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Governor McDonnell’s Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation and Investment Holds First Full Meeting

Posted by Stephen on July 12, 2010

Governor Speaks to Members and Attendees About Need to Equip Virginia’s Students with Tools and Skills for Success in 21st-Century Global Economy 

MIDLOTHIAN- Governor McDonnell spoke to members and attendees today at the first full meeting of the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation and Investment. 

In March, Governor McDonnell issued Executive Order #9, establishing the Commission.  The forty-five member commission is chaired by former University of Virginia Rector Thomas F. Farrell II, Chairman, President and CEO of Dominion Resources; and, vice-chaired by Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), a government teacher at Manchester High School in Chesterfield County.

The Commission includes 8 Presidents of Virginia colleges.  The commission will focus on increasing educational attainment, implementing innovation and ensuring cost containment and predictability, and developing partnerships for research and economic development. 

Speaking at the meeting, Governor McDonnell noted, “The pace of technological change has become lightning fast; the winners in the global economy are the inventors and the innovators.   It is abundantly clear that higher education is a powerful engine of economic growth and produces one of the highest returns on investment of any public or private program.   The best jobs in the knowledge-based economy go to be best prepared workers.  And the states and countries with the best trained workforces are the magnets for business investment, job creation, and economic growth.”

Governor McDonnell continued, “The work of this commission is vital.  Over the course of the commission, members will focus on forward-thinking approaches to ensure that our students are able to obtain a first-rate college education that will enable them to grow and compete in the 21st-century global economy.  I thank Chairman Farrell and Vice-Chairman Cox for their leadership and look forward to seeing the commission’s results.  And a special thank you to President Smith and the staff and students at John Tyler Community College for hosting this first meeting.”    

As formally stated in Executive Order #9, the Governor’s Higher Education Commission will focus on:

  • Preserving and enhancing the instructional excellence of Virginia’s leading universities and of the higher education system as a whole;
  • Increasing significantly the percentage of college-age Virginians enrolling in institutions of higher education and attaining degrees;
  • Attracting and preparing young people for the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) areas and other disciplines (e.g., healthcare and advanced manufacturing) where skill shortages now exist and/or unmet demand is anticipated;
  • Forging effective public-private partnerships and regional strategies for business recruitment, workforce preparation, and university-based research;
  • Making Virginia a national leader in providing higher education opportunities to military personnel and veterans;
  • Crafting a sustainable higher education funding model that will systematically move Virginia toward higher levels of educational attainment and economic competitiveness over the next decade-and-a-half; and
  • Developing innovative ways to deliver quality instruction, cost-saving reform strategies, and affordable new pathways to degree attainment for capable Virginians regardless of income or background.

Thomas F. Farrell II, Chairman of the Governor’s Higher Education Commission said, “This commission is focused on giving more Virginians affordable access to the kind of educational opportunities that will prepare them for good jobs and high incomes in the knowledge-based economy.  We will measure all policy ideas by that standard.  It is not just about reform or just about more resources.  It is about both resources and reform, about both investment and innovation.”

*Past news releases on Governor’s Higher Education Commission can be found here:


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