MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A video presentation to begin the annual state of the university address at West Virginia University may have set the tone for the president’s speech ahead.

It featured a WVU project on the sociological and economic needs of Weirton.

“Weirton, we’re very focused on. Obviously the southern part of the state we’re focused on. Certain areas of Charleston we’re focused on in terms of urban community building.   So, we’re trying to create these modules,” explained President Dr. E. Gordon Gee following his second annual address.

Gee spent a great deal of his presentation to faculty, guests and the media on the university’s outreach beyond Morgantown.

When first returning to WVU after his presidency in the 1980s, Gee set out to visit each corner of the state covering all 55 counties.  A second state tour took him through 44 counties.

He is off the heels of a weekend visit to the most recently announced campus for both WVU-Beckley and WVU Tech.

“I was just in Beckley on Saturday.  I don’t know how many people thanked us for coming to Beckley but more importantly said we represent the future of that community and that part of the world.  I think clearly the impact of the university at large is undeniable and unbelievable,” Gee commented.

In September WVU announced the land grant institution’s intent to move WVU Tech programs from Montgomery to Beckley.  That announcement was followed by outcry from the WVU Tech community that relocating the campus would economically devastate Montgomery.

But, Monday, Gee continued his avid support for the Board of Governor approved measure.

“This Beckley campus is a remarkable opportunity for us to open up the doors of the university to the hearts and minds of the people of that part of the state,” Gee maintained.  “Very often they have not had access as they would like and as we should’ve provided.  Now we have a front door to that.”

Gee reflected on campus construction noting the opening of the WVU Art Museum, new student housing projects, a student center on the Evansdale campus and a spring opening of a new Agricultural Sciences Building.

Academically, according to the president, WVU will recruit top researchers and faculty who will be committed to the college.

And, regarding students, Gee said his loftiest goal would be to reach a 90% retention rate.

“I want to have that happen in the next four or five years.  I think it will.  We can move that along very, very quickly.  And, we have programs in place now that should sustain that.”

WVU announced the hiring of the institution’s first dean of completion to help achieve that goal back in May.

After a year of repeating the mission to create a culture of change, Gee’s speech at the Erickson Alumni Center did not dwell on Greek life or student attitudes toward alcohol and community responsibility.

However, he did note no incidents at Fall Fest 2015 which was moved to a Sunday evening this fall instead of the first night of classes.

According to Gee student arrests in August were half that of the same month last year.

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