HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — As far as Marshall University President Stephen Kopp and West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee were concerned Tuesday, the only rivalry between the two schools moving forward will be in athletics.
“I think they (West Virginians) should have an expectation that the only competition we have is for three-and-a-half hours on a Saturday afternoon or in a basketball game, and that’s good, healthy competition,” Gee said. “The rest of the time, we are absolutely committed to partnerships. … I think it’s important for us to have that conversation.”
The two university leaders discussed their intentions to partner to improve academics and tackle issues facing public higher education in the state in the Marshall University Foundation Hall.
Gee was on campus as part of a statewide tour of West Virginia, which will take him through all 55 counties by mid-August to commemorate 100 years of the National Cooperative Extension Service, the federal program that facilitates extension services, including the West Virginia University Extension Service. Tuesday’s trip for Gee also included visits to Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School and Wahama High School in Mason County, and it ended Tuesday eveing with a WVU alumni event at 21 in The Frederick in downtown Huntington.
Following a tour of campus via a golf cart driven by Marshall University Police Chief Jim Terry, Gee and Kopp stopped in the Foundation Hall to talk in broad strokes about the changing higher education landscape and their goals with the collaboration.
“We started by talking about all of the things we have in common,” Kopp said. “Certainly higher education, serving the people of West Virginia and the higher education realm is what holds us together.”
Gee said it had been more than 30 years since he last visited Huntington during his previous tenure at WVU on a similar statewide tour.