In a State of the University address Monday, WVU President E. Gordon Gee announced the launch of a new program that he said will focus on strengthening the University’s role in education, healthcare and prosperity throughout the state.
The Purpose Institute, he said, will serve as a way to ensure all students and faculty find purpose on campus.
“If you want to come here just for ratings or rankings or prestige, please do not come here,” Gee said. “But if you want to come here because you have purpose in life and you want to make a difference, then there will be no better place to come. And that is really what the Purpose Institute is going to be.”
WVU is currently ranked 249th among national universities by the U.S. News and World Report.
“West Virginia University must become a purpose-driven leader in higher education,” Gee said. “At a time when resources are so limited, needs are so great, expectations are so high and threats are so significant, the University cannot afford complacency.”
Though the majority of Gee’s speech was spent discussing the Institute, few exact details about the program or what it strives to achieve was given.
Gee said the Institute will have a physical presence on campus but a location hasn’t been decided. He added that the University is considering the Evansdale Crossing.
When asked by a moderator, he declined to give an exact timeline for the project and said the University is moving “very swiftly” and will have something up and running “very soon.”
The Institute is a partnership with the Spence Group, a global strategic consulting and creative agency, and will provide an area on campus where students and faculty can focus on personal development as well as what benefits the state.
Courtney Spence is the founder and CEO of the Spence Group. According to her LinkedIn page, she has collaborated with organizations all over the world, including those in Cuba, Uganda, Cambodia and Haiti.
Gee said the Institute will shift the focus of higher education away from personal interest, such as university rankings, and towards the public interest of surrounding communities.
“And a lot of it is the fact that we have always felt that we've had a purpose that goes beyond ourselves,” Gee said. “Of course, we're a land grant university. And, by the very nature of being a land grant university, we have the responsibility to be a people's university.”