Today University of Mary Washington students are going to Richmond to participate in Lobby Day to address the Virginia General Assembly about receiving funds for the university’s Dahlgren campus.
The effort is headed by the Legislative Action Committee (LAC), whose aim is get UMW the money it needs to move forward on the Dahlgren campus, located at the Dahlgren Naval Research Facility, according to LAC president William Spaulding.
The 27-acre Dahlgren site will be used for graduate and undergraduate programs in science, engineering, technology and mathematics and will foster increased job opportunities in the area.
The group of 10 or more students, who will be accompanied by President Rick Hurley and Chief of Staff Martin Wilder, have two goals.
“We want to establish a clear presence of students. We want our voices to be heard,” Spaulding said. “It’s also an experiential thing. We’ll be observing the legislature, and there’s an educational aspect.”
This is not the first time that members of the LAC have addressed the university’s financial needs with members of the General Assembly, but according to Spaulding much of the lobbying involves repetition.
“We want it really ingrained in their mind,” he said.
Though each presentation the students are making today will only be a few minutes long, they hope to make an impact by emphasizing the importance of funding higher education, to stand out among the other lobbyists that will be present.
“We have data that shows how important high education is,” Spaulding said.
So far, the university has spent $2 million in the initial stages of planning and intends to spend $20.6 million more on construction.
UMW is asking the General Assembly for $2 million in general funding for the facility’s maintenance and faculty, according to Spaulding.
Currently, Gov. Bob McDonnell’s budget recommendations include $1.25 million for the Dahlgren campus’ general funds, which will be sufficient to carry the project through to its scheduled operational date in 2012, Spaulding said.
The LAC intends to return to the General Assembly to lobby for further funding in 2013 as the Dahlgren project progresses.
“Without this money, the continued strain of these budget cuts will expose the University to detrimental reductions in the quality of education it can provide,” according to an LAC statement.
The process of lobbying for money began earlier this month when LAC leaders, including Spaulding, vice President Ben Yazman and Press Secretary Thomas Bowman, attended a public forum hosted by the Northern Virginia delegation of the General Assembly on Jan. 8.
At the forum, they asked the General Assembly to pass both McDonnell’s recommended funding and an additional $750,000 dollars for the Dahlgren campus, for a total of $2 million.