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Good to Great

How Margin of Excellence Programs Enrich a Top-Ranked Cadet Education

The tradition of graduates giving back to their alma maters has existed since the likes of Harvard and Yale opened their doors centuries ago. But it wasn’t until the early 1960s that the West Point Association of Graduates (WPAOG) first organized its fundraising efforts on behalf of West Point and its Superintendent, General William Westmoreland ’36. Together, WPAOG and the Academy have coordinated their efforts to ensure that private funding is secured for the Academy’s top priorities and always to support the Margin of Excellence (MoE).

Above and Beyond

Federal funding targets the basic core programs required to earn a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission in the United States Army, including tuition, room and board; an accredited academic program; military and physical training; moral-ethical training, and basic facilities in which to conduct these programs. Yet in today’s complex geopolitical environment and competitive higher education landscape, federal funding stops short of what is really needed to recruit and educate the very best future officers. Privately funded Margin of Excellence programs augment the core mission of the Academy, and go “above and beyond” to create opportunities for cadets that make a West Point education not just good, but exceptional, and result in a program that is consistently top-ranked in the nation.
Approximately 15 percent of the annual resources available to West Point comes from private funding and supports Margin of Excellence programs. These supplemental programs and activities build upon the high-quality core officer education provided by federal funds and allow cadets to reach their highest potential. The Margin of Excellence includes a range of programs, facilities, and opportunities that the Superintendent and Academy leaders have identified as most important for preparing future leaders of character. This includes academic programs like Semester Abroad, the Modern War Institute, and West Point’s Cyber Initiatives, as well as Cadet Activities, Athletic Teams, and brick-and-mortar projects, such as the new Foley Enners Nathe Lacrosse Center, Visitors Center, and West Point Cemetery expansion.

Cadets visit Tianament Square on an AIAD to ChinaAcademic Opportunities: Experiential Learning Through Immersion, Application and Access

Intellectual training at West Point is underpinned by the belief that the best officers are created from a broad-based education. West Point also believes that cadets should have the chance to engage in learning opportunities outside the classroom, because leadership in today’s Army demands this broader training. Off-campus study programs such as the Academy Scholars Program and cadet research projects offer cadets a wide range of experiences, from international cultural immersion to first-hand exploration of historical sites and multi-disciplinary internships with government agencies and organizations. In addition, donor-funded conferences and speaker series bring noted policymakers, academics, and corporate leaders to lecture, teach, and interact with the Corps of Cadets. The Dean of the Academic Board’s strategic vision is to expand access to these MoE-supported educational opportunities. As a result of these experiences, cadets expand their areas of expertise and further enrich their academic education at West Point.

Extra-Curricular Activities: Leadership Through Participation and Competition

Many opportunities outside of a cadet’s formaldaily structure also allow for personal and professional growth. The Academy takes these opportunities—sports teams and choirs, academic clubs and religious groups, to name a few—just as seriously, in part because cadets are as likely to learn from one another on a practice field or in a debate hall as they are in a classroom. These activities give cadets a chance to put into practice the character and leadership skills instilled through their training and studies. Cadet clubs are vital leadership labs, calling for many of the same abilities expected of our combat leaders: the ability to coordinate logistics, to manage budgets, to maintain equipment, to deploy/ redeploy safely, and to win.

Margin of Excellence programs, through generous support from graduates and friends, help ensure that today’s West Point cadets receive the best education and training available to talented individuals eager to serve our nation. Support the Margin of Excellence with a gift to the Superintendents Fund.


 Margin of Excellence Program Sample

  Superintendent's Priorities
   Superintendent's Annual Fund
   Diversity & Inclusion Endowment
    Academy Scholars:
    • cultural immersion
    • internships
    • capstone research projects
   Academic Enrichment Programs
   Semester Abroad
   Staff Rides (historic battlefield visits)
   Dean’s Teams (academic competitions)
   Graduate Scholarship Program
   Study of Civil-Military Operations
   Cadet Cyber Research Center
  U.S. Corps of Cadets
   137 Cadet Clubs
   Modern War Institute
   Character Development Program
  Army West Point Athletics
   Athletic Team Endowments
   Facility enhancements
   A Club

Learn more about Academy Needs