Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell addressed a crowd of about 100 at George Mason University's Mason Hall Thursday, to say that higher education is tied directly to job creation - and that the state will soon be reinvesting more money to continue that.
As GMU President Angel Cabrera introduced the governor, he announced that, in just 11 days, the university will welcome the largest freshman class in the institution's history.
He also announced that, according to data recently released, GMU alumni earn, on average, the highest wages post-graduation than any other public university in the state.
As Gov. McDonnell addressed the room, he said he couldn't take all the credit for positive reports such as those - that college presidents throughout Virginia are "heeding the call" and doing their part to make college more accessible for the state's young people, and to raise tuitions by as little as possible.
He said, in the past three years, his administration has invested $400 million "in new money," over and above the budget, into higher education - but he asked schools to make sure they are investing it in the wisest places, such as by increasing the number of slots open to new students at their schools, and investing money in areas that are really driving growth in Virginia, such as STEM and technology.
He said areas such as those will continue to be among his priorities as he enters the final four months of his term as governor, and that he knows "people have been lobbying the two major candidates" for his replacement relentlessly to make sure the next governor continues to do so.
"I still have about 144 days left - there's still a lot of things I want to do," he said.
"That whole one-term-governor thing is really messing me up," he said with a laugh.
However, one announcement he made at the end of his talk, he made without laughing - and that was to say that, on Monday, he will be announcing a "huge surplus" in savings for the Commonwealth of Virginia, which will be "even bigger" than the $263 million he recently announced in revenue surplus.
"That money will be reinvested in things like transportation, water quality, and 'rainy day' funds," he said, but will also be reinvested in higher education to help take the pressure off of public colleges and universities like GMU to "keep tuitions down."
See a short video of some of the highlights of McDonnell's talk above.