In his annual State of the Campus address today (Sept. 10), WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. described anew West Virginia University,one that has been rapidly evolving in its mission of teaching, research, service and technology to meet the needs of students and citizens in the 21st century.

“Working together, we have transformed WVU into a stronger University with new and updated facilities, a focused and balanced mission, a commitment to core values including student-centeredness and a clearer view of the present and future needs and goals of the people serve,”Hardesty said.

In its core mission of educating students, WVU is incorporating new information delivery methodssuch as web-based courseswhile maintaining the primary connection between student and teacher, he noted, distributing a progress report on efforts that began in 1998 to strengthen academic standards and expectations at the University.

As the report indicates, steps taken to foster academic excellence on campus include:

  • Developing a first-year academic experience that complements the first-year student life initiatives of Operation Jump-Start. Starting next fall, WVU will require all first-year students to complete an orientation course that focuses on time management and study skills during their first semester. The University has also encouraged faculty teaching freshman-level classes to require attendance and to incorporate critical thinking requirements into their courses. In the residence halls, WVU has establishedlive and learnfloors, where students with a common major or interest live together and take some courses together.
  • Establishing a capstone experience in every undergraduate degree program. By the end of this academic year, each degree program will include a culminating experiencesuch as a senior thesis, research project or performance that requires students to integrate the knowledge they have gained as students and to gather new knowledge independently.
  • Creating an undergraduate education mission statement. Faculty and administrators developed an undergraduate education mission statement that explains the value of a WVU education to prospective students and their parents.
  • Assessing curricular reform efforts. Faculty have begun a review of the liberal studies programa common set of course requirements that all students must fulfillto ensure that courses include critical thinking opportunities and breadth of knowledge. Efforts to assess the effectiveness of academic advising and the amount of information graduating students have learned are also under way.

In his address, Hardesty noted the role new facilitiessuch as a $37 million technologically advanced Downtown Library Complex and a $47 million Life Sciences Building with state-of-the-art laboratory spaceplay in supporting student learning and social development.

“These superb facilities, along with the recently opened Student Recreation Center and computer laboratories, and the soon-to-be-open interactive Visitors Resource Center at One Waterfront Place, demonstrate our commitment to our studentssuccess,”he said.

Hardesty also praised the Universitys recent growth in research. In the 2000-01 fiscal year, WVU set a new record for sponsored programs funding: $88.7 million, 14 percent more than the previous high of $79 million.

To help support the Universitys mission, he said, the WVU Foundations Building Greatness capital campaign has already generated $175 million toward its $250 million goal. The funds will support such areas as scholarships, endowed professorships, program development and facilities.

Hardesty made several predictions about what WVU may become in the near future:

  • A more widely recognized”economic engine for West Virginia,”facilitating job creation and workforce development
  • A home to more nationally known research and service centers such as the existing Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute and the National Environmental Training Center
  • A University that can assure students and parents of the value of investing in a WVU education
  • An employer of faculty and staff who learn”best practices”for what they do and model these for colleagues, students and state citizens
  • A more inclusive, diversified educational center, where technology brings together students from around the world.

While the future will bring changes, Hardesty emphasized, the University core mission and values will remain constant.

“The result of work is a new West Virginia University,”he said.”Yet, our traditions are intact. Our history remains that of a land-grant university fulfilling its mission to serve the people of our state. But things are happening at WVU now that will benefit individuals and society in ways never imagined in 1895 or 1995and in many ways we cannot imagine today.”

The full text of the presidents speech can be located