Monday, June 22, 2009

Business, Education Team Up as GBD

Heywood Fralin helped kick off Grow By Degrees at the Taubman^

Heywood Fralin of Medical Facilities of America in Roanoke and several other prominent regional business and education leaders helped kick off Grow By Degrees this morning at the Taubman Museum of Art. GBD is a campaign initiated by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council (VBHEC) to promote economic growth through high-impact investment and innovation in Virginia’s higher education facilities.

Fralin was joined by Nancy Howell Agee, COO, Carilion Clinic; Charles Steger, president of Virginia Tech; Penny Kyle, president of Radford University; Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the Virginia Community College System.

Grow By Degrees advocates a sustained, long-term program of higher education investment and reform, embodied in state law, to ensure affordable access for Virginia students and to generate strong economic activity and growth revenues for the Commonwealth.

Prominent business leaders joined other members of the Grow By Degrees coalition to announce the statewide effort.

“It is a startling reality that 75 percent of voters we polled in Virginia say a college degree is needed to succeed in today’s economy, but only 35 percent of college-age Virginians enroll in college and only 42 percent of Virginians have college degrees,” said VBHEC Chairman Fralin. “There is a broad gap between Virginians’ expectations and reality, and to turn those numbers around we need to take action now.”

Fralin released key findings from two public opinion surveys conducted jointly in December 2008 and March 2009 by respected Republican and Democratic polling firms. The findings show broad public support for promoting economic recovery and long-term growth through targeted investments in higher education initiatives.

Grow By Degrees supports a comprehensive funding and strategic plan for higher education based on the following seven policy priorities:
  • Awarding a cumulative 70,000 additional associate, bachelor’s, and graduate degrees by 2020 Concentrating new degrees in high-income, high-demand sectors such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and other areas where there is a shortage of skilled workers
  • Creating innovative and cost-efficient new ways to access college degrees
  • Expanding job-specific training at Virginia’s broadly popular and affordable community colleges Increasing public-private collaboration on university-based research
  • Enhancing economic development and work force training in each region of the state with colleges, universities, and community colleges playing prominent roles
  • Making college more affordable for low- and middle-income students and families
The Grow By Degrees campaign is the broadest public initiative undertaken by VBHEC and is intended to promote broad-based support and dialogue concerning strategies for success in the knowledge-based economy. Members of the coalition will work with Virginia lawmakers and key decision makers to turn the seven priorities into substantive policy proposals that can help get Virginia back on the path to economic recovery and sustained growth. The organization’s Web site, provides an interactive platform for Virginia residents to participate in the dialogue and help shape the future of economic development and educational attainment in the Commonwealth.

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