Lexington, Virginia • February 6, 2009
Washington and Lee alumnus John W. Warner, former U.S. senator from Virginia, received the 16th annual Award for Advocacy of Independent Higher Education from the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), during the organization’s annual meeting in Washington on Feb. 3.
W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio introduced Warner during the award luncheon.
Warner, who graduated from W&L in 1949 after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, was hailed as a “statesman and a visionary” by NAICU.
In his remarks, Ruscio cited Warner’s recent work to include the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program in the post-9/11 GI Bill. Under that provision, private colleges and universities agree with the Department of Veterans Affairs to waive up to half the cost of tuition and fees charged above the most costly state-supported institution.
Said Ruscio: “What is remarkable to me is how this piece of legislation so perfectly brings together the formative experiences of Senator Warner, the convergence of his devotion to the men and women who have served our country and his dedication to higher education . . . a fitting, meaningful, nearly poetic capstone to a legislative career of great breadth and accomplishment in the name of the common good.”
The NAICU noted that Warner had chosen to attend a private university for his undergraduate education and a public institution, the University of Virginia, for his graduate law degree, and that his personal history had influenced his work on the Yellow Ribbon initiative.
The NAICU proclamation reads: “The program is an innovative and groundbreaking way to challenge our nation’s private colleges to open their doors to today’s veterans—and does it with principles and provisions that recognize their independence and special missions. First and foremost, the Yellow Ribbon program is voluntary, based on incentives. Second, it carries no mandates in areas more properly the domain of colleges—such as academic standards, operations or admissions criteria. Finally, it recognizes the inherent price structure of private colleges, operating with little if any state support.
“It is this visionary approach to a legislated program that we particularly salute with this award: a model that recognizes the value and importance of our independence, as well as the essential public purpose we serve. The Yellow Ribbon program stands as a hopeful model for future partnerships with the federal government, and we deeply appreciate the respect for private higher education that is inherent in the program’s design.”
Previous winners of the NAICU Advocacy Award include numerous members of Congress. The NAICU established the award to recognize individuals outside of academe who have championed independent higher education. It recognizes a lifetime of service, initiative and determination..
Warner retired from the Senate in January after having served five terms.