NOVA honored U.S. Senator Mark Warner’s service as Virginia governor by naming the Annandale Campus student services building for him in a ceremony on April 15.
Annandale Interim Provost Charlotte Calobrisi stated, “It was this same view of what our future could be that propelled Mark Warner as governor to work for one Virginia by investing in K-12 public education and in higher education, and we thank you, Senator Warner for all that you have done.”
NOVA President Scott Ralls likened Warner’s vision for higher education to that of another Virginia governor, Albertis Harrison, who declared at the dedication ceremony for the College’s original campus in Bailey’s Crossroads that it was “the academy of opportunity.”
“It is fitting,” Ralls said, “that as NOVA celebrates its 50th year, we do so by recognizing this one, particular individual who has done so much for the College and its students.”
Dr. Michael Wooten, NOVA College Board chair, and Dr. Belle Wheelan, NOVA’s third president and currently president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, who served as Governor Warner’s secretary of education, also spoke at the ceremony. Retired State Senator Charles Colgan, who represented Prince William County in the Senate of Virginia for 40 years and serves on the NVCC Educational Foundation Board of Directors, made concluding remarks before Warner rose to speak.
In September 2002, Warner chose the Annandale Campus as the site to begin the campaign for the first higher education bond in a decade. He eventually secured support for the $846 million in capital funding and higher education would remain a funding priority for Warner throughout several, challenging budget seasons.
In December 2005, Warner introduced his final proposed budget as governor. Once again, this included a vitally-needed, major capital budget initiative in support of the Commonwealth’s higher education facilities. Of the $632.4 million in general fund dollars proposed, over one-third ($232 million) was dedicated to buildings urgently needed by the Virginia Community College System.
Warner pointed out the importance of political parties working together to keep the people in mind. “When I was governor, the legislature was 2-to-1 Republican. Yet, we somehow put Virginia first, and Virginians benefitted,” he said. “NOVA is a starting point to have the opportunity to go on for a four-year degree.”
“I am so grateful for Dr. Ralls and Dr. Templin and Dr. Wheelan,” he said. “Candidates today go out and talk about what’s wrong with America. Well, there’s an awful lot right, and it takes place at community colleges. I wish those candidates would sit and talk with students here. Community colleges are the unique ‘secret sauce’ that makes America so special.”
The first in his family to graduate from college, Warner was his high school class president for three years, graduated from the George Washington University with a 4.0 GPA, and served as valedictorian of his college class. He went on to earn a law degree from Harvard Law School. Warner’s wife, Lisa Collis, her mother and father, and Warner’s 90-year-old father, Bob Warner, were also present for the event.
The ceremony was recorded by NOVA Video Services and is available online.