Former Virginia Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, director and CEO of the Miller Center at the University of Virginia has been named the 2012 Hunter B. Andrews Distinguished Fellow in American Politics at the College of William & Mary. Baliles, who served as the 65th Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, will be on campus April 10-11 to meet with students, faculty and staff.
“Jerry Baliles is one of the preeminent Virginians of our time,” said William & Mary President Taylor Reveley. “His time as governor was one of great accomplishment and civility. In countless ways, his contributions to the public good have been enormous. We are very fortunate to have him as our Hunter Andrews Fellow this year.”
Baliles has had an extraordinary career in public service. He was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates (1976-82), the attorney general of Virginia (1982-85) and Governor of the Commonwealth (1986-1990).
As governor, he chaired the National Governors Association, the Southern Growth Policies Board and the Southern States Energy Board. He also appointed the first woman to the Virginia Supreme Court.
During his gubernatorial term, many of Baliles’ legislative initiatives focused on improving Virginia’s transportation infrastructure. He was termed the “transportation governor” and guided a $422 million-a-year revenue package for transportation through a General Assembly Special Session. Baliles’ legislative initiatives also focused on reducing pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, fighting illiteracy and supporting higher education.
Throughout his political career Baliles strove to make higher education widely available to Virginians. He founded the Patrick County Education Foundation and served as chair of both the Commission on the Academic Presidency and the Task Force on the State of the Presidency in Higher Education, for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. While governor, he hosted President George H.W. Bush’s Summit on Education.
In 1987, Baliles signed the Chesapeake Bay Agreement on behalf of the Commonwealth. Following his term as governor, he chaired the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Blue Ribbon Finance Panel, which was established to find ways to fiscally support the clean-up of the Bay. In 2005, Baliles was named Conservationist of the Year by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and in 2010 he received the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay's Environmental Leadership Award.
Following his tenure in public office, he entered private law practice as a partner in the firm of Hunton & Williams. During this time, he was asked by President Bill Clinton to chair the National Commission to Ensure a Strong and Competitive Airline Industry. In April 2006, Baliles became chief executive officer of U.Va.’s Miller Center, which is a non-partisan institute that studies the presidency, political history and public policy, and works to provide insight into governance of the United States.
Currently, Baliles also serves on the corporate boards of Altria Group, Inc. and the Norfolk Southern Corporation, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress and the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education. Previously, he served on the boards of Newport News Shipbuilding, PBS, Shenandoah Life Insurance Company, the Nature Conservancy in Virginia, and the Virginia Historical Society.
Baliles holds a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and a J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School as well as 11 honorary degrees – including one received from William & Mary in 1987 when he spoke at Charter Day.
The Hunter B. Andrews Fellowship in American Politics was created in 1998 by friends of the former state senator and William & Mary alumnus who died in 2005. He served on the William & Mary Board of Visitors from 2003-2005.The fellowship program brings notable journalists, politicians and scholars to campus each year to talk with students, faculty and staff. Previous fellows have included, for instance, Washington Post columnist David Broder; Tom Foley (D-Wash.), 49th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; Representative and civil rights leader John Lewis (D-Ga.); journalist, author and Supreme Court scholar Linda Greenhouse and former Sen. John Warner (R-Va.). The 2011 Fellow was Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.).