Originally created 02/14/98

All-male university in works



CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Southern Military Institute, a planned private, all-male school, is targeting donors from two state schools whose males-only policies were overturned as it seeks to buy a Texas campus and enroll its first class this fall, a spokeswoman said Friday.

The college needs to raise about $250,000 in the next few weeks to cover closing costs for the former Ambassador University campus in Big Sandy, Texas, which is east of Dallas, Sallie Baldwin said.

Southern Military Institute will run an ad seeking donations in The (Charleston) Post and Courier this weekend and future ads in the Washington Times and the conservative magazine Human Events, she said.

The ads are designed to reach many alumni of The Citadel and Virginia Military Institute, she said.

The idea for the school began after the U.S. Supreme Court in 1996 struck down the all-male admissions policy at VMI, forcing VMI and The Citadel to admit women. As a private school, it would not be subject to the court ruling.

Some Citadel and VMI alumni began planning last year to raise the $50 million they estimated it would take to open a private, Christian, all-male military college.

Ms. Baldwin, who is on Southern Military's board, is a former president of Women In Support of The Citadel that promoted single-sex education during The Citadel's legal fight.

She said Southern Military has a letter of intent from an investment group to buy the Texas property, which has been vacant less than a year. The school must come up with the closing costs and then would have a mortgage with the investment group.

She refused to discuss details, saying others are interested in the property as well.

"Things would have to move fast" for the school to enroll its first class this fall, she said. "It may not be an attainable goal but it's what we are shooting for."

Most of the Ambassador campus facilities can be used immediately, she said. That includes a college library that still has books, which would be included in the sale.

A web site operated by Southern Military estimates tuition, room, board and other fees would amount to about $17,000 a year but says the final figure could be 10 percent to 15 percent lower.

It said applicants would have to meet academic standards comparable to The Citadel and VMI and "be capable of completing a rigorous engineering and science curriculum."