Perseverance, innovation and life-changing research underpinned by unwavering dedication to service and a focused determination to change the trajectory of West Virginia for the better. These themes punctuated remarks by West Virginia University President Gordon Gee Thursday evening (Sept. 29) during a special event in Washington which brought together members of the state’s congressional delegation, alumni and friends of the University.
The state of the university-style speech acknowledged the challenges of the past two years.
“The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted every aspect of our society,” Gee said. “But, with the help of our congressional delegation and the resilience that typifies our state, we have emerged stronger to advance West Virginia and our nation.”
Gee added that higher education funding for institutions and students included in most emergency COVID-19 bills enabled WVU to assist students and their families facing unprecedented worries about educational costs, their own health and safety. And by leaning on its three guiding pillars — education, health care and prosperity — the University persevered.
WVU also advanced its reputation as an R1 research institution.
“Groundbreaking research requires complementary investments in research infrastructure, which is why the West Virginia University and WVU Hospital System projects, for which Senators Manchin and Capito helped to direct funds, are so important to our state’s economic development,” Gee said.
Gee also detailed the work of WVU energy researchers who have developed a process to extract rare earth and critical materials from acid mine drainage and coal waste, and he outlined others’ efforts to experiment with grasses raised on reclaimed mine lands that can be turned into biofuels and other value-added products.
Health care researchers are pioneering approaches to health threats such as the opioid crisis and Alzheimer’s disease. For example, the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute is conducting the world’s first clinical trial pairing focused ultrasound treatment with Alzheimer’s antibody drug therapy to a targeted area of the brain.
“Our University has made its mark in many other areas, from hosting a national Appalachian Studies Conference to discovering fast radio bursts among the stars in astrophysics,” Gee said.
Calling this a crucial time for innovation, Gee told the audience universities cannot afford to be complacent as he described WVU’s efforts to transform academics and student life on campus by strengthening mental health resources, engaging in diversity and inclusion, and invigorating the out-of-classroom experience.
“West Virginia University is more than an institution of higher learning. We are committed to being an institution of higher purpose for our students, our faculty and staff, and our state,” Gee said.
President Gee will deliver his annual State of the University address at 3 p.m. Monday (Oct. 3) at the College of Law Fitzsimmons Event Hall.
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