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Irvin Stewart Society Luncheon


Prepared Remarks
June 6, 2014

I am pleased to be here with all of you, both the newest members of the Irvin Stewart Society and those who have been part of this special group for many years.

I know that I am among friends here, including many old friends who remember my first tenure leading West Virginia University.

I have been serving as a university president for more than 30 years, at what feels like half the universities in this country.

But my career as a university president began at West Virginia University when I was only 36 years old.

Wisdom comes with age and experience, so I can confidently say that this time around, I am a new and improved Gordon Gee.

I came back to West Virginia University because I recognize this University’s great potential.

Your generous support shows that you, too, believe in West Virginia University. You want to help us move from excellence to eminence.

Private support plays an increasingly important role in the success of our University.

Private giving enables us to recruit the best and brightest faculty, staff, and students — and to create a world-class learning environment.

It enables us to improve West Virginia’s health, economy, and quality of life. It helps us to save lives through healthcare services, research, and education.

Private giving helps us transform lives.

Many deserving causes could benefit from your generosity, and I am deeply thankful that you have chosen to support West Virginia University.

When President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act and created land-grant universities, he opened higher education to more citizens than ever before.

By the time Irvin Stewart was leading this University after World War II, the power of land-grant universities was surging.

Today, West Virginia University helps students create the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. We are advancing knowledge to improve West Virginia and the world.

We live in an era when ideas will be the catalysts of virtually all future economic growth.

Imagination today is what steel was 120 years ago — the very building block of progress.

This summer I am traveling the state, visiting each of its 55 counties, to spread the good word about West Virginia University, who we are, and what we do.

I am going everywhere from the State Fair and to the Boone County Pig Roast on my list of stops.

As I have stated many times since I returned, my biggest goal as president is assuring that 1.8 million West Virginians believe in their hearts and minds that West Virginia University is their University.

West Virginians are counting on us. But we cannot do it alone.

With your help, we can claim this time for West Virginia, and claim for our students an imagination as big as the world itself.

Thank you for making West Virginia University stronger and Mountaineers’ lives better.