Tim Kaine and Higher Ed

Hillary Clinton's running mate has promoted career and technical education, worried about the impact of student debt, and taught for many years at the University of Richmond.

July 25, 2016
Senator Tim Kaine

Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, named by Hillary Clinton as her running mate, is a moderate Democrat who has been supportive of spending on higher education both in the Senate and as governor of Virginia.

The focus of his time in the Senate has not been on education issues, but he has periodically been involved in them.

Technical education. In 2014, he was a cofounder of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus, and he has been involved in events designed to draw attention to the value of technical education at the secondary and postsecondary levels. His interest in technical education is longstanding. Kaine took a year off while at law school at Harvard University to run a technical school founded by Jesuit missionaries in Honduras. More recently in Congress, he has pushed support for apprenticeship programs.

Student debt. Kaine has spoken out at several events this year about the impact of rising debt levels on students. In The Huffington Post, he said that "student debt is placing a massive burden on our college students and graduates." But asked about the plan of Senator Bernie Sanders to make public higher education free, Kaine said he was concerned by the lack of an income test. (Subsequently, Clinton adopted many parts of the Sanders plan, but she kept her earlier stated idea of an income test.) "We need to give careful consideration, particularly on the fiscal front, to whether there should be some type of income test with respect to free access to college," Kaine said. "Richer Americans, or even Americans like myself who have a plan to help their children with the cost of college, perhaps shouldn’t have free access to college or get the same degree of help when there are so many young people who have worked hard but simply can’t afford the cost of higher education and their parents do not have the financial means to help. Those are the students who we should focus on helping."

Virginia Tech aftermath. In 2008, as governor of Virginia, Kaine signed into law a series of bills introduced in response to the previous year's mass murder at Virginia Tech. Among the measures were requirements that public colleges establish threat assessment teams and emergency plans, that public and private colleges be allowed to request complete mental health records held on its students from their time at previous institutions, that public colleges establish procedures to release educational records to the parents of dependent students, and that public colleges establish procedures for notifying parents of students who receive mental health treatment at the institution's student health or counseling center "when there exists a substantial likelihood that the student will, in the near future, cause serious physical harm to himself or others as evidenced by recent behavior or any other relevant information or suffer serious harm due to his lack of capacity to protect himself or to provide for his basic human needs."

In the Senate, Kaine has cited the experience of being governor of Virginia at the time of the Virginia Tech shootings in pushing for gun control measures -- measures that have been blocked by Republicans. Kaine speeches on the topic may be found here and here.

Also as governor, Kaine successfully pushed for a $2 billion bond package for facilities at public colleges and universities.

Kaine has periodically taught at the University of Richmond. He first started teaching there -- part time, in the law school -- in 1987. He left that position when he was elected to public office six years later. But he has continued to teach periodically in the law school and Richmond's Jepson School of Leadership Studies. He last taught a course there in 2013 and also regularly participates in events there.

Kaine's wife, Anne Holton, is Virginia's secretary of education. Prior to assuming that position, she was the program director for Great Expectations, a program of the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education that helps youth in foster care gain access to higher education.


Back to Top