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Why Purpose at WVU?

President Gordon Gee introduced the concept of including purpose as our fourth pillar at his State of the University address in October 2021. While many institutions and corporations are now talking about purpose, it is something we have been talking about at West Virginia University for a very long time. We are not just an institution of higher learning. We are an institution of higher purpose. And collectively, we can use that purpose to nurture potential.

Why do we need a Purpose Center?

WVU is looking to determine what students and their families expect from higher education post-pandemic. Right now, there is concern about the college-going rate, the value of higher education and the return on investment. Not only does higher education need to reclaim the trust of students and their families, it needs to demonstrate how higher education makes a difference in people’s lives.

Education isn’t just about pursuing a major. It’s about pursuing the path you want to be on for a lifetime. It’s about getting to know who you are and what you want to do with your life. The Purpose Center will help each student explore their interests and strengths to create a personalized, educational experience that leads to student success and a lifelong pursuit of their passion. This center will not replace current programming or offices. Rather, it will bring together resources, programs and initiatives under one umbrella providing easier access for all. The Purpose Center will serve as a place of exploration and connection.

Is the Center replacing current resources?

No. This effort will not replace but bring together university resources. Consider it a concierge that will connect people with the experts we have across the campus system. We want the center to be a space that integrates purpose into academics, student life, health and wellness, and careers to create a wholistic experience that helps individuals discover and pursue those things that matter most to them.

Will there be a physical location for the Center?

Yes. A Purpose Center will be located on the third floor of Evansdale Crossing next to the Evansdale WVU Visitors Center. While there currently is no physical location, our team is happy to travel to campus partners.

What is the timeline for this project?

This is a multi-faceted project that will roll out in phases. In phase one, we are addressing the student experience. However, the Center will be a space that serves the entire WVU community. Faculty, staff, alumni and community engagement will follow in later phases. Ultimately, the project will continue each year, evolving in ways that best serve our students and our campus community.

What is the Purpose Council?

The Purpose Council was a group of leaders from across the University who helped develop the integration of purpose into the daily life of the University and those who study and work here. The team created short-term and long-term objectives for the project and the Purpose Center. This group met from October 2021 through the launch of the Purpose Center in fall of 2022.

What are the work groups?

Within the Purpose Council, there are several work groups that address key areas including Academics, Alumni, Finances, Health and Wellbeing, Marketing and Communications, Prospective Student Programming, Retention Student Programming and Physical Space. Working groups are comprised of people from across the University providing unique perspectives and insights as the initiative is developed. The working groups are voluntary. If you are interested in joining one, email

How does the Purpose Center differ from / work with Career Services?

We see the Purpose Center as an opportunity to lay the foundation for and enhance career services work. We see many students who feel lost because they are undecided or are looking to change their major but have no idea what to do next. By helping students through self-discovery, we can connect them to resources, encourage them to explore majors and career outcomes and then direct them to academic advisors and career specialists for more productive and engaging meetings that will ultimately help them identify how to achieve a fulfilling career and life.

Research shows 97% of employers have indicated that essential (also often referred to as soft) skills are either as important or more important than hard skills. The WVU Purpose Center helps students understand what their essential skills are and helps them find ways they can use them every day. Our workshops are designed to help the WVU community reflect on their natural talents and abilities and how to use them to make an impact on the world around them.

We seek partnerships with WVU career services because they have the tools to help students make their purpose a reality. WVU Career Services can help the WVU community by understanding the professional standards of their chosen industry, create professional documentation, link them to open jobs and internships, and provide opportunities to interact with employers. Together we can help students find their career purpose earlier in their student journey by focusing on who they are and the impact they want to have on the world. The WVU Purpose Center is the WHY and Career Services is the HOW.

How does the Purpose Center work with Project 168?

The Purpose Center works with Project 168 staff to create material and content that meet elective and core objectives for Project 168 curriculum. Purpose Center workshops and content primarily serve the “sense of self” and “leadership” objectives. The Purpose Center also provides strengths codes to Project 168 participants which is required to complete the co-curricular program.

How can Purpose and Strengths work help build essential skills?

The self-discovery, self-awareness, and strengths work through the Purpose Center helps students build essential skills such as communication, conflict resolution, leadership, professionalism, and resilience by leveraging the things they’re naturally good at. Research shows 97% of employers have indicated that essential (also often referred to as soft) skills are either as important or more important than hard skills.

What is the difference between purpose and strengths?

Purpose is a process of self-discovery through reflection, awareness, experiences and opportunities. Tools like CliftonStrengths® can help you create self-awareness by understanding more about your natural patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviors, reflect on where you’re currently at, and help you apply the things you’re naturally good at in a variety of ways to reach your goals. Much like purpose, strengths can be applied to academics, career, essential skills, leadership, and wellbeing. While Purpose work is not the same as strengths work, they can partner together to create a broader impact and help you be more effective. Purpose is the why, strengths can be the how.

How can I get involved to help?

There are many ways to get involved with the WVU Purpose Center. To discuss options, email to get started.