* WVU President-elect*
State of the University Address
June 17, 2009
Thank you. I can tell you that is a great manPeter Magrath. You have no idea how lucky this University is that hes been with us for the past year. Weve had a chance to work hand in hand for the past three months and its been a seamless transition. Peter has been a good friend and a good mentor and he has done just a great job.
Would you help me thank him again for what he has done.
Peter has also pledged that he will continue to help in any way, shape or form that he can. So Peter, you know I will be calling you on occasion and I hope you answer that call, and I know you will.
This is an incredible turnout. Im thrilled to be here. I have a couple of people I want to thank. I think we should really thank, right in the beginning, Lionel Taylor, Steve Douglas, Kevin Berry and Mike Petruski for putting this together. This is a great event. And a great place to have the event. Ive got to tell you, Chris, I got chills when I watched that video, and that voice, a very special voice in that video. You and your team did a great job on that, so thank you.
We do have a lot of people with us here today. Carolyn Long, I have to ask you to stand if you would. Shes the chair of the Board of Governors. We also have several other members of the Board of Governors, the Alumni Association Board of Directors, and the WVU Foundation Board of Directors. Thank you for being with us today, and not just thank you for being with us today, but thank you for your dedication and service to this great University. I look forward to working with all of you for many years to come.
Also, I do want to thank Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito, who was here and did have to go. She would have loved to have stayed. But I know that others have sent reps: Congressman Nick Rahall, Congressman Alan Mollohan, Senator Jay Rockefeller, Senator Byrd and Governor Joe Manchin. And my friend Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger has sent some from his team from Maryland, so thank you all for being here.
Mike mentioned that I used the wordcrazywhen I said the Mountaineers are crazy about their University, and its true. You know what Im talking about when Im talking about Mountaineer pride because you have it. I noticed it right away. As soon as I interviewed with the search committee, I could feel it. And it is very special. Theres a reason why you have that pride, and I have that pride, and youre crazy about this University: This is one of the true great American, land-grant universities. I can tell you that during the search process, I studied this University a lot. I studied everything I could: the health sciences, the research, the education, the athletics. I found we have a solid institution.
I can tell you in my 20 years at Towson University and with the University System of Maryland, I watched WVU . I watched it play sports, I watched research and I knew all of the things, or many of the things, that were going on at this great University. And in Maryland there are a lot of great Mountaineer fans and friends. A lot of my friends have sent their kids to WVU for a reason: Because we provide a great education. And I can tell you that the Mountaineer alumni are unbelievably proud and unbelievably loyal. Its unlike anything, honestly, that I have ever seen.
During the presidential search process, I met a lot of people. I met a lot of students, I met a lot of faculty members, staff members, researchers, community people and alumni, and they really reinforced that people love West Virginia University. Theyre into it and theyre into it for a lot of good reasons. But one thing Ive found is that their enthusiasm and compassion are absolutely contagious. Absolutely, completely contagious.
I didnt realize this, but the minute I said,Yes, I would be more than thrilled to have the opportunity to come to West Virginia University,it was basically a full-time job at that moment. But you know whatIve loved every minute. Ive been back and forth to Morgantown a whole bunch of times, Ive been to Charleston, Ive been to Wheeling, Ive been to D.C. a couple times and all it has done is reinforce that Im really happy to be a new Mountaineer. And I can promise that Im going to do the very best I can.
I found in meetings with faculty and staff on the campus that you cant find a more committed or dedicated group. Theyre committed to making a difference every single day. And I can tell you that they do. They absolutely, completely do. Look at the medical professions. We are literally saving lives. Its a big deal. But were also committed to the statethe great state of West Virginiacommitted to building the economy and strengthening the state as a whole.
I did spend a couple of days in Washington, D.C. I got to hang out with the Congressional team and the Senators team and found the same thingthey are very dedicated to the University, very dedicated to the state and I appreciate what they have done. Theyve done a lot for this great institution.
As I look around WVU , we have an alumni network thats global. Its not just West Virginia, its not just D.C., its not just Marylandits everywhere. People keep WVU close to their hearts no matter where they live, no matter where they work, no matter where they travel. There is a true love for this institution like no other I have seen.
I want to brag a little bit. Anytime Im given the microphone I want to brag about our students, our faculty and our staff, so I want to take just a minute to tell you a couple stories. I think that you will be impressed with what you hear. If we had more time, I literally could tell you hundreds of examples of faculty members every single day making a positive difference, of staff members receiving national awards, of students doing great things in the community. I literally could go on and on and on, but Im going to pick a couple of examples. One, you already met. Shes one of our shining stars, one we probably wish we could all be like and that is Emily Calandrelli. She is something very special, as you saw. Shes actually interning this summer in Congressman Mollohans office.
I dont think theres anyone in here who has won the kind of awards she has won. Not one award, not two awards, but three. Its huge. Think about that. A Truman Scholar, right here in our room, a Goldwater Scholar and someone whos on the USA Today All USA College Academic First Team. Emilythats a very big deal and were honored that you are a student at WVU .
I think shes an example of what happens when you take a motivated student and put her on the campus at WVU . You put a student like that in the hands of great faculty members and staff members and good things are going to happen.
When she arrived at WVU , I was told she was absolutely ready to learn and ready to achieve, but shes also found some very good mentors who have guided her and thats what were all abouthelping people like Emily become very successful.
Shes found opportunities to do research. Youve heard a little bit about those opportunities. Shes had opportunities to study abroad and shes already, literally, at the age of probably 20 or 21, distinguished herself on a national stage. That makes us all incredibly proud.
Ill give you a quote from the director of our ASPIRE program, Lisa DeFrank-Cole, who is with us today. Heres what she said about Emily:(Shes) a delight to interact withshe has a wonderful personality, a keen intellect and is also down to earth. She has made her WVU family very proud and she will continue to do so for many years.Without questionyou are rightshe will do so. Her dreams are going to come true. Her vision for the future is going to come true. And dont be surprised one day when you see her up in the stars with NASA , because if anybody could do it, I think Emily could. So Emily, congratulations on your successes.
Let me tell you about a couple of our faculty membersand again, rarely will you see me when Im not bragging about the work that they do. We are literally stacked with great faculty members. Not one or two, but dozens and dozens and dozens that are world-respected. They are some of the best in the entire world.
One is with us todayDr. Scot Remick. I want to brag about him just for a minute. Hes an outstanding physician and researcher who leads West Virginia Universitys Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center. This is a big deal. His vision and leadership are helping to grow West Virginias premier cancer facility into a world-class center, integrating research with clinical care and offering cutting-edge treatment to his patients. He is literally one of the absolute best you can find anywhere in the world.
The cancer center receives almost 30,000 patient visits every single year, but in reality, there is the potential that millions of people from around the world will one day benefit from the clinical trials that are taking place right now on our campus.
The cancer center offers a dramatic example of what can happen when the University joins forces with some good friends and some very generous kind, caring people who support our mission. As part of a historic $25 million gift to West Virginia University, Jo and Ben Statler provided funds to launchBonnies Bus,a mobile digital mammography unit that travels across the state to provide increased access and screening services to individuals in remote areas of the state.
In a state with an aging population and high rates of cancer and other diseases, this is critical. These are the kinds of things we should be doing, so together were making a difference. Dr. Remick, can you stand for a minute please and be recognized. And Jo and Ben Statler, can you also stand and be recognized.
Let me tell you about another one of our star faculty membersDr. Ruth Kershner. Dr. Kershner represents WVU s commitment to changing lives and expanding minds. She is an award-winning teacher and a health educator whose work reaches well beyond the classroom, into the state, into the region and, literally, across the globe.
Shes been instrumental in the success of our online graduate program in school health, which is offered by the Department of Community Medicine. The program is the only one of its kind in West Virginia. The program uses technology to offer education to thousands of individualsliterally thousands of individualswho otherwise would not have access.
Shes a substance abuse educator, and in these last four years, shes educated and worked with more than 5,000 kids. Thats a huge number. This is a great person doing great things. She offers seminars, dialogue and frank, open discussionson the campus and in the community.
Like many of our faculty members, shes won a whole stack of awards. Recently, she was named professor of the year, given by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Danceand Professor of the Year honors given by the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia.
She is very dedicated to her students and a great mentor. She inspires her students and, like many, she has a global impact. Its not just about West Virginia, its not just about the East Coast, its not just about the United States. Shes served as an international health mentor for students in Honduras, Tanzania and Guatemala, to name just a few. But what is neat about Dr. Kershner is that shes an example of WVU s ability to attract the bestthe best educators, who are dedicated to scholarship and mentorship. Dr. Kershner, would you please stand and be recognized.
Those are two examples. We could go on and on and you would be impressed by every one of them. But let me give you an example of one of our staff members. Weve got an unbelievably dedicated and committed staff.
Few people at West Virginia University take their mentoring role as seriously as another person in attendance todayDr. Tom Sloane, who is our senior associate dean of students.
Toms spent more than four decades with our students and their families, sharing in their success, guiding them, assisting them in their most vulnerable moments. And you know with students it doesnt take a lot for them to drop out of school. It could be financial; it could be something personal that happened. You need a guy like Tom there saying,We can get through this. You can be successful. Were not giving up.He appreciates that parents entrust WVU to care for their children and to help make sure those students are successful.
And when students face serious problemsand they do at times, like fires in their apartments, injuries, personal crises, illness and lossDr. Sloane is there. In fact, what I heard: He is always there for them. He is a kind and compassionate face of West Virginia University.
I have learned from students that they absolutely adore this man, not just on the campus but alumni around the world. Again, its a global impact. He just returned from a trip to the Middle East where he visited with current and former students. He is a living example of WVU s promise to care for our students. Can I ask Dr. Sloane to please stand and be recognized.
So I wasnt kidding when I said were stacked with great people. It is true.
Now you know we have more than 170,000 alums out there, who are very successful, very dedicated and very crazy about this great University. In the past few months I have had the honor and the chance to meet many truly outstanding Mountaineersa lot in the Baltimore-Washington area and a lot when I traveled back to West Virginia. I want to point out just one who has already become a good friend. He is a member of the worldwide alumni network: Alan Zuccari, who is president and CEO of Hamilton Insurance Agency and a graduate of the WVU political science program.
In 1982, Alan bought an independent agency. It was small, but he was bold. He made a step out. He has grown this and grown this. It is now the 55th largest independent broker in the entire country. For more than 25 years, Hamilton Insurance Agency has provided premier insurance brokerage, risk management and benefits administration services to some of the nations largest healthcare providers.
And, like many WVU people, hes won numerous awards, too many to probably list, but Im going to list a few of them: Health Facilities Man of the Year, Outstanding Business Member of the Year and the prestigious Golden Eagle Award for three straight years.
Alan is a champion for his industry, but more importantly to me and to us, hes a champion for his University. He is purely dedicated and like most of you, excited about whats going on at the University. Alan and his wife, Lisa, are supporters of the Mountaineer Athletic Club. Alan represents what alumni bring to WVU not only the resources to help us be successful, but pride for the education theyve received at this great University.
Hes also helping us recruit a new generation of Mountaineers, and we want to make sure they keep coming. Were lucky to have two from the Zuccari familyone currently at the institution and one on his way. His son Jason Zuccari is the president of the student body at the institution and another son, Jarred, will join us in the fall. Can I ask the Zuccaris to please stand and be recognized.
All the people I just mentioned are great people and they represent different facets of our great Universityfrom faculty to staff to students to alumthat are all connected and making a difference every single day, changing lives not only in West Virginia but around the world.
Its clear to me that people really understand the mission of the institution. Were entrusted to make a difference every single daya positive differenceand these are some examples of people who are doing that in West Virginia, in Washington and around the globe.
As president, I have a job to do. Its to help people like these get the resources they need. Its to help set a leadership tone. Its to help set a strategic vision. Its to form partnerships that will help the University be successful.
We will become a premier partner within West Virginia, around the country and around the world.
Over the coming years, as Peter said, we will increase our research efforts. I think we have to, and I think we have a team in place that can do it. We will become a national leader and we will become an international leader, in energy, in biometrics, in the health sciences, in education and in other fields. We will be recognized for what were doing.
We will leverage ourselves with top-notch, cutting-edge technology and we will find ways to use that technology to be more effective, to drive change and to drive progress.
Im very proud of what we do in the health sciences. We will continue to do that. Were going to bring a new chancellor in and move forward. But one thing that we will continue to doabsolutelyis the outreach across the state. It is very important that we do it.
Peter, you mentioned student support services. Well make sure the students that come our way are successful. Well work on increasing scholarship and financial aid programs. And well make sure that every student that goes through our great academic programs is successful.
Peter, we will work on diversity. We will increase our diversity. And I can tell you that as we work in a global environment, were going to reach out, to make sure our students jump on those new opportunities that exist.
We will be focused, we will be disciplined and we will work hard in everything that we do.
Let me end by saying this: We are honestly a great American university. We need to believe that and we need to keep saying it, because it is absolutely true. And we do have an opportunity. We have an opportunity to advance society through teaching, through research, through service and through outreach.
Weve done it for 142 years and were going to keep right on doing it.
Im so honoredyou have no ideathat Ive been given this opportunity to come to a great University. It is a dream come true for me. My family is honored. We cant wait to get to Morgantown. Were thrilled to be the newest Mountaineers.
And I think togethernot only in the University, but all of you in this roomcan really make WVU a university that others look to for advice and guidance.
To view the webcast of Clements’speech: http://webcast.wvu.edu/2009_state_of_the_university