Gee Right: Let Us Lead at WVU

Since the Nov. 8 presidential election, we Americans have expended much of our creative power in finding new ways to demonize those with whom we disagree. That has been true on both sides of the social and political chasm that separates us.

Much of the wailing and gnashing of teeth has been on college and university campuses. Ought we not be entitled to expect better from communities of learning and thought?

Yes, we should, believes West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee.

In a guest column we published on Sunday, Gee argues, as we put it in the headline, that we Americans need to “meet challenges with common sense (and) decency.”

As Gee points out, pressing issues face us as a people and those who represent us in government. They include inequality, the environment, education and a host of others.

Locked in a whirlwind of accusations based less on policy than personality, we are doing worse than failing to address the challenges that face us. Our failure to exercise common decency makes it impossible to put the common sense Gee recommends to work.

Gee, who also has served as president of Ohio State University and other major institutions, has an excellent reputation as a higher education leader.

He proposes now to make WVU a catalyst for converting our gut-level animosity into the energy needed to tackle our problems.

What can a university in a small, poverty-wracked state some Americans do not even understand is not governed from Richmond do in that regard?

Plenty, Gee believes: The current situation “presents us with a demand. That demand is to strip away the barnacles that have developed over this election system and reassert our university as a weaver that binds up wounds and presents ideas for change and then acts on those ideas.”

Precisely. In serving as Gee prescribes, WVU can do enormous good for West Virginia. The university also can serve as a model for other institutions in other states.

It will not be easy. But when has anything been easy for Mountain State residents?

It can happen if the WVU community is supported in the crusade suggested by Gee. So let us, as he put it, “lead and let us believe. And let us get to work in our small part of the world to turn it right-side up.”

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