A Message to the WVU Family:
In 1980, when I was the dean of the College of Law at West Virginia University, John Denver attended the opening of the new Mountaineer Field. Standing on the 50-yard line, he sang the words all West Virginians love: “Take me home, Country Roads.”
Thirty-four years later, my journey as a higher education leader has led me home to this wonderful institution.
West Virginia University is where my career as a university president began more than three decades ago, so it has always had a special meaning for me. Now, I am proud to return to the University as its 24th president.
Significant change has occurred at West Virginia University since I last served. Upon my return to campus in January, I have marveled at the way the campus has grown — in student enrollment, academic programming, research vitality, health care offerings — and every other way.
I have also realized the great potential West Virginia University has to advance even further in its stature and worldwide impact. The intellectual vitality of this institution is engaging — and empowering. It is time to move from the plateau of excellence to eminence. It is our responsibility to establish dialogue, find creative solutions, and be a leader in a transitional time within higher education. Together we can position this University to stand as a leader among our land-grant institutions — indeed among all institutions.
In my short time back on campus, I have found our talented faculty, staff, and students to be passionate about fulfilling West Virginians’ hopes and dreams — and so am I. In fact, it was my interactions with our faculty, staff, and students, as well as our alumni and friends, which influenced my decision to stay. Our faculty are doing extraordinary work that impacts every corner of society. Our staff demonstrate daily their commitment to this University and its mission. And our students — they are exceptional leaders who will soon head out to the world to become exceptional citizens — and exceptional West Virginia University alumni.
Returning to West Virginia has reminded me what a special place this is, with a warm and welcoming spirit all its own.
Across our state, 1.8 million West Virginians need and deserve the quality teaching, research, and outreach their land-grant university provides.
As president of West Virginia University, I will work to make our University and our state stronger than ever.
And I will always be thankful that country roads led me home.