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Candidates offer views in FS forum

By John Ashby

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 08 - October 12, 1995

To the surprise of no one who has observed political candidates running for office in this area, four candidates for state office pledged their support of higher education, Cooperative Extension, and the university at a candidates' forum held last week by the Faculty Senate.

Incumbents Madison Marye and Jim Shuler, seeking re-election to the state Senate and House of Delegates, described their efforts to restore funding for Extension and the university during last winter's legislative session.

Republican challengers Pat Cupp and Larry Linkous charged that the Democratic legislators had not done enough to represent the area, and vowed not to be tied to Gov. George Allen's policies.

Marye said southwest Virginia had been targeted for cuts in education funding, and said Extension had "become a political football." He described the university as a proven economic-development tool for agriculture and agri-business. In a prepared statement, Marye said, "I will continue to maintain Tech's state-wide role through my work in the General Assembly. If Tech's state-wide presence erodes, soon the base in Blacksburg will, too."

Cupp said the university's role is vital "through Extension and the Engineering college." In his prepared statement, Cupp said, "The role of higher education in this state, as in any other, possesses many dimensions. The primary one is naturally the education and enlightenment of the next generation and we must make sure that we never lose sight of that essential role. To that end we commit the resources we have available to ensure that quality, availability and affordability do not decrease any further."

Shuler said that "the real wealth of the commonwealth has to be ideas." Tax cuts, Shuler said, would be at the expense of education, and education, rather than prison building, should be the state's highest priority. Shuler said the state's system of higher education is recognized world-wide, "but what has taken a century to build could be lost in this decade." Shuler said that despite the good economic health of the state, "higher education is at risk."

House candidate Larry Linkous stressed his strong connections with education in the area, and his ties with the university. In his prepared statement, he described the role of higher education in Virginia as "being one of providing the best possible education for our young men and women so they are prepared for their chosen field when they graduate. I also see the role of institutions of higher learning increasing in the areas of their outreach programs and in being incubators for creating funding to carry out that mission." Linkous said he would join other Republicans who had voted against Allen if it meant supporting Virginia Tech and the district.