Towers Talk is a WVU podcast featuring Residence Hall Coordinators Angela Delfine-Mechler and Patrick O’Donnell. Each week, the hosts bring you an interview with different members of the WVU community to help you get adjusted to your new campus home!

Join Angela Delfine-Mechler and Patrick O'Donnell during the TTP Season Finale as they interview a very special guest, President Gordon Gee! President Gee will share about his experiences during the pandemic as college president, what some of his favorite hobbies were, and some words of wisdom with our first-year students! You won’t want to miss it!

Transcription:

Hi, everyone. Welcome back to another week of Towers Talk. I'm Angela. And I’m Patrick. Welcome back to our podcast. Towers Talk is brought to you by Lyon, Bennett and Braxton Towers. Towers. You can live anywhere when you're here, you're home. Right folks. Today we are joined by a very, very special guests on our long way to season finale of Towers Talk.

So we are so pleased to welcome President Gordon, gee, as our special guest today. Welcome President Gee. Wow. You choked me up. As a matter of fact, I haven't, I'm grateful to be here. Awesome. All right. So President gee, I know that many folks know your story, especially if they're listening to our podcast, but we generally start our podcast episodes by asking our guests to explain how they got their role at WVU.

So in light of that, would you be willing to share a brief overview of some of your past experiences and how you ended up at RMS? Okay. So I came here in 19 79, 78, 79 as Dean of the law school. And join university. Then I was, I was only Dean, a very short period of time. And my predecessor as President left to go to become the chancellor of the university of Kansas.

And I was selected as president of the university. And so I was here for five years as President and five years at the University of Colorado. And then seven years at Ohio State and three years at Brown and seven years at Vanderbilt and another seven years ago, Ohio State. And I actually retired and we were just moved to was dividing my time between Columbus and Boston, where I was teaching at Harvard.

And, and they asked me to come back and they asked me to come here to help out for 'em. For three months, as a matter of fact. And so I said, well, I can do that. And they're delighted to do so. And that was seven years ago. So either I tricked them or they tricked me, but it's been a wonderful seven years. I always tell everyone, I think he loved the place the most.

I loved you first. And I've always had such immense respect and immense opportunities here. And so I want to just make sure that I was able to take full advantage of it. Wonderful. Yeah, we, we couldn't agree more, WVU is a special place and you know, I think Patrick and I can agree that once you're called here, it's tough to, to leave.

And you just, you fall in love with the culture here. So thank you so much for sharing that. So this past year has been one of the toughest for many of us, especially in higher education. What were some of your greatest challenges as WVU President and how did you navigate those challenges? Wow. That's a great question.

You know you know, I've been a university President for 41 years and I have never, I've experienced everything. I haven't experienced floods and desolation and people taking over my office and all sorts of horrible things that I've never had. I've never experienced a pandemic. And so. I felt like a freshmen walking picket fence sign thrill, but in daydreaming in pal, because I, I didn't know quite how to do this thing, but what I feel about as the fact that we as university did better than most, in fact, we consistently performed with the very best in terms of keeping the institution open, keeping their students safe variety of those issues that I think were very critical for our students.

And we remained. A strong institution financially and culturally and socially. It's been tough on our students have been, it's been tough on all of us, but I think that without a doubt, it's been an immense writing experience. And I would say this too, to our students, you know, you all be able to remember that you spent a year in isolation and you survived.

And from that, you could learn. What lessons can be taught by that kind of a once in a lifetime, which we hope once in a lifetime experience. Wonderful. Absolutely. Couldn't agree more. Thank you. So when you look, you kind of touched on this already, but when you look back on this past year, what are you most proud of?

I think I'm most proud of the fact that our students, our faculty and our staff had a real resiliency to them. You know, I, I can honestly say I didn't receive a great deal of letters. I didn't hear a lot of whining and complaining and I heard everyone. Trying to put their best foot forward.

And I think that people were supporting each other. I think that we really do have a great community culture. And I think that we have a very supportive a very supportive environment in which each, each individual is really concerned about those close to them and about making sure that the institution itself is doing well.

Wonderful. So y'all know self-care is very important. How did you personally practice self-care during this past year as we navigated the pandemic? And what were your, some of your favorite hobbies? Did you get an, a tiger king? Did you start making bread? What, what, how did you navigate this? Yeah, first of all, I live by somebody, the students say I live right next to Towers.

I live in university residence, so I was. I was in some ways in the same isolation model in our students who are obviously, you know, they are required to wear a mask. I didn't, I really spent about 15 months with that travel, which was highly unusual for me. And I spent most of that time In splendid isolation because you know, it's a beautiful home and I feel privileged to live there, but I also took care of myself.

I mean, I exercise regularly every day. I would make sure that I took good care of the way that I ate and certainly followed all the protocols in terms of masks, wary and distancing and , and Washington. So I feel like it was it was an experience that at least I navigated very well.

The thing of course, that I miss the most is that miss the human contact. And one of the reasons I'm so delighted to live next to the Towers is I can go down and visit with people and, and have a chance to connect. And, and I would do that once in a while mask. In hand. But you know I'm, I'm, I'm in that vulnerable age group in which everyone's concerned at the initial about people in my age group in terms of contacting the virus.

So I was steady and thoughtful about how I approached the daily living as a matter of fact and, and by the way, let me just add one other thing, but I, you know, I am not television watcher. I grew up not any access to television because I lived in a very small town and then there was no television available.

And so I've ever been a television watcher, but I must say that I started discovering some of this streaming stuff. And so it was kind of fun to be able to watch, you know, home and the Americans. You know, a number of the number of the streaming programs that I found, very interesting sheets Creek life I laugh.

I've probably watched you about four or five times. I have never laughed so hard in my mind. So I brought an old new dimension into my life, which I probably am going to. Great. Wonderful. Well, you know, we missed seeing you around Towers and, and hopefully there, there are better days to come this fall semester and you know, we can get a little bit back to normal you know, during all of this.

So things are going to be back to normal. We're gonna have, we're going to have a good time. For me, it's going to be like getting out of prison and not wait to have students return to campus. I can't wait to see those powers fill up with brand new freshmen who are going to be excited about being at university, anybody to be excited about being out of their mother's based on, I think also absolutely.

Okay. So our next question for you is we've all been supported by some of the greatest colleagues and community members during this challenging last year. Right. Is there anyone that you want to personally recognize that support you for the, for the most part of doing this last year? Well, yes. I mean, the team that works at the university and university Presidents office, there are Seven or eight people who just made my life so much more, more tolerable.

And you know, rather than the name, though, I have to say that I've got this group of people that surround me and support me and are so cheerful. The people who work at the university of residence. Take great care of me. And then you know, our, our provost, our vice-Presidents all of them did their duties from their homes.

They were doing the and they were following the protocols also, but, but the very fact that they were able to do what they did and do it virtually is nothing close. That's a shorter being a miracle. Wonderful. Thank you. So we end all of our tower's talk podcast episodes by asking the same question.

And we'd love to hear insight. So, President gee, what is one piece of advice you wish to share with our first year students here at WVU? Be yourself. Be grateful that you, that, that you have such talent and use your talent to, to be able to grow and, and flourish and obviously to make the university better.

But I, I tend to think that in today's world of social media, And all those attended issues that what happens with our students is they tend to think that they are defined by someone else defining themselves. And I believe it's immensely important for every student to know that we're grateful to have them here and want them to.

Be who they are rather than who other people are defining them as. And so be yourself, make kids, you know, work smart, play smart, take advantage of this university. We have, we have so many different opportunities. We have over 500 student groups. So I, I, I think that this is a remarkable time to be at a great university.

And the only thing is, is don't hide out. Find your place and make it your, and then make this your place also. Awesome. Thank you so much. That was great. Great advice for our first year students. So President gate, the last thing we have for you is, are there any closing words, do you wish to share with all of our tower's talk podcast list?

Yes, I am. I missed you. Get back here. I need to have you here so that we can all have we can all have a fun time together. You know, collegiate life is meant to not be socially distanced by that to be socially engaged. And so hopefully we'll be able to do that and then be able to enjoy each other, be able to go to concerts and be able to go to musical theater and be able to go to football games and basketball games and be able to make certain and ride the PRT.

And it'll be great to have that thing up and running again. And so let's take, let let's realize what we missed in order to be able to take joy in what we have. Absolutely could not agree more. So that's a wrap, everyone. Thank you all so much for joining us this week. And thank you President geek for your time today.

It was such an honor to have you. Thank you. Thank you. And it's an honor to be with you. That's all for this year. Folks, please join us in the fall of 2021. As we returned for another season of tower stalks podcast, we wouldn't have made it to this point without your support. So thank you all for wonderful year.

Thank you.