I appreciate your Dec 27 editorial, “What should Virginia name after Baliles?” and want you to know that you are not alone in asking that question. I have been, and remain, involved in conversations regarding recommendations to honor the former governor’s lifelong commitment to education.
Though I did not live in Virginia during Gerald Baliles’ gubernatorial term, his influence and passion have benefited our students throughout my tenure at Virginia’s Community Colleges. His insistence that higher education be the equalizer for rural Virginians, and that opportunity be readily available for every region of the state was a difference-maker during his time as a board member and chair of our statewide foundation, which continues to raise money for that priority today.
I have worked with many governors over the course of my career, and each of them would love to be considered the education governor. However, few could compete with the record Baliles established and none could surpass him. Soon, I expect to see Baliles’ steadfast dedication to the transformative power of education – as your editorial put it – “Immortalize[d] in bronze, granite or any other kind of material,” in a part of the Virginia that was closest to his heart. That’s fitting, I believe, for someone I have long considered both a personal friend and an advocate of the community college mission.
Chancellor, Virginia's community colleges