September 19, 2022
Dear West Virginia University Students, Faculty and Staff,
We usually have a destination in mind when we venture out into the world. Whether we are heading to class, to the office or to our favorite coffee shop to meet friends, we know the way. And even if we are not sure of the directions, we can easily search for them on our phones.
Knowing where you are going is important – not only in your day-to-day life but also for the future that lies before you. Defining who you want to be and how you want to contribute to the world will help you determine the right paths to take. It will help lead you to your passions and to your purpose.
Asking yourself, “What is my purpose in life?” is a heavy question. And the answer does not always come easily – and it also changes as you grow and learn. But when you understand what your strengths are and how those talents bring value to the world around us, you also begin to understand your purpose in life. When you connect those strengths and talents to the careers, issues and topics you are most passionate about, you will naturally live your life with purpose every single day.
At West Virginia University, we are not just a place of higher learning. We are a place of higher purpose. We approach our work, our studies every day knowing that we can make a difference. It is intrinsic to our Mountaineer Values and who we are as a campus community.
To deepen that commitment, this week we begin our inaugural Week of Purpose. This week has been designed to begin the conversation of how purpose can be woven throughout our daily lives – in academics, health and wellness, careers and networking, and in learning new perspectives we had not before considered.
With more than 60 activities and programs planned, there is something for everyone. Explore your strengths and talents through GallupStrengths workshops. Attend a session to learn how to integrate purpose into the classroom. Participate in health and wellness activities to learn relaxation and stress-reducing techniques. Or connect with alumni to hear about their career journeys.
We also welcome our Hardesty Festival of Ideas Keynote Speaker Sarah Culberson. I have had the pleasure of meeting Sarah, whose personal journey to purpose is incredibly inspiring. I encourage you to join me at the Mountainlair ballrooms at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21 to meet Sarah (who grew up in Morgantown before discovering she was a real princess) as she shares how she uncovered the path she was meant to travel.
I also encourage you to take some time to peruse the activities offered at purpose.wvu.edu. And while you are on the site, you will find videos of fellow faculty, staff and students who share their personal purpose journeys. And if you have any questions regarding the week’s activities, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Later this academic year, I look forward to opening the doors to our Purpose Center – a physical space where you can explore new perspectives and connect with University resources that will help you achieve your full potential. It will be a space for self-reflection, as well as a place of community.
And as we explore what it means to be a university of higher purpose, we need to remember that it is an ever-evolving journey. The path is not set in stone. In fact, this reminds me of the words we see on the Mountainlair every day: It’s why we go to the edge, and instead of going back, we build a bridge, and we keep going.
The beauty of building that bridge will lead us to new adventures. New ideas to consider. New opportunities that will lead us to new possibilities. Sometimes the unexpected delivers more than we could have planned for. Take this week to experience the unexpected. And I look forward to continuing this conversation of purpose in the coming months.
E. Gordon Gee
President, West Virginia University