Economy focus of forum at BC

Troubling economic times and what they mean to Americans is the focus of a summit and public forum Sept. 20 in Cole Hall at Bridgewater College.

“An Uncertain Economy: What it Means for the Country, Colleges and You” begins at 7 p.m. and features noted educators and economists presenting their views on employment, inflation, taxes, the national debt, the future of higher education and more. The forum encourages audience participation in the form of questions.

“Living in a tough economy is making itself felt in every facet of Americans’ lives,” said George Cornelius, president of Bridgewater College. “If we are to thrive under these new economic conditions, it is essential we explore where we’re headed and how best to meet the new challenges we face and seize the new opportunities presented.”

Cornelius said the summit and public forum will delve into the country’s economic future and, in particular, will address the impact of the economy on families and colleges and universities. Issues to be examined include the impact on family income and wealth; projected inflation rates; the impact of national, state and local governmental debt and unfunded future obligations; the impact of high household debt and lower home equity values; and access and affordability concerns surrounding higher education.

Other topics open for discussion at the summit include:

  • How can individuals, families and institutions best navigate these uncertain economic times?
  • What challenges does the new economy present?
  • What is the risk of a double-dip recession?
  • When will robust economic growth resume and full employment be restored?
  • What new opportunities might be presented by the current economic climate?
  • What is the impact on higher education from these new economic realities?

Cornelius said the summit also seeks to provide higher-education strategic planners with a reliable framework for moving forward in a time of economic uncertainty.

The summit’s panelists are David W. Breneman, the Newton and Rita Meyers Professor in Economics of Education at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education; J. Alfred Broaddus Jr., a former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and current member of the Economic Advisory Panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Christine Chmura, president and chief economist for Chmura Economics & Analytics; and Dennis Gephardt, vice president of higher ed/not-for-profit ratings at Moody’s Investors Service.

Each panelist will present a statement summarizing his or her views on the economy and how it will have an impact on higher education in general and private colleges in particular. The panelists will then take questions from the audience.

The summit’s moderator is George Pace, a business consultant and former president and chief executive officer of Rocco Inc.

Bridgewater College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state’s first private, coeducational college. Today, Bridgewater College is home to approximately 1,700 undergraduate students.

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