MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University President Gordon Gee used his State of the University address Monday to highlight the value of a college education and accomplishments made through the difficulties of the pandemic.
“The people in this room, the faculty, staff and students, never faltered in your efforts to learn, to serve to care and to full fill our responsibilities,” Gee said. “So, this is the epitome of who we are and this is how Mountaineers go first.”
Gee specifically mentioned the work to extract rare earth minerals form acid mine drainage, advancements in neuro-addiction treatment, increasing the availability of mental health care, the WVU Tech Upward Bound Program and a flexible degree program offered at Potomac State College.
“I’m fortunate to bear witness daily to the myriad of ways in which we lift our communities,” Gee said. “We may face dilemmas, but all of us gathered here today are part of a powerful, powerful collective that nurtures potential.”
Gee said WVU continues to support first generation students in new ways looking to make sure they have an equal opportunity to achieve academic success. Gee said in the 2021-22 year the WVU Foundation received more than $126 million in donations to help students with tuition.
“This fall we launched the Mountain Scholars Program to create a culture of support for incoming students from rural West Virginia and to ensure they have the same opportunities for study abroad and experiential learning.”
The focus on the student has also transformed the learning experience moving forward. The new home of the John Chambers School of Business and Economics, Reynolds Hall brings new approaches that increase opportunity for students and business.
“Reynolds Hall has transformed the classroom experience and will help our graduates compete in today’s marketplace,” Gee said. “The labs and learning tools will also forge a new synergy between industry and academia creating engagement opportunities.”
On the cost of college, Gee said the national average total debt for a graduating college senior is $33,000 compared to $12,000 at WVU-Morgantown. Additionally, 41 percent of May 2022 graduates finished degrees with zero debt.
“The challenges we face may introduce a few detours, but they do not detour us from progress,” Gee said. “Change can be uncomfortable as we all know, but we have weathered these shifts by anchoring our work in our West Virginia values.”