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R-MA president announces retirement

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Randolph-Macon Academy President Major Gen. Henry M. Hobgood stands in front of the school in Front Royal. The school announced Monday that Hobgood will retire after the next school year. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Retired Air Force Major Gen. Henry M. Hobgood, president of Randolph Macon Academy in Front Royal plans to retire on July 1, 2013. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

This coming school year will be the last for Randolph-Macon Academy President Major General Henry M. Hobgood, the school announced Monday.

Hobgood will retire after 16 years as the military academy's president. He will leave behind quite a legacy, as he helped mold the institution into one of the most respected military college-prep school in the United States. He was also fundamental in the school's designation as a Falcon Foundation School, the successful completion of an $11 million capital campaign and the establishment of Stan Fulton Hall.

The general started his military career after graduating from a "small town high school" and then a university. He spent 32 years in the United States Air Force on active duty, and held several personnel, human resource and education training positions. After he retired, he said he felt the best thing was to continue his life's work in education.

"R-MA was a natural outgrowth of my military experience," he said Tuesday. "My wife and I felt this was a place we could do things together. It's been more of a calling than just a job for me."

Going into the position of president, Hobgood had planted firmly in his mind how he wanted things to be run at the school.

"I decided clearly how young people should be treated: with respect and dignity," he said. "All adults around kids should act as role models. And quite frankly, those are not ideas that are universally true in military prep schools."

With the idea in mind to treat the young students well, Hobgood said he felt the institution was "thirsty for that kind of leadership."

"What I believe -- what I think is factual -- is that as a result of hard work by the faculty, staff, students, the board of trustees and the community, R-MA has become one of the nation's top prep schools," he said, reflecting on the school's growth during his time there. "That's how you measure an institution, is by how the students do, and our kids are doing terrific."

Hobgood takes pride in focusing on building students' character at R-MA, as well as making sure they are ready for future education and interaction with others. Youth come from all over the globe to R-MA, making it richly diverse which adds to their experiences and knowledge when leaving the school, he said.

"Being insular is no longer an option. Being worldly is what you have to be," he said.

Education is a priority to Hobgood when it comes to the academy's focus.

"Our program is not about producing military professionals, though we are very proud when students choose to further their military career and serve our country," he said. "But it's really about producing students who are ready for college and the rest of their life as character-based people with values."

One thing that Hobgood said he greatly enjoys during the school year is meeting once a week with a group of students to mentor them and check on their progress.

"As any headmaster, to reach and educate your students you have to know who they are and where they're coming from," he said. Hobgood added that in order to make students comfortable in stopping by his office, he had to earn their respect.

"It's not about what's on my shoulders," he said, pointing to the stars on his uniform. "It's about how I earn the relationships with these students."

Hobgood will remain in his position for the 2012-2013 school year as the board of trustees launches a nationwide search to find a "high-quality replacement." He said he hopes to be somewhat involved in the process, but is confident that the right decisions will be made.

The general will stay in his home in Warren County with his wife Carolyn. He plans to remain involved in several community organizations as well.

"Of course, I hope to be of help to the school that I love a lot," he said of R-MA. "I will be here if they need me."

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