“Bienvenido FBI to Springfield, Virginia!” I hope to make this statement in the near future after the General Services Administration and FBI have finalized their selection for the location of the bureau’s new suburban headquarters. As president of Marymount University, the first and only four-year Hispanic-Serving Institution in Virginia, I had the honor of joining the Virginia delegation in presenting the case for Springfield as the clear winner – as we firmly believe it is the leading site across all five criteria being considered for the new headquarters. Northern Virginia’s higher education institutions are already educating the next generation of highly skilled and capable professionals that the FBI needs, and its graduates help transform the workforce into one that really reflects America today. Here at Marymount, we are ready to welcome the bureau to the commonwealth and become close neighbors.
Moving to a new home is exciting and challenging at the same time. Virginia has submitted a comprehensive and compelling proposal for this transformational move, as the Springfield site presents the government with a solid location that performs strongly across all criteria. Of all the potential sites, it’s the closest to FBI Quantico and other critical intelligence sites. It has more public transportation options than any other site under consideration, as well as superior site development flexibility. Also, selecting Springfield would signal support for promoting equity within underserved communities. Our Virginia elected officials couldn’t have said it any better: “Springfield is a home run in every category.”
Northern Virginia is home to the highest concentration of tech talent in the country, and its workers are more than qualified to fulfill the bureau’s needs. Much of this is thanks to an education system that sets our students up for success in their careers. For example, Marymount’s students can pursue bachelor’s degrees in high-demand areas such as cybersecurity, information technology, criminal justice, computer science, engineering and more. At the graduate level, they can choose from innovative fields that include forensic and legal psychology, business intelligence and emerging technology, just to name a few. Plus, countless Marymount faculty members and alumni are current or former FBI agents who serve as mentors to our students.
The FBI has identified the importance of growing a workforce that better reflects America. According to its chief diversity officer, “our intentional efforts to diversify are crucial to creating an inclusive workforce and keeping the American public safe through effective and efficient investigation.” When I walk across Marymount’s campus, I see the richness of our diversity. We are nationally ranked at No. 23 for Campus Ethnic Diversity and No. 20 for Schools with the Most International Students by U.S. News & World Report. Twenty-five percent of our student body is Hispanic, and 17 percent is Black. Additionally, our students are linguistically diverse and speak languages that are critical to FBI work, such as Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, Korean, Amharic and Mandarin. Our students have the cultural sensitivity and awareness needed for creating inclusive work environments.
At Marymount, we are committed to providing our students a pathway to real-world experience through connections to local companies and organizations that lead to dynamic opportunities before they even enter the workforce. For instance, our technology and innovation programs offer Marymount students experiential learning and internship opportunities with both domestic and international businesses and government entities. What’s more, our area has nearly 50,000 individuals who already have achieved some level of professional security clearance.
Finally, the FBI’s new headquarters should be located in a region that values service. Serving others is a core value at Marymount, with our roughly 4,000 students giving back to the community through an estimated 16,000 combined hours of service each year. Serving our country represents the highest level of that value.
Moving to Virginia from Florida when I became the president of Marymount in 2018 was one of the best decisions I ever made. I truly hope the FBI follows my example.
Read the original column on the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s website.