MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU President Gordon Gee will be in front of his television at 9 p.m. Sunday.
He’ll be watching himself, some university colleagues and a WVU graduate as they work on a structure at Jackson’s Mill.
“Absolutely, I’ll be tuned in,” Gee told The Dominion Post.
Gee, bowtie and all, will be hammering nails and sawing wood as a Barnwood Builders episode airs on the DIY network.
The show was taped in April at Jackson’s Mill, where participants joined together in a team-building exercise, according to a press release from WVU.
“I laugh about it,” Gee said. “I’m about as far from a barn builder as you can imagine. The most important thing, I didn’t hit my thumb or cut myself.
WVU alumnus and host of Barnwood Builders Mark Bowe coordinated the project to help bring the new center to life.
The timber frame structure, made of 350-year-old wood, was built offsite at the company’s “Boneyard” and transported in pieces to the site.
A team from Jackson’s Mill coordinated the site prep work, and Bowe and his crew instructed the WVU team — using tools and techniques from pioneer days — on completing the necessary construction, raising the structure and putting on the finishing touches, according to WVU.
Gee said he had a great time working along side his administrative colleagues and others from around the university.
“Part of the issue is this is building teamwork and creating relationships,” Gee said. “It was a very successful day for all of us.”
About 25 leaders from around the university, including deans, vice presidents, staff and students, participated in the build.
The group worked for three days through rain, flooding, snow and sleet, to build the 16-by-20-foot structure, which will be used as a craft education center for visitors, including 4-Hers, to learn about Appalachian heritage such as candle making, quilting, cooking and more.
Gee said he’s proud a WVU alum has found success with this program and that Bowe returned to West Virginia to shine a light on the state and university.
“It allows us to tell our story, and tell it through the eyes of other people,” Gee said.
He said people know the diversity and the complexity of WVU on any given day, but being part of this build puts a human face on the university.
“The most important thing is that it tells a story about West Virginia,” Gee said.
The building also will serve as a home for Appalachian artisans who want to showcase their works and teach others about their craft.
A team from Jackson’s Mill has been working with contractors to complete the building and anticipates the project will be completed this month, according to the release.
Barnwood Builders donated the structure to WVU Jackson’s Mill and is working with WVU to offer this one-of-a-kind team-building experience to others.
Bowe worked as a coal miner while completing his bachelor’s degree at the College of Business and Economics, and later received a master’s degree in safety management from the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. He founded his company, Antique Cabins and Barns, in 1995. He and his longtime crew have reclaimed more than 400 pioneer-era structures.