Governor McDonnell Ceremonially Signs ‘Top Jobs’ Higher Education Reform Legislation

Early Review of Enrollment Projections Indicate Virginia Institutions Adding 6,000 New Slots for In-State Students this Fall Because of Legislation McDonnell Also Announces Expansion of Center for Excellence in Education’s National Lab Skills Initiative in Virginia Governor: “In order to get a good job, you need a good education. This is a jobs bill.” RICHMOND – Flanked by students from Virginia colleges and universities, Governor Bob McDonnell today ceremonially signed the “Preparing for the Top Jobs of the 21st Century: The Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011” during a morning bill signing at Dominion Resources in Richmond. During the bill signing, Governor McDonnell announced that as a result of this new legislation, based on an early review of enrollment projections, Virginia institutions of higher learning will be adding approximately 6,000 new slots for in-state students this fall.

The ‘Top Jobs’ legislation will increase access and affordability of higher education in the Commonwealth, creating a pathway towards awarding 100,000 more degrees over the next 15 years and will bring more innovation and accountability and STEM concentration to Virginia’s colleges and universities.

Governor McDonnell also announced this morning the expansion of the Center for Excellence in Education’s National Lab Skills Initiative (NLSI) in Virginia. The expansion of NLSI aligns with the goal of Governor McDonnell’s Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation and Investment and the ‘Top Jobs’ legislation to better align higher education and business leaders in increasing degree access for jobs of the future.

The NLSI initiative will:

· Provide a clearinghouse of content rich programming to urban and rural underserved teachers

· Host “Share-A-Thons” to work with Virginia teachers to share and develop lab activities that are cost effective, replicable, scalable, and may involve public/private partnerships in Abingdon, Manassas, Richmond and Norfolk

· Disseminate cost-effective lab activities developed by teachers for teachers in Virginia

Virginia’s partners on NLSI include George Mason University, ExxonMobil, Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, Systemic Solutions at Northern Virginia Community College the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and many other scientific organizations.

Speaking at today’s bill-signing ceremony, Governor McDonnell commented, “It has only been a little over three months since this legislation was passed and we are already seeing the results of the ‘Top Jobs’ higher education legislation. Because of the reforms implemented through this bill, 6,000 more in-state students will be able to enroll at one at a Virginia college or university this fall. This legislation will help more Virginia students receive a college education. That is a great first step toward our goal of awarding 100,000 more degrees over the next 15 years from Virginia’s public, private and for-profit higher education institutions.”

Governor McDonnell continued, “In order to get a good job, you need a good education. This is a jobs bill. Our administration is focused on ensuring that good jobs come to Virginia. We must make sure that we have the highly educated workforce needed to fill those jobs. This legislation will make certain that we do. Every Virginian deserves the opportunity to access one of our higher education institutions. Our ‘Top Jobs’ legislation puts in place policies that makes sure our students are better prepared for the high-quality, high-paying jobs of the future by placing a greater emphasis on STEM and other high demand subjects. Additionally, it increases access and affordability by putting in place the framework for sustained reform-based investment; reigning in rising tuition costs; and, better utilizing facilities, technology and resources year round. Finally, through partnerships such as Virginia’s partnership with the NLSI, we are better aligning higher education and the business sector to increase access to best programs, information and labs for our students. I have said many times before that ‘Virginia is Open for Business.’ This legislation will go far to ensure that is the case by putting in place a higher education policy which attracts new employers and new good-paying jobs to the Commonwealth.”

Senator Edd Houck commented, “We have to find new pathways for additional numbers of Virginia students to receive degrees, and provide incentives to our already efficient higher education institutions to increase innovation to make a college education more affordable for Virginia families. This legislation provides a clear roadmap to begin addressing these challenges to strengthen our workforce and prepare them for the jobs of the 21st century.”

Delegate Kirk Cox noted, “The opportunity for more Virginia students to attend our top colleges and universities has been a priority of the General Assembly for some time. Various approaches have been considered. This legislation adopts an incentive-based approach encouraging our institutions to make additional slots available to in-state students, and we are already seeing a positive response.”

Former University of Virginia Rector Thomas F. Farrell II, who is Chairman, President and CEO of Dominion Resources and Chairman of the Higher Education Commission, added, “When businesses look at where to open, one of the top requirements is that there is a workforce qualified to fill the jobs. Through the ‘Top Jobs’ higher education reform legislation, Virginia will award 100,000 more degrees in the next 15 years, making Virginia one of the most highly educated states in the nation. Additionally, this legislation ensures our children are prepared for the future by placing a greater emphasis on the science, technology, engineering mathematics and other high demand subjects that 21st century jobs require. These reforms are essential to business recruitment and will help continue Virginia’s economic growth for years to come.”

James Madison University President Linwood Rose concluded, “The college and university presidents are grateful to Governor McDonnell and the General Assembly for their commitment to the absolute need for a strong and vibrant higher education system. The ‘Top Jobs’ bill articulates a number of reforms that will expand Virginia's capacity to be a leader among states in possessing a highly educated workforce. Only by providing an accessible, affordable and high quality education for all qualified Virginians will we have sustained economic growth and the prosperity with which it is associated.”

About the “Preparing for the Top Jobs of the 21st Century: The Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011”: Based on recommendations of Governor McDonnell’s bipartisan Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation and Investment, which offered recommendations in 3 major areas: greater economic opportunity and impact; reform-based investment; and affordable access for all capable and committed Virginia students.


· Provides a roadmap for achieving an additional 100,000 undergraduate (associate and bachelor’s) degrees for Virginians over the next 15 years by (1) increasing enrollment of Virginia students, (2) improving graduation and retention rates, and (3) assisting students with some college credit to complete degrees through public and private higher education institutions in Virginia.

· Focuses additional degree attainment in high-demand, high-income fields (e.g., STEM, healthcare) that are keys to top jobs in 21st Century economy. Provides for creation of a not-for-profit STEM public-private partnership to fully engage the business and professional communities in the strategic direction and promotion of STEM initiatives. Incentivizes public-private collaboration on STEM-related and other commercially viable research.

· Higher education’s return on investment is second to none. The Weldon Cooper Center’s study for the Virginia Business Higher Education Council shows that every 1 dollar currently invested in Virginia’s public higher ed system yields 13 dollars in increased economic output. College graduates on average earn twice as much as those without college degrees.


 · Provides for sustained reform-based investment and innovation in delivery of higher education services, as well as extending college degree opportunities to more citizens in creative, cost-effective ways. Institutions’ six- year plans will address strategies and use of incentives for:

o Year round use of physical facilities and instructional resources

o Technology-enhanced instruction and resource-sharing across the higher ed system

o Innovative and economical degree paths

 o Ongoing restructuring and managerial reforms

 · Reverses the dramatic funding reduction cycle to higher education through a new comprehensive funding model framework with four components: basic operations and instruction; enrollment growth funding; need-based financial aid (for low- and middle-income families); and financial incentives to promote innovation and increased economic impact.

 · Establishes a comprehensive and streamlined six-year planning process to aid college, university, and executive and legislative branch officials in implementing the long-term policies of the “Top Jobs” Act and in improving coordination among institutions and the Commonwealth.

 Creates a collaborative Higher Education Advisory Committee consisting of executive and legislative branch representatives and representatives of higher education institutions to develop performance criteria for incentives, institution-specific base funding policies, economic opportunity metrics for degree programs, opportunities for additional, cost-saving managerial autonomy and efficiency reforms, and other key policies.


 · Provides enrollment-based funding to increase access for qualified Virginia students at public and private colleges and universities.

 · Enhances long-term affordability through a three-prong strategy: (1) puts in place a model for stable and predictable state funding support, relieving the upward pressure on tuition over time as state funding rebounds; (2) provides for development of need-based financial aid options aimed at middle-income as well as low-income families; (3) provides for development of a Revenue Stabilization Fund (higher education rainy-day fund) to help buffer higher education funding against future cuts that produce sudden and sharp tuition spikes during economic downturns.

To learn more about the legislation signed today, SB1459/HB2510: “Preparing for the Top Jobs of the 21st Century: The Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011,” please visit: