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Contact:  Kirsten Nelson
(804) 225-2627
For Immediate Release

July 31, 2007

Three Members Appointed to State Council of Higher Education

RICHMONDGovernor Tim Kaine recently announced three appointments to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), the 11-member coordinating body for Virginia’s system of higher education. In addition to appointing Gilbert T. Bland of Virginia Beach to serve the remainder of an unexpired term, Governor Kaine also reappointed Mimi M. Elrod of Lexington and Alan L. Wurtzel of Delaplane to serve a second term.

“We are pleased that Governor Kaine has selected such talented and committed individuals to offer their guidance on higher education issues in the Commonwealth,” says Daniel J. LaVista, executive director of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. “The contributions of our returning members have proven invaluable, and we will surely benefit from the expertise of Mr. Bland, our newest Council member.”

Gilbert Bland is Chairman of Tymark Enterprises, Inc. and Tabansi Pizza, and he has purchased or constructed over 65 restaurants in Virginia and elsewhere.  In addition to being a charter member of the Burger King Diversity Action Council, Mr. Bland has served on the Board of Directors for the Burger King National Franchise Association and the Southeast Pizza Hut franchise. In acknowledgement of his exemplary service, Burger King has endowed a $50,000 scholarship for African-American students in Mr. Bland’s name at James Madison University, his alma mater. Mr. Bland is actively involved in community service and has served on the Board of Directors at Sentara Hospital and the South Hampton Roads YMCA and The Greater Norfolk Corporation, among other organizations. Over the years, he has served on the Board of Visitors at Old Dominion University, as well as the Board of Trustees for the James Madison University Foundation and the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority.  Mr. Bland presently serves as Chairman of the NCP Community Development Federal Credit Union. Mr. Bland succeeds former Council member Jean Cunningham, whose unexpired term ends June 30, 2008.

Mimi Elrod is director of Washington and Lee University’s Summer Scholars program. She has been involved with Washington and Lee since 1984, when her late husband, President John W. Elrod, first joined the university as dean of the college and a professor of philosophy. Before coming to Lexington, she earned her Masters and Ph.D degrees at Iowa State University and then taught at the University for five years.  She taught at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College before joining the staff at Washington and Lee.  An educator, civil rights activist, and mental health advocate, Dr. Elrod has been a leader in domestic violence prevention, early childhood education, and other community organizations. In addition to serving as a member of the Lexington City Council, Dr. Elrod chaired the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board, Project Horizon's board, and the Rockbridge Mental Health Association. 

Alan Wurtzel is Chairman Emeritus of Circuit City Stores, Inc., a director of Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., and serves on the boards of five privately held companies. Long committed to education, Mr. Wurtzel served on the Virginia Board of Education during the critical years of 1992 to 1996 when the current Standards of Learning were adopted. He now serves on the Virginia P-16 Council and on the board of the National Center for Education and the Economy. Mr. Wurtzel was on the Board of Visitors at Virginia Commonwealth University from 1985 to 1992 and is currently a trustee of his alma mater, Oberlin College. Mr. Wurtzel was Chairman of the Higher Education Council and its Executive Committee during his earlier term.

SCHEV provides policy guidance and budget recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly, and is a resource for information on Virginia colleges and universities on higher education issues. The agency serves as a catalyst to promote greater access, quality, affordability and accountability throughout the system. SCHEV also helps policymakers, college administrators, and other concerned leaders work cooperatively and constructively to advance educational excellence in Virginia.

For more information, contact Kirsten Nelson, Director of Government Relations and Communications, at or (804) 225-2627.