MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Classes are officially underway for the Fall semester of West Virginia University’s 150th year.
“The largest and most academically prepared class in the history of the University just arrived,” WVU President Gordon Gee said Wednesday morning on WAJR’s Morgantown AM. “We had a wonderful orientation. I must say that I’m very impressed by what all of our team have done here — our faculty, our staff, our student leaders. And now we’ve got a great class again.”
More than 5,000 new students, including the largest honors college class in school history, arrived over the weekend in the town’s annual move-in weekend. As a result of that large arriving class, President Gee has been asked to take more than a few “selfies.”
“Someone asked me if I’m irritated by that,” he said. “Quite the contrary. I’ve been in places in which they’ve booted me out. So, much preferable to have that.”
Gee said higher learning is more important than ever. This group, the class of 2021, will be among the trailblazers who need to find a new path forward in terms of employment.
“In ten years, about 80 percent of the jobs that are now existing won’t exist because of the fact that technology and other things have moved along so fast,” he said. “The most important challenge for young people is to make certain that they focus themselves on thinking very clearly on what they want to do — their passion.”
He recommended new students wade slowly through the uncertain waters of their freshmen year.
“You come to this institution, we’re kind of like a huge academic cafeteria. You have so many things to choose from and so many opportunities that you need to shop a bit and find where your passion is. And that will come forward.”
“We need to always remind ourselves that being able to think and think and think is the coin of our realm as a university.”
In the wake of racially-themed violence on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, Gee said WVU must commit to the principles of free speech.
“Universities ought to be places where you have the right to talk without being yelled at, without being threatened,” he said. “That’s the notion of what a university is about.”
Representatives from West Virginia University were present for a Charlottesville vigil Sunday evening in Morgantown.
Enrollment on Morgantown’s campus exceeded 28,000 last fall.