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A Welcome from President Gee

(Exclusive to The Daily Athenaeum, June 1, 2015)

My Dear New Mountaineers,

Welcome to your new home among the hills.

I am thrilled that you have chosen West Virginia University for the next chapter of your life’s journey.

That decision is one of the best you could make – I promise you.

Also, you will be pleased to know I am always game for selfies and hugs when I see you around campus.

If you have not done so already, you will quickly fall in love with this wonderful place, its people, its scenic beauty, its academics, its innovation, its student life, its sports programs, its traditions, its pioneering spirit.

You will come to love the city of Morgantown, which is continually ranked as one of the best small towns in America. Our community has so much to offer – from outdoor activities to unique restaurants to great cultural events and great people.

As I recently told our graduating Class of 2015, you, too, are likely experiencing a range of emotions right now – excitement, anxiety, inspiration and intimidation.

This is perfectly OK. New adventures tend to rattle our feelings, but it is in our nature to shake off those nerves and march on into unknown territories.

I remember quite vividly my first days as a college student. Having grown up in a small town called Vernal, Utah, I decided to go to the University of Utah, which was three hours away and in a city that was 20 times larger.

Up until then, I had not met many people from different backgrounds, different races or different countries.

I delved in headfirst. I made new friends, joined a fraternity and digested all of the fascinating knowledge that flowed from the lectures, professors and books. For me, college was like opening a door to a brand new world.

For many of you, this marks the first time that you will have to fend for yourself as an adult. You can no longer rely on your parents to boot you out of bed. It is up to you to make your own appointments, set your study hours, decide what to have for dinner and figure out how to travel from point A to point B.

Look at it this way: It is freedom!

But with freedom comes great responsibility.

To succeed academically, you need to go to class, complete your work on time and ask for help whenever you need it. You will find that the people here will help you.

However, the time spent outside the classrooms and libraries is just as critical to your development as a young adult. That is why I preach the mantra of “work smart and play smart.” It is important to have fun and reward yourself for your hard work.

Surely, every adult in your life has lectured you about studying and making good grades. You have made it this far. You know the drill. But those adults should also be telling you to laugh with friends over ice cream, exercise 20 minutes a day and take an occasional road trip to explore somewhere new.

My friends, this will serve as your home for the next four years. So settle in and make this chapter of your life worth reading.

Congratulations on becoming a Mountaineer and welcome to the family. Your mountain is waiting!

E. Gordon Gee