“As a representative of the business community, I recognize that we must be part of the solution in partnership with our higher education institutions. We must provide more internship opportunities, innovative labs, and other ways to give students greater work experience prior to graduation while bringing their energy and creativity into our companies. This partnership is what excites me about this campaign.” – Victoria Harker, TEGNA, VBHEC
RICHMOND, VA – On Thursday, October 19, 2017 at the Partnering for Progress Conference at VCU, Victoria Harker, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of TEGNA, and member of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, delivered the following remarks to higher education leaders:
“Thanks, President Rao for your kind introduction. I am delighted to be with you today, on behalf of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council. Three weeks ago, not too far from here, the Virginia Business Higher Business Council in partnership with VCU and all the Virginia based public higher education institutions, launched a new campaign: Growth4VA. Hopefully, you have already heard about the campaign; I know many of you also attended the Virginia Summit on Higher Education and Economic Competitiveness last week where both candidates for governor discussed their priorities for higher education over the next four years.
“This new campaign is a partnership between business and higher education leaders in Virginia. It recognizes that Virginia’s colleges, universities, and community colleges are among the nation’s top performers, richly deserving our collective support. To that end, the business community and higher education along with bipartisan leadership are “stepping up” to:
- fuel the Virginia economy through job creation and better educated employees
- expand access to education and job opportunities for all Virginians, and
- regain Virginia’s #1 ranking for business.
“The business leaders have worked with our higher education leaders on the Growth4VA campaign to develop practical ideas for reform-based investment that will enable our partners in Virginia’s colleges and community colleges to step up in four important ways-
- Make Virginia a Top State for Talent
- Become known as the Home of Technology Based Innovators and Entrepreneurs
- Prepare Virginians for Great Jobs and Great Lives AND
- Provide Affordable Access to Education for All Virginians
“The announcement of the state-wide Growth4VA campaign is critical to higher education and the future of our economy…but most importantly to our students and families. We must work together to ensure we are the “Top State for Talent” by producing today’s workforce, while preparing for the needs and competition tomorrow’s will face. We are pleased that both candidates for Governor have embraced strong higher education and workforce development plans.
“Today’s conference, “Partnering for Progress” highlights the important work our institutions are doing to collaboratively bring innovation and technology-based platforms to higher education, while enhancing infrastructure effectiveness and efficiency to fund reinvestment opportunities. Too often politicians and policy makers are bombarded with headlines from other states about higher education inefficiencies, skyrocketing costs, and lack of faculty productivity. Here in the Commonwealth, however, our institutions are laser-focused on creating efficiencies, despite comparatively low spending and state support per student.
“I’ve seen this first hand during my service on the UVA Board of Visitors and in particular, my work as chair of the Finance Committee. I’m particularly proud of UVA’s innovative initiative-Organizational Excellence-which is a pan-institutional program designed to support and enable UVA’s strategic goals and priorities by streamlining processes and improving operational effectiveness. I believe Sara Collie, Associate Vice President and project manager of Organizational Excellence, is here today to share this effort with you.
“To that end, together, we must find opportunities to spotlight the great work being done to be more efficient and innovative in the way we are serving students and preparing them for the workforce and share these learnings across our institutions. Here in Virginia, we have several state-wide examples like VIVA, the Virtual Library of Virginia, a partnership between the Commonwealth and our public and private higher education institutions, designed to pool shared library resources. Likewise, we have the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program, a statewide effort to expand graduate engineering class offerings across the state. These programs leverage resources across the state versus duplicating efforts and demanding more of our limited resources… in business we call that having our ‘aces in the right places.’
“As I mentioned previously, I am here today on behalf of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council. The Virginia Business Higher Education Council (VBHEC) was founded in 1994 by Virginia business leaders on the principle that the prosperity of Virginia and the well-being of its citizens is fundamentally tied to access to a strong system of public colleges and universities. The Virginia Business Higher Education Council’s mission is to enhance the performance of Virginia’s public colleges, universities, and community colleges and their funding by state government so they can produce the greatest possible positive impact on Virginia’s economy. The Virginia Business Higher Education Council is committed to educating the public about higher education’s crucial role in Virginia’s economy, and it strives to secure the support needed for the Commonwealth’s colleges, universities, and community colleges to rank among the nation’s best.
“The Growth4VA campaign challenges both higher education and the business community to work more closely than ever to help get Virginia back to being #1 for business. As a representative of the business community, I recognize that we must be part of the solution in partnership with our higher education institutions. We must provide more internship opportunities, innovative labs, and other ways to give students greater work experience prior to graduation while bringing their energy and creativity into our companies. This partnership is what excites me about this campaign.
“This is not a simple task. Like any other worthwhile effort, it has its risks and challenges. Without the Growth4VA campaign and our work together to make higher education a priority with our policy makers, we face many threats including-
- Loss of talented young people to other states for higher paying jobs thus exasperating workforce shortages.
- Loss of top researchers and faculty who generate large research grants and inspire the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.
- Loss of potential for high risk populations who won’t have affordable access to our colleges and universities.
- Further economic compression or “middle class squeeze” on low and middle income students and families.
“Despite these hurdles, we must remain stalwart in our commitment to higher education while focusing on legislative reform and reinvestment on the priorities that will get Virginia back to being #1 for business.
“In closing, I would like to thank SCHEV for coordinating this broad-ranging event and thank you all, in advance, for the creative and collaborative sharing you will be doing today…. Success stories that must and will be shared with our elected leaders. Broadening and expanding the initiatives you are featuring today are key to accelerating the success of our institutions…to ensure that we are a Top State for Talent and #1 for business.
“And one final ask – Please be sure to sign up today to support Growth4VA. There is a display table with information on it or you can go to www.growth4va.com to register to be a part of this important campaign for Virginia’s future. As a member of the coalition, you will receive updates on the campaign, hear about the great things you and your colleagues are doing across the state. Your voice is critical to making this campaign a success and demonstrating the tremendous support we have in the Commonwealth for our higher education institutions and their role in economic development.
“Now, I would like to turn the podium over to Dr. Murray for the introduction of today’s keynote speaker.”