WVU President E. Gordon Gee visited Wyoming County on Tuesday, reading to children and talking about the university’s need to better serve southern West Virginia.
Gee started the morning with a trip to Energy Express at Herndon Consolidated School.
He was accompanied by other WVU officials and university students.
Savannah Lusk, a Wyoming East graduate who received a Foundation Scholarship to WVU last year, was on hand as well.
Serveral children at HCS wore bow ties, a nod to Gee’s signature clothing item.
He read a book, “Living Life in West Virginia,”to the children and asked them questions.
Energy Express, which is backed by WVU, is a summer program which enables children to keep their reading skills sharp during the break. Math was added to the program this year.
Games, art and guest readers are also part of the program.
“It really means a lot to get attention in southern West Virginia from WVU,” said Leslie Garretson, site coordinator for EE at Herndon.
“(Gee) really knows about Energy Express,” Garretson said.
Gee also sang “Country Roads” with the children.
His next stop was at the Second Street Restaurant in Mullens, where about 40 people heard him talk about plans for the new WVU Beckley campus (formerly the campus of Mountain State). It is expected to open in fall 2016.
Gee also visited The Way Youth Center in Mullens.
In an interview, Gee said he likes traveling around the West Virginia “to tell the story of the state and the story of the university. You can’t do that sitting in an office.
“I want to learn about what we can do (to help),” he commented.
Gee said he is excited about the Beckley campus. “We weren’t serving this part of the state very well,” he stated.
The university has strong ties to West Virginia residents, Gee noted.
“Even if they didn’t graduate from here or have never been on campus, people in the state have more powerful ties to the university (than in other places),” he noted. “The flying WV is everywhere.”
He called Energy Express “a fabulous program which makes such a difference for young children.
“I love the energy you get (when reading to children),” Gee commented. “They are so wide-eyed and expressive.
“I want the people of Wyoming County to know the university is there for them.”
John Conley can be reached at 304-732-6060 or on Twitter @PIHnews.