This Tuesday, Marymount University hosted Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Rogstad Guidera and Deputy Secretary of Education Sarah Huang Spota for an on-campus meeting and tour aiming to foster collaboration and strengthen involvement between the institution and the Commonwealth’s strategic educational priorities.
Meeting with Marymount University President Irma Becerra and her Cabinet members, Secretary Guidera explored a variety of opportunities in different areas that included the establishment of K-12 lab schools, the creation of a nursing think tank to address the shortage of nurses in Virginia, mental health support for students and maximizing funding and resources for both the state’s HBCUs and its lone Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) in Marymount. She then toured the University’s Main Campus as well as its Ballston Center, gaining a first-hand view at what the institution has to offer to its students and the community as a whole.
“We were honored to welcome Secretary Guidera and Deputy Secretary Spota and display our beautiful campus and facilities, while also having deep and analytical discussions about the important issues and challenges facing Virginia higher education institutions and the workforce,” President Becerra said. “The negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted us all, but they’ve also created opportunities for colleges and universities to use our expertise to build a better society moving forward.”
“The competitive advantage of Virginia is our people, and we need to make sure that we are investing in our people and preparing them for success and for the changing world of work,” Secretary Guidera added. “Each time I’ve met with President Becerra, I’ve admired her focus on thinking creatively through innovation and problem-solving. For all of the skills, knowledge and competencies that the Commonwealth requires to maintain its competitiveness and build a vibrant economy and community, Marymount is answering the call and producing the talent that we need.”
Since taking office, the Youngkin administration has emphasized the importance of establishing K-12 lab schools to spur innovation in the state’s educational system. The idea involves partnerships between K-12 schools, colleges and universities and private companies. With specific focuses on STEM, literacy and particular skills or industries, they seek to create learning environments that engage students in hands-on learning.
In their meeting with Secretary Guidera, Marymount administrators pitched their ideas for two unique lab schools – one for early childhood education, and another for hospitality. These efforts would expand on the University’s current plans to set up a new childcare center on campus – the Marymount Early Learning Academy is estimated to open in 2023 – and its new MBA track in Hospitality & Innovation that is debuting for the Fall 2022 semester.
“It’s a priority of Governor Youngkin to ensure that we’re building stronger connection points between our higher education institutions and our K-12 system, and it’s incredibly exciting to see how Marymount is focusing its energies on playing a leading role in these plans,” Secretary Guidera said. “We need to make Virginia the greatest place to learn, and Marymount is a crucial part of that. The sky is the limit for what we can accomplish together.”
Marymount administrators and Secretary Guidera also closely analyzed how the University’s market-driven academic programs in fields like Information Technology, Cybersecurity and Nursing are of incredible importance to the workforce needs around the Commonwealth. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported about 18 percent of Virginia hospitals were deemed “critically understaffed.” The causes of this shortage, from pandemic-related factors to the aging Baby Boomer generation, would inspire a Marymount-led think tank tasked with striving for solutions to this major societal problem.
“Marymount is known across Virginia and beyond for the acclaimed reputation of our Nursing programs, and our B.S.N. was most recently ranked at the top for all private colleges and universities in the Commonwealth,” President Becerra explained. “Our faculty and students in the Malek School of Nursing Professions are renowned for their skills and compassion, and with their expertise we can help solve this crisis and build confidence in the Commonwealth’s frontline health care resources.”