Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine to Speak at U.Va.-Wise Commencement May 16

April 6, 2009 — Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will deliver the keynote address during May 16 Commencement exercises at the University of Virginia's College at Wise.

The public is invited to attend the ceremony, which begins at 11 a.m. at Carl Smith Stadium.

Kaine became Virginia's 70th governor on Jan. 14, 2006.

A strong supporter of education, he led efforts to secure a $1.6 billion bond package in 2008 to expand college access for Virginians and accelerate economic growth. The bond package, which received strong support from the Southwest Virginia legislative delegation, provided U.Va.-Wise with funds to build a $30 million Convocation Center and $600,000 for accessibility projects.

In public education, Kaine moved the classroom focus from competence to excellence, and he signed into law Virginia's first requirement for all teachers to receive regular and meaningful teacher evaluations. He expanded access to pre-kindergarten and to career and technical education.

During Kaine's tenure, Forbes.com has named Virginia the most business-friendly state in America for three consecutive years. Governing Magazine named Virginia the top-performing state government in America. In 2007, Education Week recognized the Commonwealth as the state where "a child is most likely to have a successful life."

His public service career began when he took a year off from law school to volunteer with missionaries in Honduras. While there he served as the principal of a small Catholic school that taught teenagers basic carpentry and welding skills.

He practiced law in Richmond for 17 years, representing people who had been denied housing opportunities because of their race or disability. He taught legal ethics for six years at the University of Richmond Law School.

He served four terms on the Richmond City Council, including two terms as mayor, where he worked to build Richmond's first new schools in a generation, cut taxes and slash the city's crime rate.

In 2001, he was elected Virginia's lieutenant governor. He worked for four years with Gov. Mark Warner to reform the state's budget and invest new resources in education.

He was recently tapped as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He also chairs the Southern Governors Association, where he is focused on addressing climate change, and the executive council of the EPA's Chesapeake Bay program.

Kaine grew up in Kansas City working in his father's ironworking shop.  He attended the University of Missouri and Harvard Law School.

He is married to Anne Holton, a former legal aid lawyer and juvenile court judge. Her father, Linwood Holton, a Big Stone Gap native, was governor of Virginia from 1970 to 1974.

For information about Commencement 2009, contact the Office of College Relations at 276-328-0130 or visit www.U.Va.wise.edu/commencement.