WVU President Calls Rioting ‘Inexcusable’

West Virginia University President James Clements on Monday used his annual State of the University speech to address “inexcusable” actions in Morgantown following WVU’s win Saturday over Texas.

“The worst of the post-game behavior … was completely unacceptable, dangerous and inexcusable,” Clements told WVU’s Faculty Assembly. “We cannot and will not tolerate it. These actions are dangerous. And, they diminish the successes of our students, faculty, staff and alumni.”

Following the football team’s victory over Texas, a crowd of about 1,000 people gathered in the Sunnyside area of Morgantown, dozens of fires were set and police and firefighters were pelted with bricks and bottles.

“I am angry and frustrated,” Clements said. “I want you to know, the university is taking immediate action to identify and discipline any students involved.”

Clements promised WVU would “take a hard line on this kind of behavior,” increasing efforts in alcohol education and enforcement, increasing security presence and use of surveillance cameras and strengthening expulsion and student discipline policies.

Clements then turned to the achievements of the past year, one he said was marked by many game-changing milestones.

Clements reminded the Faculty Assembly of the year that was: The 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act; record-breaking private giving; research achievements; enrollment records; additions to WVU’s legacy of national and international scholars; continued recognition for WVU in national rankings; and a grand entrance into the Big 12 Conference.

“This reasserts who we are as Mountaineers,” Clements said. “We strive to be the best at everything we do – and we do it with the highest level of quality … nothing less.”

Clements outlined several new initiatives for WVU. In academics, a new program – the University College – will support students who have not yet declared a major.

Clements also discussed the “Mountains of Excellence” initiative. Recently, the university’s academic deans defined “Mountains of Excellence” for strategic investment in research areas where they see potential for growth and substantial return on the university’s investment.

The initial “Mountains of Excellence” are:

– Achieving international leadership in radio astronomy

– Utilizing shale gas

– Promoting stewardship of water resources

– Improving STEM education and scientific literacy

– Eliminating health disparities in Appalachia

“All these areas are existing strengths at WVU,” Clements said. “All of them address significant challenges facing society – and our land-grant mission demands that we are a part of addressing exactly such challenges.”

In line with the “Mountains of Excellence” initiative, WVU will add faculty positions across campus, Clements said.

The year also saw several health initiatives that not only enhance the learning environments of students and faculty, but also benefit the overall well-being of the state, Clements added.

In addressing Appalachian health disparities, the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute received a $19.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to address the health issues that most commonly affect West Virginians. Other state educational and health care entities have committed $33.5 million to the institute, for a total of $53.1 million over the next five years.

This project involves not only each of the Health Sciences schools, but also the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, College of Human Resources and Education, Business and Economics and the P.I. Reed School of Journalism.

“The institute … will save lives and provide West Virginia residents with real solutions for our biggest health problems,” Clements said. “This year we will invest in four new faculty positions across multiple colleges to advance awareness and understanding of health and exercise.”

Still, there is work to be done, Clements said.

Fulfilling the “State of Minds” campaign is critical to WVU’s future health, he added.

“The goal for this campaign, being led by the WVU Foundation, is ambitious but necessary for our future success: $750 million dollars – which is triple the goal of the last campaign – but it is necessary for our success,” Clements said. “I am confident that the Mountaineer family will once again pull through and push us beyond the finish line.”