Youngkin, Miller discuss higher education

Featured Image: President Miller stands with Gov. Youngkin and VWU Trustee Taylor Franklin.

President Scott D. Miller|Courtesy

On Sept. 20, Governor Glenn Youngkin, Secretary of Education Aimee Guidara and presidents of Virginia Private Colleges (VPC) visited VWU to discuss private education in Virginia and statewide educational initiatives. 

Youngkin is no stranger to the area, as he attended high school at Norfolk Academy, where his basketball accolades are remembered. During his visit, Youngkin and President Scott D. Miller discussed the VWU campus and educational opportunities. 

Damien Kelly, a 2023 graduate of Virginia Wesleyan, now works with Residence Life and Marketing and Communications on campus. He joined Miller in welcoming Youngkin and discussing his work in higher education.

“It’s the ultimate goal of our governor to shape policies regarding higher education to directly reflect the needs of our students and staff in our state’s colleges/universities,” Kelly said.

The meetings between the VPC association, Guidara and Youngkin focused on more topics than college affordability. “The Governor is committed to expanded accessibility for students,” Miller said. “He also has a strong interest in early enrollment (he calls that the ‘pipeline for higher education’), nursing and health sciences, and workforce development.”

VPC is an association of 27 out of the 29 private colleges in Virginia. For the past two-and-a-half years, Miller has served as Chair of the Board.

The VPC association has a role in representing higher private education in Richmond. “This includes regular communication with the Governor, Secretary of Education, General Assembly, and a variety of other agencies,” Miller said.

The organization is multi-faceted. Aside from public policy, the association focuses on cost efficiency and professional development as well, the VPC website said. Miller is most proud of the association’s accomplishments with Virginia’s Tuition Assistance Grant (VTAG). 

“I am particularly proud that during my tenure we have been able to advance the VTAG program from $3,400 per student to $5,000 per student,” Miller said. “Over 700 of our students in our traditional College of Arts and Sciences are dependent on VTAG to help fund their education.”

Kelly praised the work of VTAG and Youngkin in a similar fashion.

“Governor Glenn Youngkin ensures that he works with our state legislature to have the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant… raised from the current $5,000 to $6,000 for the next academic year,” Kelly said.

The VPC association also functions through the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia. 

“The CICV Educational Foundation arm of VPC is a provider of a variety of services,” Miller said. According to Miller, these services include the Health Care Consortium and the Multiple-Employer Plan, both of which focus on employer benefits.

Virginia Wesleyan benefits from programs such as these as well. “This collaboration is one of the many ways that we have controlled costs of campus, contributing to our six consecutive years of no tuition increases,” Miller said

Youngkin’s visit to campus to meet with the VPC association was well-received by Miller and Kelly. 

I was pleased to be able to welcome Glenn Youngkin to Virginia Wesleyan University alongside President Scott Miller last week during the governor’s visit,” Kelly said.

As Miller steps down from his time as Chair of the Board of Directors at the VPC association, he will be succeeded by Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar, President of the University of Lynchburg. 

“She is a good friend and colleague, and we have worked closely on almost everything during my term,” Miller said.

By Rhian Tramontana