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WVU at 150: Reflecting on a proud heritage; defining the next 15 decades

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On Feb. 7, 1867, West Virginia Gov. Arthur I. Boreman, he of Boreman Hall fame, put pen to paper and signed the bill that created the Agriculture College of West Virginia, which became West Virginia University a year later.

On Feb. 7, 2017, WVU will kick off the celebration of its 150 years as the state's land-grant flagship university – and at the same time recognize the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design as the foundation from which the entire University grew.

"It is a time to reflect on our heritage, honor generations of successful graduates, and envision our next 150 years of transforming lives,” President Gordon Gee said.

Events will continue all year, including performances, symposiums, a WVU Day at the Legislature and more – all served with signature ice cream flavors developed especially for the sesquicentennial: Appalachian Apple Crumble and Land Grant Crunch.

Whether a graduate or a friend of the University, everyone has a fond memory of a classroom, a research project, a teacher, a sporting event, a tradition or a rally.

One forged a new pathway when she became the first woman to graduate from the University in 1891; others became the first graduates of new academic programs like online integrated marketing communication and forensic and investigative science. Some witnessed the historic opening of the state’s medical center; others applauded the reveal of the spectacular new heart and vascular institute just last month.

A few brave students attended when Alexander Martin was president; hundreds of thousands of others passed through the doors as 25 other presidents, including interims, followed. Some were the first to attend classes in WVU’s oldest building, Martin Hall; others are taking classes in WVU’s newest academic building, Agricultural Sciences. Some wore beanies and had curfews; others wore Uggs and stayed out all night. Many served in the military, while others served our state and nation in community service.  

The arts and cultural activities enriched the campus, as robotics and engineering competitions tested our mettle. Some gained real-world experience at the student newspaper office and campus radio station; others gathered at the LGBTQ+ center to study and work. Many crammed into PRT cars during Mountaineer Week, while the lyrics of “Country Roads” could be heard at the end of a sports victory.

Cheers could be heard during the Southern Conference era at Old Mountaineer Field. Traditions changed as John Denver opened the new stadium and the Mountaineers moved to the Big 12 Conference. 

Many stayed in our panhandles and mountains; others left to forge careers and new adventures in different places. But one thing continues to be true: Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer.”

Gee believes WVU’s story is about making a difference for the people of the state, citing the way students, faculty and staff opened their hearts and rolled up their sleeves during devastating floods that ravaged the state last June, and the programs for West Virginia youth like Energy Express, 4-H and the Health Sciences and Technology Academy, among others.

“Our calling extends far beyond Morgantown. We hold the responsibility of serving 1.8 million West Virginians very deeply,” he said. “We will continue to tackle the health needs of our state – opioid addiction, heart disease, diabetes and other devastating health risks – and to be ever vigilant in delivering a high-quality education so that our students are successful in the classroom and beyond.”

He said WVU’s Research One status as one of the elite research-focused universities in the country will drive innovation now and in the future, saying, “West Virginia University has projects in alternative fuels, gravitational waves, the neurosciences, energy, public policy, emerging journalism practices, forensics, digital publishing, the arts and others. Through these programs we are changing lives and contributing to our state’s and nation’s economic prosperity.” 

And, he added, “We must continue to build and fulfill the hopes and dreams of a college education for hundreds of thousands more young men and women -- the future leaders and citizens of this great country.”

“This 150th year is a milestone on our journey to an even more effective and prosperous future,” Gee said. “So let us celebrate from where we came, where we are right now, and where we want this University to be in the future.

Whatever your memory or story, students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends are encouraged to share them at http://birthday.wvu.edu.

-WVU-

bl/02/06/17

CONTACT: University Relations/Communications

304.293.6997

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