Former Congressmen Capuano and Goodlatte Receive 2019 Award for Advocacy for Independent Higher Ed

February 06, 2019

  NAICU President David L. Warren, Ph.D., (left) presents 2019 Advocacy Award  to former Reps. Robert K. Goodlatte (R-VA) and Michael E. Capuano (D-MA) (center) with University of Lynchburg (VA) President Kenneth R. Garren, Ph.D. and AICUM President Richard J. Doherty (left).
WASHINGTON, DC -- The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) has presented former Congressmen Michael E. Capuano (D-MA) and Robert W. Goodlatte (R-VA), founding co-chairs of the Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus, with the Association’s 2019 Award for Advocacy for Independent Higher Education.

The NAICU Advocacy Award was established to recognize individuals outside of academe who have championed the cause of independent higher education. Whether in government, business, or philanthropy, the winner of this award has provided leadership, established resources, or enacted policy at the state or national level that recognized the role of independent colleges and universities in serving public purposes.

“Mike Capuano and Bob Goodlatte have long understood the important role private, nonprofit colleges and universities play in preparing students for a lifetime of success,”  NAICU President David L. Warren, Ph.D.  “Their support as members of the House of Representatives to increase federal student aid spending to help students and families has been immeasurable.  Leading the effort to establish the Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus has gone a long way to help educate Members of Congress about the challenges and opportunities facing private colleges.”

Launched in February 2017, the Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus offers Members of Congress an opportunity to both celebrate and advance the diversity of the nation’s private, nonprofit colleges and universities, and learn about the challenges and issues these institutions face. The Caucus serves as an informal group of members dedicated to addressing the issues related to private, nonprofit colleges and the students they serve, while educating other members on the issues facing independent colleges and universities. Establishing the Congressional Caucus fulfilled a longtime NAICU organizational goal.

Representatives Goodlatte and Capuano first joined forces in higher education policy to express bipartisan concern about a proposal from the Obama Administration to rate each college in the nation with a letter grade indicating their performance based upon a set of federally prescribed metrics. From those initial conversations, they discovered Goodlatte’s rural Virginia district and Capuano’s urban Massachusetts district had a common asset—a disproportionately high number of colleges whose contributions to the educational, cultural and economic life of their local communities were absolutely essential. Their efforts contributed to a marked change of course by the Department of Education and students were spared the confusion of a letter grade rating for colleges and universities.

Capuano retired from Congress in December 2018, after serving ten terms as a member of Congress representing Massachusetts’ Seventh Congressional District, which includes most of Boston. He was a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Committee on Financial Services. Prior to serving in Congress, Capuano was the Mayor of Somerville, MA (January 1990–99). He earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College (NH) and a law degree from Boston College Law School. Capuano’s humor and down to earth demeanor helped earn him a distinguished reputation as a commonsense policymaker who has the ability to work across party lines to accomplish his goals.

Massachusetts’ Seventh Congressional District is home to 21 private, nonprofit colleges and universities, enrolling nearly 68,000 undergraduate students and more than 50,000 graduate students, and employing 37,500 people. Statewide, there are 76 four-year private, nonprofit colleges and universities enrolling 283,000 students and employing 110,000 faculty and staff. Massachusetts is the only state in the country that educates more students at private independent colleges than at public colleges.

Goodlatte retired from Congress in December 2018, after serving 13 terms as a member of the House of Representatives from Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District, which includes Roanoke, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, and Staunton. He served as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee from 2013–2018, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee from 2003–2007, and served on the House Education Committee for a number of years. Goodlatte is a graduate of Bates College (ME) and the Washington and Lee University School of Law (VA). Despite high turnover rates on Capitol Hill, Goodlatte’s office was well known for its deep comradery among staff, a reflection on his own personal leadership strengths. His reputation as a thoughtful policymaker paved the way for many working, bipartisan relationships, in addition to various positions of leadership within the Republican caucus.

Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District is the home to 12 private, nonprofit colleges and universities, enrolling more than 50,000 undergraduate students, and directly employing nearly 11,500 people. Statewide, there are 28 private colleges enrolling 130,000 students and employing 32,500 people.

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