Chris Schulz Published

WVU President Gordon Gee Faces University’s Challenges In State Of University Address

WVU President Gordon Gee stands in front of a blue curtain next to a large 'WV' logo statue. Gee wears a light red and blue bowtie over a white dress shirt and blue suit. The heads of the crowd he addresses can be seen in the foreground.
West Virginia University President Gordon Gee delivering his state of the university address March 27, 2023.
WVU Photo/Matt Sunday

West Virginia University (WVU) President Gordon Gee outlined several challenges facing the university Monday morning. 

After saying the state of the university is strong, Gee outlined several obstacles including declining enrollment, which has led to a budget deficit of $35 million for the upcoming fiscal year. He also highlighted what he calls are attacks on higher education. 

“Make no mistake, higher education is under attack,” Gee said. “We, as a university, must stand firm. And we must provide example after example of why an educated citizenry is the best path forward for our country and our state.” 

He expounded upon the Board of Governors’ directive to reposition the entire WVU System to be more responsive and relevant moving forward from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I ask that we face forward to address our future and focus our energies on what I am calling our first principles,” Gee said. “To begin with, we must put our students first. Second, we must embrace our land grant mission and the people we serve. And third, we must differentiate ourselves by investing in the initiatives that uniquely serve our campus community, reflect our values and play to our strengths.” 

The president announced WVU Pledge, a new scholarship program that will assist qualifying Promise scholars, who have an expected family contribution of zero, with their costs.

Gee also addressed the recent passage of Senate Bill 10, more commonly known as the “Campus Carry Bill.” The law allows holders of concealed carry permits to bring handguns and pistols on college campuses, with certain restrictions.

“I want to stress that the university has always advocated for local control,” he said. “However, when we knew the legislation was likely to pass, we were prepared with best practices and exemptions that were included in the final bill. Though it does not go into effect until July 1, 2024, we will use that time wisely to prepare our campus.”

Gee said the university will always strive to ensure that campus safety is a top priority, including access to mental health resources.

“The university has invested significantly in mental health and safety resources over the past several years,” he said. “We have begun training faculty and staff on how to recognize students in distress and how to help, and we established a wellness and student mental health advisory board, which helps shape decisions made by our mental health experts. We know this is a serious concern for our students and we will continue to work with them to provide the resources they need.”