The "Grow By Degrees" coalition, a campaign of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, held a series of press events Monday to spread the message that the Commonwealth's road toward economic recovery begins with the benefits of investing in the state's public universities and colleges. Prominent business leaders were joined by leaders of public colleges and universities to announce the statewide effort to "facilitate sustained economic growth in Virginia through high-impact investments and innovations in our public colleges, universities and community colleges," the group's release said.
William & Mary President Taylor Reveley said the College supports any effort to highlight that funding for higher education - both in the preparation for students to be productive citizens and the benefits of economic development and research - is a great investment for the Commonwealth.
"It's wonderful to see the coalition making clear how important investing in the state's colleges and universities will be to the commonwealth's progress in the 21st century," Reveley said. "I am hopeful this will change the context in which higher education is engaged in our state."
Coalition representatives said the group will work in the coming months with Virginia lawmakers, gubernatorial candidates Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrat Creigh Deeds and other leaders across the state to develop policy proposals to support a number of priorities, including:
- A 10-year program of investment designed to award 70,000 additional degrees by 2020.
- Concentration on high-income, high demand sectors such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
- Create cost-efficient new ways to access college degrees.
- Expand job-specific training at Virginia's community colleges.
- Invest in and promote privately funded university research activity that creates a measurable number of new jobs.
- Establish a regional system that promotes economic development and workforce training with colleges and universities as partners.
- Make college more affordable for low- and middle-income students and families.
The coalition also announced an interactive Web site that will be updated regularly with information on the progress of the campaign.