After a highly decorated 36-year career in the military, Maj. Gen. Walter Lord took up the role of president of the Valley Forge Military Academy and College in April. This fall marks the Philadelphia native’s first full year at the helm. Lord is just the second alumnus to hold the position since the school’s founding in 1928.
MLT: What’s it been like being back at your alma mater?
WL: It’s been an absolute dream. I pinch myself every time I walk across the street to work. I never imagined that I’d have the pleasure of coming back here to head the school that truly contributed to every success I’ve ever realized in life.
MLT: What are some of the challenges and rewards?
WL: I’ve got to balance the traditions I remember with what will make [cadets] successful in today’s world. I’ll never compromise our corevalues here at Valley Forge. The character development, the honor code, the sense of discipline and the structure we learn here—they’re enduring.
MLT: Did you know you wanted to go into education?
WL: Actually, yes. Earlier in my career I thought it would be nice to maybe teach after a military career, to teach history or military science or something like that, But then, much later, I wanted to go to a university and run their veterans’ affairs program.
MLT: Was it ever your goal to end up back at VFMAC?
WL: When you’re retiring from the army as a general, they have a weeklong course. On the morning of the second day, the instructor said, “I want each of you in 10 seconds to tell me what your dream job is, with no caveats.” I broke the rule—I caveated it. I said, “This is never going to happen, but my dream job is to be president of Valley Forge Military Academy and College.” That was in April of 2017. And he looked me in the eye and said, “Never say never.” And here I am.
MLT: What are some of your goals?
WL: To grow the corps. When we left here on May 24, we had 444 cadets in our population between the academy and the college. I’ve got 636 beds. If I can recruit to the number of beds, it provides more opportunities for the cadets who are here. When I was a cadet here, the cadets truly led the corps. We were trained, we were mentored, and we were empowered to do that. The larger the corps, the more cadets you have, the more opportunity you have to allow cadets to lead.