VBHEC Statement on Governor Northam’s Higher Education Announcement

G. Gilmer Minor, III, chairman of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, issued the following statement today regarding Governor Northam’s announcement at George Mason University:


“The unprecedented challenges that the pandemic has created for Virginia’s higher education institutions and the students and communities are staggering in their implications. Today’s announcement of financial restructuring options is an important element of the solution, and we applaud Governor Northam and Secretary Layne for fashioning this needed relief.

Virginia’s colleges, universities, and community colleges are uniquely important to the health, safety, employment, forthcoming recovery, and long-term resilience of our Commonwealth. They routinely rank among the nation’s best, and are chiefly responsible for Virginia’s major successes like the Amazon HQ2 win and recapture of CNBC’s #1 business ranking. Thousands of students, employees, families, and communities depend on them for an economic lifeline.

The still-unfolding fallout from the pandemic has placed these assets in serious jeopardy. Our colleges are experiencing sharply increased costs and significant revenue losses that are only partially offset by federal CARES Act funding. With many students from low- or middle-income families struggling to make ends meet during the current recession, Virginia’s higher education institutions have wisely avoided or minimized tuition and fee increases. Sustaining the financial soundness of the institutions and their ability to provide anticipated levels of student financial aid must be top state priorities.

Our higher education leaders are doing their part to manage effectively through this crisis. Even before the pandemic, Virginia’s colleges and universities were among the nation’s most productive and efficient, producing top graduation rates at lower costs than neighboring states and peer institutions. They are committed to continuous improvement and to enhancing service delivery models in response to the transformative changes now occurring across the land.
G. Gilmer Minor, III, chairman of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, issued the following statement today regarding Governor Northam’s announcement at George Mason University:

“The unprecedented challenges that the pandemic has created for Virginia’s higher education institutions and the students and communities are staggering in their implications. Today’s announcement of financial restructuring options is an important element of the solution, and we applaud Governor Northam and Secretary Layne for fashioning this needed relief.

Virginia’s colleges, universities, and community colleges are uniquely important to the health, safety, employment, forthcoming recovery, and long-term resilience of our Commonwealth. They routinely rank among the nation’s best, and are chiefly responsible for Virginia’s major successes like the Amazon HQ2 win and recapture of CNBC’s #1 business ranking. Thousands of students, employees, families, and communities depend on them for an economic lifeline.

The still-unfolding fallout from the pandemic has placed these assets in serious jeopardy. Our colleges are experiencing sharply increased costs and significant revenue losses that are only partially offset by federal CARES Act funding. With many students from low- or middle-income families struggling to make ends meet during the current recession, Virginia’s higher education institutions have wisely avoided or minimized tuition and fee increases. Sustaining the financial soundness of the institutions and their ability to provide anticipated levels of student financial aid must be top state priorities.

Our higher education leaders are doing their part to manage effectively through this crisis. Even before the pandemic, Virginia’s colleges and universities were among the nation’s most productive and efficient, producing top graduation rates at lower costs than neighboring states and peer institutions. They are committed to continuous improvement and to enhancing service delivery models in response to the transformative changes now occurring across the land.

As business leaders, we understand that while it takes many years if not decades to grow a successful institution, it only takes a single major shock or brief period of severe financial stress to undo one.

Today’s announcement by Governor Northam and Secretary Layne is an important step in the Commonwealth’s response to the unprecedented challenges facing Virginia’s higher education system and the students and communities they serve. We are grateful for this action, and look forward to further necessary responses as work on the state budget progresses.”

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