NOVA held a ceremony renaming the Student Services Building on the Annandale Campus the Mark R. Warner Student Services Building in honor of the Virginia Senator who was instrumental in acquiring critical capital funding for Virginia’s community colleges during his time as Governor of Virginia (2002-2006).
The ceremony was attended by an array of guests, including Hon. Belle Wheelan, president, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and former president of NOVA; Hon. Charles J. Colgan, former president pro tempore of the Senate of Virginia and Sen. Mark Warner and his family.
NOVA President, Dr. Scott Ralls said this week he was on Capitol Hill with George Mason University President Angél Cabrera. They ran into a staffer who said that, because of the opportunities available at NOVA, it is not a question of whether she will be the first in her family to graduate from college, but it is only a question of from which four-year school she will graduate.
“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. Belle Wheelan spoke from an insider’s perspective. Wheelan was Virginia Secretary of Education for then-Governor Warner. She said that Warner was the first in his family to graduate from college. He was an honor scholar. He lived in his car at times, determined to make a better life for himself.
“Many words can be used to describe Mark Warner,” she said. “Scholar, politician, businessman, leader. But the best word is Friend.”
In Sept. 2002, Warner chose NOVA-Annandale as the site to begin the campaign for the first higher education bond in a decade. More than a dozen business organizations from across the state endorsed the bond including the Northern Virginia Technology Council. Over the ensuing months, Warner continued to personally and tirelessly work to secure support and ultimately passage for $846 million in capital funding to maintain quality facilities and accommodate enrollment growth. But this was only the start; higher education would remain a funding priority for Warner throughout several, challenging budget seasons.
In Dec. 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.
In appreciation of Warner’s advocacy and support, NOVA’s College Board approved the following resolution:
The Northern Virginia Community College Board, in recognition of the Honorable Mark Warner’s personal leadership and tireless dedication to significantly expand investments in Virginia Community College facilities statewide while serving as Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, does hereby approve the naming of the CA Building at Northern Virginia Community College’s Annandale Campus in his honor. Henceforth, the facility will officially be known as the Mark Warner Student Services Building.
Warner reminisced about the importance of 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.”
Mark R. Warner was elected to the U.S. Senate in Nov. 2008 and reelected in Nov. 2014. He serves on the Senate Finance, Banking, Budget, and Intelligence committees. During his time in the Senate, he has worked with Republicans and Democrats to cut red tape, increase government performance and accountability, and promote private sector innovation and job creation. He has fought for military men and women and veterans, and worked to find bipartisan, balanced solutions to address the country's debt and deficit. Previously, he served as Governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006. When he left office in 2006, Virginia was ranked as the best state for business, the best managed state, and the best state in which to receive a public education.