January 11, 2010

Dear Friends of West Virginia University:

As we begin a new year, I truly believe our University is strong, stable, and poised for even greater prominence in our state, nation, and world. As I have seen since arriving on campus more than six months ago, much of our strength comes from people like you.

For me and my family, 2009 has been a wonderful year — the year we became Mountaineers. We have been welcomed warmly into the WVU family, and we quickly learned what makes this place so special — a rich tradition of nurturing creativity and empowering each student, faculty member, and employee to accomplish incredible things.

Noteworthy among our collective accomplishments in 2009 are:

• Maintaining strong enrollment at all of our campuses across the state, with gains in important strategic areas, including honors, graduate, international undergraduate, and online.

• Increasing total sponsored funding for research by 8 percent to $152.3 million in Fiscal Year 2009. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that WVU is 12th on their list of “Biggest Gainers in Federal Funds for Academic Research and Development” from 2000 to 2007.

• Securing more than $6.9 million for research projects in the four major focus areas supported by West Virginia’s Research Trust Fund, which matches private investment in research critical to our state’s and nation’s future.

• Securing 43 awards totaling $14.6 million for projects fighting cancer, improving energy efficiency, securing infrastructure advancements, and many other critical issues from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or “stimulus fund.”

• Completing more than $50 million in capital improvements, including the opening of a new Honors College residence hall, an intermodal transportation facility, and a Child Learning Center for children of WVU students and employees. In addition, another $68 million has been approved for future capital investments.

• Adding to our leadership team, including our new chancellor for health sciences, Dr. Christopher Colenda, who will help our health sciences enterprise achieve a new level of national competitiveness and success; and our new provost, Dr. Michele Wheatly, who brings to her role three decades of research scholarship, with extensive experience in strategic planning and budgeting.

• Maintaining a stellar academic environment that encourages students to compete and earn some of the nation’s most prestigious scholarships such as the Goldwater, Truman, Boren, and Department of Homeland Security awards. Emily Calandrelli, a senior in mechanical and aerospace engineering, is an example of one of WVU’s academic all-stars. She earned a Truman in 2008, received a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in 2009, and was named to the USA Today All-USA College Academic First Team in 2009.

• Being inspired by outstanding faculty scholars who give their students individual attention and open their minds to new ideas. Recently, Dr. Ruth Kershner became the 17th WVU faculty member to be named West Virginia’s Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching – the country’s premier undergraduate teaching award.

• Attracting talented new faculty members who bring to the University millions of nationally competitive grants — people like Dr. Michael Shi, assistant professor of chemistry, who received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award worth $550,000 for his research. His work could be instrumental in advancing drug design, fine chemical production, and new material synthesis.

• Partnering with three industry-led teams that include WVU, Carnegie Mellon University, Penn State, Pitt, and Virginia Tech to provide research and engineering services to the National Energy Technology Laboratory. The collective value of the three DOE-funded contracts is expected to exceed $465 million over five-years. URS Corp., Booz Allen Hamilton, and KeyLogic Systems are the prime contractors.

• Knowing that WVU Hospitals are delivering the highest level of care as evidenced by once again achieving the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet award for excellence in nursing services – the first and only hospital in West Virginia to achieve such recognition. Similarly, WVU’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center continues to receive the highest ratings by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. The program recently garnered a full three-year accreditation with commendation.

• Reaching some 77,600 youth, or approximately 1 in 4 children in West Virginia, through WVU Extension’s 4-H program.

• Coming together – WVU staff, parents, and students—to clean up and revitalize Morgantown during annual Parents Weekend – just one of many examples of the civic outreach that staff engage in every day.

• Fielding an athletic program that helps student-athletes succeed both on the playing fields and in the classroom. This year, football player Reed Williams received the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award – he was one of just 16 players nationwide from all divisions of college football to be honored. Women’s soccer player Chelsey Corroto was named to the ESPN Magazine’s Academic All-District team. The WVU women’s cross country team finished in the Top 10 in collective grade-point average among Division I teams, and women’s track had the top GPA in the nation for its sport. The 9-4 Mountaineer football team had the highest GPA in the Big East Conference and was recognized as one of 39 football teams with a 75% or higher graduation rate.

• Watching our alumni accomplish great things, such as Irene Berger, who has two degrees from WVU and was just installed as a U.S. federal judge — the first African American judge to serve on the federal bench in West Virginia. WVU Board of Governors member Dr. Charles M. Vest, president emeritus of MIT and current president of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, was inducted into the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Another WVU engineering graduate, Dr. Henry Yang, chancellor of the University of California Santa Barbara, was also inducted.

• Earning the trust of donors to commit resources to WVU’s work even during tough economic times. During the past fiscal year, the WVU Foundation received $54.7 million in cash contributions and pledge payments – an increase over the previous year.

• Helping to drive Morgantown’s economic strength. This fall, Morgantown was named one of the 20 top college towns in the United States by the American Institute for Economic Research.

Looking ahead, I feel certain that we are well positioned to reach new pinnacles of achievement. In my State of the University address last fall, I set several goals, such as adding 100 new faculty lines over the next three years, upgrading technology on campus, improving our diversity and globalization, strengthening our impact in the state, attaining the Carnegie Foundation’s “Very High Research Activity” ranking, and improving student health and wellness.

We will chart a course toward fulfilling these and other goals as we develop a new strategic plan for the University through 2020. This plan will emerge from a shared vision of all those who care about WVU.

I encourage you to follow our strategic planning process, and all of our University’s activities, at our interactive news Web site, WVU Today: http://wvutoday.wvu.edu and on my Web site: http://president.wvu.edu.

Throughout the past year, people like you have advanced WVU’s mission and our global reputation for excellence. To each of you, I offer our community’s deepest thanks. Your continued support will help WVU grow in strength and prominence in the years to come.

Best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year.

James P. Clements, Ph.D.
President, West Virginia University