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Sen. Mark Warner visits campus, tells students to not fear failure

March 26, 2014 : By Drew Menard/Liberty University News Service

Sen. Mark Warner speaks at Liberty University Convocation.

Senior U.S. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia visited the campus of Liberty University Wednesday, March 26, and took the opportunity to speak to about 10,000 of Liberty’s residential students in Convocation. He inspired them to pursue their dreams with tenacity and not be deterred by failure.

Earlier in the day Warner gave a legislative update, hosted by Liberty and the Lynchburg (Va.) Regional Chamber of Commerce, in the university’s new $50 million Jerry Falwell Library.

As he spoke to Liberty students, Warner praised them for their energy and faith, saying Washington could use more of that and that he hopes to bring that spirit with him back to the capital.

He also praised the new Jerry Falwell Library, calling it “as world class as anything I have ever seen in Virginia or anywhere in the nation.”

Warner was introduced at Convocation by President Jerry Falwell, Jr., who shared highlights of the senator’s career.

Before transitioning into politics, Warner was a successful businessman for many years. He was an early investor in cellphone technology and co-founded Nextel. Warner served as Governor of Virginia from 2002-06 and was elected to the Senate in 2008.

Warner told students that “not everyone lives a straight line of success … one of the most important lessons you can learn … is to try and fail.” As an example, Warner shared his own story of attempting to start businesses as a recent law school graduate and ultimately failing several times before he gained success.

He explained that one of the advantages of living in “the greatest country in the world” is that despite its challenges, one can succeed in the wake of failure because there are so many opportunities.

“In America, it is not about where you started, it is not even about how you get there, but it is the fact that in America you can fail, and there is nothing wrong with it,” Warner said. “That is the antithesis of what we are taught … that we are only measured by our success. I think a human being is not only measured by his or her success but by how they deal with failure, how they deal with adversity.”

Warner also talked about the need to work together to achieve success — in spite of differences. We must recognize that there are “powers greater than any of us individually,” he said.

Warner gives a legislative update in the Jerry Falwell Library.
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner gave a legislative update in the Caudell Reading Room of the Jerry Falwell Library on March 26, 2014.

Earlier in the day, Warner gave a 30-minute legislative update to community leaders on the work he is doing in Washington in the library’s Caudell Reading Room.

Before the event, Christine Kennedy, the Chamber of Commerce’s executive vice president, shared the significance of meeting on Liberty’s campus in light of the chamber’s strategy for economic development, which includes economic vitality and a solid business model.

“In considering an economic driver in this community, we couldn’t think of a better place to be than Liberty University,” Kennedy said, noting that the university is adding more than 7,000 jobs to the community and is in the midst of a $500 million campus rebuilding. She pointed out that during this phase Liberty’s cash reserves will not drop below $1.2 billion.

Kennedy also said that Liberty students, faculty, and staff volunteer more than 750,000 hours of service every year.

She and Warner both celebrated Liberty’s online education program, which is one of the nation’s largest and has revolutionized higher education by making it more accessible and affordable.

Warner shared updates on several political issues, including foreign policy and what is happening in the Ukraine, education and student debt, the challenges of the Affordable Care Act, and fiscal responsibility.

While visiting campus, Warner repeatedly said that he wishes the U.S. government would follow a business model similar to Liberty, where the books are balanced and the budget is managed responsibly.

Warner speaks in the Caudell Reading Room at the Jerry Falwell Library.