Governor Terry McAuliffe opened the doors of the Executive Mansion last week to a group of college reporters for a luncheon to discuss the state of the Commonwealth and higher education.
The Highland Cavalier was one of the student newspapers invited for the discussion, which included students from The University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, George Mason University and other state schools. Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent joined McAuliffe. Guinness, the governor’s dog, ran happily around the room as guests joined.
Before the lunch, attendees browsed the various pieces of art and history in the Governor’s Mansion, the home of every Virginia governor since 1780. McAuliffe discussed the history of the mansion, including original paintings of George Washington, while greeting everyone.
The luncheon’s topics included the recent immigration ban and recidivism. The governor spoke candidly of his recent firsthand involvement in tackling the immigration ban at Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, saying that if students and young people are outraged by what they see happening, they have to get out and get involved in government.
“I was very distressed that 90 million Americans didn’t vote,” McAuliffe said. “I’ve never missed an election since I was 18. Young people have got to really get involved with these issues.”
Besides the importance of civic duty, the main topic of conversation for the lunch was Virginia’s economy and the growth of the cyber industry. McAuliffe recounted the achievements of Virginia’s growing economy, which includes $14.4 billion in capital investment to date. The increasing number of jobs created throughout Virginia in the cyber industry has actually led to a shortage in trained professionals to fill these jobs, McAuliffe explained.
“It’s very easy to find a job,” McAuliffe stated, concerning the current job market in Virginia. “But it has to be something tech-related.”
The governor explained that last year the Commonwealth alone was the victim of 70 million cyberattacks, not including businesses and individuals in Virginia, highlighting the demand for technology-based degrees as a solution to many economic troubles.
To fill this job need, Governor McAuliffe expressed his desire in working with colleges, universities, and other centers of higher education across the state to train people with the degrees and skills needed to fill these roles.
UVa-Wise has taken advantage of this cyber trend, offering the only undergraduate degree in software engineering in Virginia. Last summer the college also announced the establishment of a new cyber security accelerator in St. Paul, Virginia at the Oxbow Center, in an effort to attract new tech-businesses to the area.
While cyber and tech jobs were high on McAuliffe’s luncheon agenda, towards the end of the lunch he offered a philosophic view of his job.
“Taking my governor hat off, it’s important to do what you love,” McAuliffe said. “No matter what it is.”