Dear West Virginia University Community,
As we greet a new month, the first day of May often signifies a time of seasonal change. Colorful blooms, sun-filled skies and the sounds of returning nature provide a welcome relief from the solitude of winter. We find ourselves waking with a renewed sense of hope and purpose. Therefore, it is only fitting that today we look toward the future and envision brighter days ahead.
These past few months have been extremely tumultuous and disruptive for our community, our University and the entire world. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a variety of crises that we must face with thoughtful diligence to preserve our present, while preparing a path toward recovery. One of the most devastating effects this public health emergency has created is that of financial uncertainty. The economic impact of COVID-19 has not only affected our University, it has also strained the finances of our students and families. There is grave concern about college affordability and the impact this crisis it will have on the futures of our young people.
Knowing the financial burdens many of our students and families are now facing, the West Virginia University Board of Governors today voted that the base tuition and fees will remain unchanged for the academic year beginning in August. As a land-grant institution, strengthening our responsibility to accessibility and affordability for our students is critically important. My hope is this action will demonstrate that commitment, as well as allow our students and families to plan financially for the future with a deeper sense of security.
Another measure I believe will assist our students and families in planning for the future is our plan to open our campuses for the fall semester. As the State of West Virginia moves toward a gradual and methodical reopening, we have every hope and expectation of safely resuming in-person education across the West Virginia University system. As a university president for more than 40 years, I know the intrinsic value of the free exchange of ideas, the late-night conversations over pizza and the serendipitous discovery of new passions and aspirations.
However, I want to assure you that the safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff, as well as our communities, is our highest priority. We are in daily communication with our state and local public health and government officials. And we will follow their guidance. Those conversations will bring to bear the necessary insights that will drive our decisions.
Today we feel confident there is enough information to announce our plans that we expect to be on campus for the fall. There are teams across the University developing the new measures, guidelines and precautions we will need to implement to inhibit the spread of COVID-19. We are considering processes for testing, tracing and isolating should another outbreak occur. And as we continue to explore ideas, this I know for certain: It will take all of us – working together – to create and maintain a safe campus environment this fall.
So, today we move forward with a firm resolve while creating plans for any developments that may arise. As more information becomes available, we will be communicating with you – early and often. I ask for your patience as these decisions require astute consideration and meticulous execution. We want to deliver the academic and student life experience you have come to love and expect – but safely in our new reality.
As we continue on this journey, I appreciate your commitment to West Virginia University. I have said many times this is a special place. Our University, our state and our people have never shone more brightly. And as we continue to come together, let us move onward with those ideals that define us. Let us move forward with determination, resiliency and hope for brighter days ahead.
E. Gordon Gee
President, West Virginia University