A $2 million gift establishing a Chinese Studies Program will position West Virginia University to remain competitive in the global economy, President David C. Hardesty Jr. said today (Oct. 9).

In his final State of the Campus message, Hardesty announced that the estate of J. Vance and Florence Highland Johnson provided the endowment for the program in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences (see related press release).

When I was a student here, I would often hear the phrase, �€~What does that have to do with the price of eggs in China?Hardesty told faculty, staff, students and University supporters.

It meant that someone just said something unrelated to the group discussion topic because nothing here could have anything to do with the price of eggs in China,he added.If that was ever true, it is no longer true.

The Vance endowment will support the multidisciplinary program by establishing two professorships, a student support fund for study abroad and a library fund, Hardesty said.

This initiative spotlights the great importance of offering opportunities for our students to understand and compete for jobs in this global village,he said.

The announcement about the Chinese Studies Program came during the first of five lessons Hardesty said he has learned during his 11 years piloting the states flagship institution.

The lessons he wished to share with WVU s next generation of leaders:

  • The work WVU does must achieve the excellence necessary to be competitive in a global economy
  • The schools actions must exhibit strategic thinking, and the University must seek to understand the big picture and make principled decisions based on the institutions mission, vision and values
  • The University must welcome the many demands for accountability and use the energy they generate to constantly improve the organization
  • WVU must remain a learning organization, with all involved learning constantly in every way possible and sharing what they have learned throughout the organization
  • Those associated with WVU want to find meaning in their contribution, and the University must constantly invest in praise and recognition

I am sure there are more lessons to be learned from our experiences and documented for posterity,Hardesty said.I know I cant have captured all lessons that we have learned. But I hope I have you thinking: What have we learned? How can we pass it on?

Hardesty said these lessons were learned during challenging times for higher education in general and WVU in particular. These challenges, he said, included cuts in state and federal funding, declining high school enrollments, outdated facilities, Y2K -related technology issues and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The University responded, Hardesty added, running off a list of accomplishments that included a 25 percent increase in overall enrollment, a 100 percent increase in research funding, national recognition in both academics and athletics, $1 billion in campus renewal programs on the WVU and health sciences campuses and an increase in giving to the University.

And so I assert that we, the turn-of-the-century stewards of WVU , have accomplished much in which we can take pride,he said.

Hardesty expressed his gratitude to the institutions faculty, staff, administrators and governing board for supporting him and the programs he and his wife, Susan, initiated.

Presidents who serve their undergraduate alma maters are rare, but they each know what a privilege it is to serve the institution that launched them on their way in life,Hardesty said.This is especially true in our case because Susan and I met and married here, our children have been educated here, and we have spent the most productive years of our lives in service to a place we love.

You have worked hard to improve our programs and to bring even greater recognition to WVU ,the president added.I will always have a deep and heartfelt respect for the faculty, staff and administration of WVU .

Hardesty, who retires next September, vowed to continue to work hard in his last year at the helm and called on the University community to remain just as diligent.

I plan to work hard this year, never forgetting why I came to work here 11 years ago and why I came as a student some 40 years ago,he said.I hope you will continue to do all you can to keep our momentum going this year and beyond. People expect nothing less from those who comprise a flagship university.

Hardesty predicted an uncertain, but viable future for the institution.

While there is much uncertainty ahead, there is one truth of which I am very sure: West Virginia University, with all of its complexity and challenges, will confront these uncertainties, and it will continue to serve society,he said.

And it will do so in large measure because of the extraordinary values of its employees,Hardesty added.This is one humbling, undeniable and important truth that welcomes your next president.