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Virginia Union getting $2 million for an innovation center

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Virginia Union University is getting $2 million to support an innovation center at the school. The legislature Friday approved a budget amendment that Gov. Glenn Youngkin proposed for a one-time funding allotment.

It’s unclear what the innovation center will look like, VUU leaders said, other than it will train future workers, ensure they have the job skills they need and help build wealth for students of historically Black colleges and universities.

“We’re extremely appreciative the governor and his administration, as [did] the prior governor and administration, see the importance of Virginia Union University as a vital contributor to the direction strategically of the Commonwealth,” VUU president Hakim Lucas said.

The budget language instructs the State Council for Higher Education to transfer the funds to the city of Richmond to cover the costs of the innovation center.

It’s unclear if the money will be spent on a building, personnel, technology or all three.

Last month, VUU announced a partnership with Paragon Vehicle Takeoff and Landing, a company building helicopters that resemble drones powered by hybrid electric engines.

In April, the university announced it would join forces with Apple to launch the VUU Coding Academy, allowing students, employees and alumni to learn computer code.

The legislature addressed other budget amendments Friday that pertain to higher education:

  • The Senate killed a $1.6 million proposal for the L. Douglas Wilder School at Virginia Commonwealth University to research ways to increase opportunities for K-12 students, consistent with the governor’s recent report on education. The measure was defeated by a vote of 20-18.

The report, which was critical of current K-12 education efforts, would presuppose the outcome of the study, said Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond.

  • By a 20-19 vote, the Senate defeated an amendment to support programs on constitutionalism and democracy at the University of Virginia.
  • Both chambers approved an amendment to let UVA-Wise offer graduate programs.
  • Both chambers approved language that allows community colleges to create lab schools. In the Senate, it passed 20-19, with Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears breaking the tie.

Andrew Cain contributed to this report.

ekolenich@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6109

Twitter: @EricKolenich

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Eric Kolenich writes about higher education, health systems and more for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He joined the newspaper in 2009 and spent 11 years in the Sports section. (804) 649-6109

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