Bringing Higher Education into the Future with the New Dominion Project

Join me on February 21st when the New Dominion Project will release their first Strategy Paper, titled "Opportunity, Innovation, Investment: Bringing Higher Ed into the Future" at a panel where guests Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke), Peter Blake, Director of the State Council on HigherEducation for Virginia, and myself will speak on the state of education in the Commonwealth. 


Time/place: 9:00 – 10:00 am on February 21, 2012 in Room E3 of the General Assembly Building




Richmond, VA – The New Dominion Project PAC will host a panel discussion on innovation, job creation, and growth in Virginia featuring Senators John Edwards and Barbara Favola and other experts on higher ed.    


This is an open event. Please direct all questions and RSVPs to  All questions for panelists and during the event can be directed via Twitter to @newdominionproj. This event will be streamed live online via UStream (video and audio).  More information is available at




The panel will discuss a new NDP Strategy Paper titled “The Engine for the Future: Taking Higher Ed to the Next Level in Virginia” that recommends five “Principles for Reform”:


  • Principle #1: Core Curricula:  STEM, Liberal Arts, Civic Education, Entrepreneurship
    • These comprehensive curricular strategies will equip students to be strong, self-reliant, engaged citizens for the future.
  • Principle #2: Increase Central Skills
    • Jobs won’t only be created in high-tech industry such as biotech; industries such as infrastructure and manufacturing require training in these core skills. 
  • Principle #3:  Innovate Education
    • We need to move beyond formal credit-hour requirements toward more useful skills and co-locate business incubators with community colleges and public colleges and universities. 
  • Principle #4:  Strengthen Public Education
    • Government is the essential player in public education and we must protect public funding, fight for our fair share of federal research dollars, and fight unfair tuition increases.
  • Principle #5:  Enhance Regional Cooperation
    • We need to further connect the “Urban Crescent” and rural areas with a new “Sister Cities” approach, increase research partnerships, and finally create Southside University.




Mike Signer (moderator):  Mike is an attorney, small businessman, former counselor to Governor Mark Warner, and Virginia Tech adjunct professor.  He is Managing Principal of the Madison Law & Strategy Group, PLLC, in Arlington.  He is an expert on constitutionalism, authoring Demagogue (Palgrave Macmillan 2009) and articles in venues such as The Richmond Times-Dispatch, The New Republic, The Washington Post, and U.S. News & Daily Report.  A longtime activist on voting rights in Virginia, he traveled in Afghanistan in 2010 to monitor elections.  He holds a J.D. from the University of Virginia, a B.A. from Princeton University, and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley.  He was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor in 2009. 


Senator Barbara Favola. Sen. Favola took office in the Virginia Senate this Session and brings with her fourteen years of experience on the Arlington County Board, having chaired that body three times during her tenure. A noted school and child advocate, Sen. Favola supported the creation of teen lounges and fought for a permanent home for the Head Start program in Arlington County, while also expanding mental health services in public schools, among other endeavors. This year, the Senator has introduced legislation that would expand educational grants for students who begin higher education at community colleges and transfer to four-year schools in science, math, technology, nursing and teaching disciplines. Sen. Favola serves on the Senate Local Government Committee, Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee and the Transportation Committee.


Senator John Edwards. Sen. John Edwards of Roanoke currently sits on the Senate Commerce and Labor, Courts of Justice, and Privileges and Elections Committees. Sen. Edwards was the chief sponsor and patron of the Roanoke Higher Education Center, a center that has enhanced opportunities for college, graduate, and workforce training programs in Southwest Virginia. The education center, according to one study, has had a $32 million annual economic impact in that region. Senator John Edwards has served in the Virginia Senate for 16 years. He holds degrees from Princeton University and the University of Virginia Law School.


Dak Hardwick. Mr. Hardwick is an expert on national security, homeland security, and congressional and public affairs and a former Presidential Management Fellow, currently serves as the manager of international government relations for the Harris Corporation. Currently, Mr. Hardwick serves on the Alumni Board of Directors of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. He holds a B.S. in Public Affairs from Indiana University – Bloomington and a Master in Public Administration from West Virginia University.