VCU Inauguration 2011

Inaugural ceremony

Special guests »


Special guests

Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

Arne Duncan, confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Jan. 20, 2009, serves as secretary of education under the leadership of President Barack Obama.

In his confirmation hearings, Duncan emphasized the importance of preparing youth for success in life and the impact that preparation has on the health and well-being of the economy.

Prior to his appointment as secretary of education, Duncan served as the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools, a position to which he was appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley, from June 2001 through December 2008, becoming the longest-serving big-city education superintendent in the country.

As CEO, Duncan’s mandate was to raise education standards and performance, improve teacher and principal quality and increase learning options. In seven and a half years, he united education reformers, teachers, principals and business stakeholders behind an aggressive education reform agenda that included opening more than 100 new schools, expanding after-school and summer learning programs, closing down underperforming schools, increasing early childhood and college access, dramatically boosting the caliber of teachers and building public-private partnerships around a variety of education initiatives.

Prior to joining the Chicago Public Schools, Duncan ran the nonprofit education foundation Ariel Education Initiative (1992-98), which helped fund a college education for a class of inner-city children under the I Have A Dream program. He was part of a team that later started a new public elementary school built around a financial literacy curriculum, the Ariel Community Academy, which today ranks among the top elementary schools in Chicago.

Duncan formerly served on the boards of the Ariel Education Initiative, Chicago Cares, the Children’s Center, the Golden Apple Foundation, the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, Jobs for America’s Graduates, Junior Achievement, the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Kellogg School of Management, the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ Foundation, Renaissance Schools Fund, Scholarship Chicago and the South Side YMCA, among others.

In 2008, he was honored by the Civic Federation of Chicago and the Anti-Defamation League. In 2007, he received the Niagara Foundation’s Education Award, the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship Enterprising Educator Award and the University High School Distinguished Alumni Award. He also received honorary degrees from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Lake Forest College and National-Louis University. In 2006, the City Club of Chicago named him Citizen of the Year. He was a member of the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Fellowship Program, class of 2002, and a fellow in the Leadership Greater Chicago’s class of 1995.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell was sworn in as the 71st governor of the commonwealth of Virginia on Jan. 16, 2010. He received nearly 59 percent of the vote and the most votes of any candidate for governor in Virginia history. As Virginia’s chief executive, Gov. McDonnell inherited an unprecedented $4.2 billion budget deficit. He defeated a proposed $2 billion increase in the state income tax, kept existing car tax relief in place and brought Democrats and Republicans together to close the shortfall through spending reductions, and without a single tax increase. At the same time, Gov. McDonnell was successful in seeing 80 percent of his legislative proposals passed by Virginia’s General Assembly, which consists of a Republican House and Democratic Senate. Included in the governor’s proposals were major education reforms to bring more charter schools to the commonwealth and expand virtual learning programs, as well as a package of dramatic new incentives for job-creating businesses to encourage economic development and job creation in the state. Gov. McDonnell has focused extensive time on job creation, and as of May 2011, 71,500 new jobs have been added in Virginia, the third highest amount nationally.

Gov. McDonnell has dedicated his life to public service. He served 21 years in the U.S. Army, both active duty and reserve, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1997. Upon graduating from law school in 1989 he served as a Virginia Beach prosecutor. McDonnell was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1991 and served 14 years representing Virginia Beach. He was elected as the 44th attorney general of Virginia in 2005. As attorney general, he kept all seven of his campaign promises and successfully passed 92 of his 105 legislative proposals, with strong bipartisan support.

Gov. McDonnell was raised in Fairfax County, Va. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame (B.B.A.), Boston University (M.S.B.A.) and Regent University (J.D. and M.A.). He and his wife, Maureen, have been married for 35 years. They have five children, ages 20-30. Their oldest daughter, Jeanine, served in the U.S. Army, including a tour of duty in Baghdad in 2005-06.