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Coalition draws support of respected Virginia leaders


BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 30, 2009 – Grow By Degrees, a campaign initiated by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council (VBHEC) to promote economic growth through high-impact investment and innovation in Virginia's public colleges, universities, and community colleges, today announced that 10 respected Virginia leaders – all present or former Governors and U.S. Senators – have joined the Grow By Degrees coalition as honorary co-chairs.

Virginia Tech is a member of the Grow By Degrees coalition.

“This display of broad, bipartisan support is further evidence of the emerging consensus in the Commonwealth that higher education investment and innovation hold the key to our state’s economic recovery, sustained expansion, and job creation,” commented VBHEC Chairman W. Heywood Fralin. “We applaud these highly respected leaders for lending their valuable endorsements to this campaign for Virginia’s economic future.”

The honorary co-chairs announced today are:

  • The Honorable Timothy M. Kaine, Governor
  • The Honorable Mark R. Warner, U.S. Senator; Governor 2002–2006
  • The Honorable James H. Webb Jr., U.S. Senator
  • The Honorable John W. Warner, U.S. Senator, 1979–2009
  • The Honorable James S. Gilmore III, Governor, 1998–2002
  • The Honorable George F. Allen, Governor, 1994-1998; U.S. Senator, 2001-2007
  • The Honorable L. Douglas Wilder, Governor, 1990-1994
  • The Honorable Gerald L. Baliles, Governor, 1986-1990
  • The Honorable Charles S. Robb, Governor, 1982-1986; U. S. Senator, 1989-2001
  • The Honorable A. Linwood Holton Jr., Governor, 1970-1974

The endorsements by current and former state leaders today follow expressions of strong support for the Grow By Degrees campaign by both party nominees for Governor in the current statewide election. State Senator R. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate, and former Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, the Republican candidate, will deliver major addresses on higher education this week at “The Virginia Summit on Economic Competitiveness & Higher Education.” The Summit, sponsored by the Grow By Degrees campaign, will be held in Richmond, Virginia, at the Greater Richmond Convention Center on Thursday, October 1, 2009.

In addition to the addresses by McDonnell and Deeds, the Summit on Thursday will include:

Release of the first comprehensive study of the economic impact of Virginia’s public higher education system.

Opening remarks by Governor Tim Kaine.

A panel discussion featuring four former Governors (Gerald Baliles and George Allen of Virginia; Robert Ehrlich of Maryland; and Michael Easley of North Carolina) who will address the importance of higher education to state economic development efforts.

A panel discussion featuring five noted business leaders who will describe the impact of Virginia’s colleges, universities and community colleges on expansion of the job-creating private sector of the economy.

For more information on the Summit, the Grow By Degrees coalition, and the campaign’s policy priorities, go to www.growbydegrees.org.

About the Grow by Degrees coalition: The coalition is comprised of business, community, education, and economic development leaders and organizations from throughout Virginia. Though they reflect a variety of perspectives and backgrounds, coalition members share a conviction that Virginians, regardless of income, should have access to the broader economic horizons opened by a college education. They also share a belief that only a sustained program of investment and innovation in higher education – embodied in state law and in the business plans of our educational institutions – will make Virginia a national and international leader in attracting new business investment, research grants, and excellent job opportunities in the new economy.

About the Virginia Business Higher Education Council: VBHEC was founded in 1994 by Virginia business leaders on the principle that the prosperity of Virginia and the well-being of its citizens is fundamentally tied to access to a strong system of public colleges and universities. A nonprofit, nonpartisan partnership between Virginia’s business community and higher education leadership, VBHEC’s mission is to enhance the performance of Virginia’s public colleges, universities, and community colleges and their funding by state government so they can produce the greatest possible positive impact on Virginia’s economy. VBHEC is committed to educating the public about higher education’s crucial role in Virginia’s economy, and it strives to secure the support needed for the Commonwealth’s colleges, universities, and community colleges to rank among the nation’s best.

Story provided by Virginia Business Higher Education Council.