MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University President Gordon Gee started this year’s State of the University address with a reference to an American president.
“The wisdom of the past, especially as articulated by Abraham Lincoln, provides a guidepost for the future, especially for the land-grant universities he signed into law,” he said.
Gee quoted Lincoln several times on Monday, tying the 16th president to his vision for the university.
Gee told the audience West Virginia University should be available to all students. He added Lincoln would have wanted university members to “build bridges instead of walls,” and prepare for the future in the process.
“We must topple the tyranny of the department and the college by restructuring our institutions,” Gee said. “Rather than organizing our teaching and learning functions for obsolescence, we must imagine the world in 20 years and reverse engineer.”
Gee said while national and international recognition is worthwhile, it is not what the university needs to be successful.
“We must reject the relentless pursuit of money and prestige — chasing rankings that we know are deeply flawed — at the expense of genuine educational excellence,” Gee said.
Gee cited a recent report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy, which found only six flagship institutions of the nation’s 50 are affordable for most students.
Following Gee’s remarks, Maryanne Reed, the university’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, also outlined priorities to increase relevance, advance the school’s reputation, grow revenue and build strong relationships.