of High Point, N.C., Hill was selected after a nationwide search that involved 250 prospects. An academy spokeswoman said his background in education perhaps had been the deciding factor in his selection.

After high school, Hill enrolled for one year at Iowa State University to study nuclear engineering and then transferred to Annapolis. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1961 and was a Rhodes Scholar regional finalist.

His first assignment was in the submarine service under the tutelage of Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, regarded as the father of the nuclear Navy. Hill spent 15 years in the submarine service.

He was then assigned to intelligence, a stint at the Pentagon, another tour in submarine commands and his selection as the 53d superintendent of the Naval Academy, 1988-91.

His last tour of duty was in Norfolk, Va., as commander of the Navy's Operational Test and Evaluation Force, testing new ships and weapons. Retirement ceremonies were held in Norfolk on Aug. 14, after which Hill went on leave.

"My focus after retirement was to be able to stay in education in an administrative capacity," Hill said. "I will teach when I can, such as basic math and science courses."

Besides his savvy as an educator, Hill is also an adept fund-raiser. While superintendent at Annapolis, he spearheaded a successful $23 million capital campaign, the first for the academy.

His goals for Valley Forge, he said, are "to continue its excellence and grow and improve. The school is in great condition."

Valley Forge, which was founded in 1928, encompasses 115 acres in Radnor and Tredyffrin Townships.

The academy's enrollment has been increasing in recent years, and is expected to reach 700 cadets this year, up from 613 last year, for grades seventh through the second year of college. Its capacity is 730 cadets.

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