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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?

As the University emerges from the past two years, WVU is looking forward 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.

How will the center benefit the WVU community as a whole?

Research shows that individuals with a higher sense of purpose also have a higher overall sense of well-being. The vision is to create a space that embodies the spirit and culture of WVU while providing the resources and information people need to pursue their passions. It will be a place of collaboration where current students, faculty, staff and alumni can engage to further define their purpose in their work, studies or life. Prospective students, faculty and staff members will be able to explore what it means to be a part of the WVU community and how our university can help them pursue their dreams. And it is a place where alumni can reconnect to share their paths to purpose or find resources to carve a new one. It will bring together the myriad of resources and experts we have across our University system.

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. We hope to open sometime this fall.

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 is a group of leaders from across the University who will help develop the integration of purpose into the daily life of the University and those who study and work here. The team has created short-term and long-term objectives for the project and the Purpose Center. This group has been meeting since October 2021.

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

What is the Spence Partnership?

WVU has been consulting with the Spence Group on this project. The University continues to meet with the Spence Group to develop a Purpose Statement for the Univeristy as well as a 2030 vision plan.