WASHINGTON, D.C. — West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee didn’t disappoint more than 300 loyal Mountaineers when he spoke Thursday at the 36th annual WVU Alumni Luncheon on Capitol Hill – providing plenty of deja vu moments as he recalled having first addressed this group more than 30 years ago.
“The first time they hosted it, I was here and it was held in a telephone booth,” he said with a smile.
Calling himself the “two-time winner of the West Virginia University presidency,” Gee said he’s glad to once again be among an amazing faculty and staff as well as “33,000 students who are some of the brightest on the face of the Earth.”
West Virginia’s Congressional delegation, including Sen. Jay Rockefeller, were among those in the luncheon audience at the National Press Club as Gee described his ongoing efforts to visit each of the state’s 55 counties spreading the word about WVU’s importance to all residents.
“I’m visiting every county because I believe WVU is truly every county’s university. And I will work tirelessly to let 1.8 million citizens believe in their heart that our university is the most important thing in their lives,” he said. WVU was founded in 1867 as a land-grant institution, but today helps fuel the state’s economy and provide jobs as well as educate students, Gee said.
Stops along the way have included plenty of “hidden gems,” including a 4-H camp in Hedgesville, the Mothman statue in Point Pleasant and a gas well near Moundsville – as well as opportunities to meet students he hopes will consider attending college in Morgantown or a satellite campus.
“Here I am, back where I started, with the blessing of being part of an institution at its time of transformation. And I’ve received the warmest possible welcome from all of you Mountaineers,” Gee said.
“During my travels, I’ve seen the challenges, but more importantly I’ve seen the opportunities, and they are extraordinary,” he said.
Gee said he has already visited 35 counties and expects to complete his state tour within the month…