MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU president Gordon Gee delivered a State of the University speech that expressed hope, concern about racial justice and the future of higher education Monday. Gee credited core values and work ethic of the Mountaineer community as top reasons why the university has performed reasonably well during the pandemic.
“Our faculty, staff and students have been honing a culture of change, they have cemented our reputation as a place of purpose,” Gee said,”Indeed it is that culture of purpose, responsibility and certainly curiosity that has allowed us to move through tis pandemic unwavering and sure.”
President Gee told the Faculty Senate that the pandemic unearthed the need for social change, as demonstrated by violent protests throughout the country and calls for equality within the students body.
“Protests nationwide gave another shock to our system this year,” Gee said,”As they have shown a spotlight on racial inequities and reaffirmed the need for true social justice. The pandemic also touched off financial aftershocks that have yet to be fully calculated and understood.”
Gee praised officials for developing protocols and an aggressive testing program to control the spread of the virus. According to Gee, the effectiveness of their return to campus plan was proven during the Labor Day spike in cases, shutdown and return to the classroom. Gee noted the number of cases, students In isolation or quarantine have continued to drop.
Gee is convinced the future is bright the university. He cited the Virgin Hyperloop project, Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative funded by a $25-million-dollar gift from Intuit executive Brad Smith and his wife, Alys and the record breaking $195 million in external funding for research as examples.
“This will be a revolutionary advancement in transportation for our state and our world,” Gee said,”Add this forward thinking Hyperloop project embedded in West Virginia, it will make an immense difference to both our economy and to our psyche.”
Moving the university forward on all fronts, including diversity and inclusion is the goal for Gee. Plans are ready to create a Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit to assist faculty in understanding issues of diversity and inclusivity, along with a guide of resources and best practices for faculty instruction related to diversity topics. He says the university will invest in these efforts.
“We have a responsibility to ensure our campus community reflects the very best of us,” Gee said,”We must commit to creating a culture free of racism, bias and social injustice.”
Part of that commitment is to implement a strategic recruitment plan for Black students and exploring partnerships with schools to create a pathway to the University.
Gee wants to enhance law enforcement transparency by creating the a WVU Public Safety Committee.
“The WVU Public Safety Committee to provide transparency, vision, guidance and oversight of the delivery of public safety services to the university,”Gee said,” It will also accelerate the level and frequency of training for WVU police and Office of Emergency Management.”