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President Obama signs historic bill at NOVA

On Tuesday, March 30, President Barack Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 at NOVA’s Alexandria Campus in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

Dr. Jill Biden, Associate Professor of English (AL), introduced the president.

“The president has set an ambitious goal for higher education in this country. By 2020, we want America once again to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. To make this happen, we’ll need to invest in these students and invest in the colleges that they will attend,” Dr. Biden said. “I’m proud to be here as a community college instructor, and I am especially proud and honored to introduce a president who is making higher education a reality for millions more Americans.”

President Obama thanked President Robert G. Templin Jr. and the entire NOVA family for hosting the ceremony.

“Today, we mark an important milestone on the road to health and insurance reform and higher education reform,” Obama said. “With the bill I signed last week, we finally undertook meaningful reform of our health care system. With this bill, and other steps we’ve pursued over the last year, we are finally undertaking meaningful reform in our higher education system. So this week we can rightly say the foundation on which America’s future will be built is stronger than it was one year ago.”

In addition to lowering health care costs for American families and small businesses, the act raises the maximum Pell Grant, makes loan payments more affordable for students with unmanageable debt, and increases investments in community colleges, Historically Black Colleges, Hispanic Serving Institutions and other Minority Serving Institutions.

During his speech, Obama announced that he has asked Dr. Biden to host a summit on community colleges at the White House this fall.

“We’re going to bring everybody together to share innovative ideas about how we can help students earn degrees and credentials, and to forge private sector partnerships so we can better prepare America’s workforce and America’s workers to succeed in the 21st century,” Obama said.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi were among the many dignitaries who attended the ceremony.

Special thanks to Dr. Jimmie McClellan (AL) for all his behind-the-scenes efforts with the White House advance teams.

You can watch the full signing ceremony at http://www.c-spanvideo.org//program/292787-1.

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.