From Down the Hall: December 2023

The end of another calendar year marks a busy time of making holiday plans, enjoying Mountaineer sports as they enter into championship season, traveling to a football bowl game (this year we’re off to Charlotte for the Duke’s Mayo Bowl!), setting goals for the following year, and, of course, Spotify Wrapped. As we approach the end of 2023, I find myself reflecting on the incredible journey we’ve shared as a community. We’ve had a year filled with exciting events, meaningful connections and countless reasons to express our gratitude. 

As we close out the year, we almost always look ahead to what’s next: creating new moments for our alumni, curating events and connections for Mountaineers near and far, and providing pathways for alumni to find their way home to Morgantown for events like the Academy of Distinguished Alumni, Homecoming and many others. 

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From Down the Hall: November 2023

As we are entering the final weeks of the fall semester and the 2023 WVU Football season, I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude, appreciation, and humility when reflecting on the extraordinary success of our recent Homecoming week celebration. Our beloved alma mater has always held a special place in our hearts, and this year's Homecoming festivities served as a poignant reminder of the unique connections and cherished memories that continue to bind us together. 

I’ve had the honor and privilege to have experienced WVU Homecoming celebrations throughout the years, and I must say, Homecoming 2023 was unparalleled. In this recap, I’ll delve into all of the reasons why this year stood out, and if you’re an alum who’s considering a trip back to Morgantown for Homecoming, I wholeheartedly urge you to come back home and join us next year. While the Homecoming football game is always a highlight, the week was filled with events and activities that brought together the alumni community to celebrate our Mountaineer traditions. I extend my sincere gratitude to all of our University partners and friends who contributed to making Homecoming 2023 special. For those of you who couldn’t make it back to campus, I’d love to share several highlights of the week.

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From Down the Hall: October 2023

As the leaves are starting to show hints of the fall foliage season to come here in West Virginia, I am thrilled to welcome you all back to campus in a few short weeks for Homecoming 2023. This year is incredibly special as we celebrate not only our cherished Mountaineer traditions, but also the 150th anniversary of our beloved Alumni Association. It's a time for us to reconnect, reminisce, and revel in the enduring spirit of West Virginia University.

Throughout the decades, the WVU Alumni Association has played a pivotal role in fostering a sense of belonging and pride among graduates. It's a legacy that has endured the test of time, growing stronger with each passing year. For a century and a half, the Alumni Association has been a steadfast advocate for our alumni and their alma mater, supporting the University in countless ways.

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From Down the Hall: September 2023

As summer winds down and the sunsets in Morgantown once again paint the sky in golden yellows, pinks and purples, letting us know that fall is not far away, a familiar buzz of excitement envelops our campus once again. The time-honored tradition of college students returning to campus has arrived, and with it comes a palpable energy. The smiles on the faces of students walking across the Downtown Campus to class, the earnest conversations that flow in the Evansdale Crossing, and the reunion of friends on the Mountainlair green are the sights and sounds that make this time of year very special. For us alumni, the return of students is a poignant reminder of our own journeys as college students. We see ourselves in their excitement, aspirations, and wonder. It's heartening to witness their curiosity, as they carry forward the traditions that have been passed on by others, and for those of us on campus and beyond, it is a season filled with opportunities to share the experiences that define all of us as Mountaineers.

One of the best introductions for our new students to some of our favorite traditions is through Monday Night Lights, an event that began in 2015. Held annually at Milan Puskar Stadium during Welcome Week, it has become a symbolic moment of transition into the WVU community. The event brings out special guests that share their passion for WVU, and includes appearances by the Mountaineer Mascot, Pride of West Virginia, and the WVU Cheer team to kickoff the Mountaineer journeys of the newest members of our campus community. I’m sure you remember the first time you heard  “Let’s Go”, followed by someone responding “Mountaineers,” watched the Pride of West Virginia’s pre-game performance, sang Country Roads locked arm in arm swaying with others, or joined in the call of first down at the stadium.  It’s a special moment to witness when others experience these traditions for the first time themselves. To cap off the evening, first-year students make their way onto the field to participate in one of our newer traditions, taking a class picture inside the Marching Band’s outline of the State of West Virginia, forever memorializing their initial days as Mountaineers. 

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From Down the Hall August 2023

I absolutely love the beginning of classes. Don’t get me wrong, you never want to wish your summer away, but as the calendar turns to the month of August, you can’t help but feel the level of energy and excitement rise in Morgantown as we begin welcoming our students back for the fall semester. For our returning students, it means reuniting with friends and classmates as they continue their journey to becoming WVU alumni. For first-year students, it is the beginning of a new and important chapter in their lives. It starts with move-in weekend and continues through Welcome Week and the first days of navigating the buildings and conquering the many steps of the Downtown and Evansdale campuses. Don’t worry, I promise you’ll eventually get used to it!

To this day, when I recall the moments I experienced during move-in weekend and the first few weeks of classes, the feeling of excitement and anticipation I felt as an eighteen-year-old freshman, return. I’m sure many of our alumni can relate. There’s something about that first week on campus that you’ll never forget or experience again during your college days and beyond. The energy and the feeling of adventure forever influences our fond recollections of the first days as a college student. 

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From Down the Hall: July 2023

As I mentioned in last month’s entry, summer session has begun on campus and while things are quieter and traffic is thinner on the streets of Morgantown, our WVU Alumni Association team has entered our busy months supporting alumni chapters and interest groups in communities near you. Last month, we had the pleasure of hosting volunteer leaders from around the country at the Alumni Leaders Institute (ALI). We were more than excited to welcome them back to campus for this three-day event, packed with information about campus happenings, best practices for connecting with Mountaineers in their areas, and getting to know each other better in an in-person capacity. Due to the pandemic, the program had been postponed and moved to a virtual setting the last several years. We valued that virtual engagement, but there is nothing like having our leaders on campus reconnecting with our campus and each other.

It is inspiring to meet with dedicated longtime leaders continuing their mission of connecting Mountaineers and energetic new ones that have ambitious plans for their communities. They do such an incredible job representing our University by providing opportunities for engagement, supporting current students and spreading the word about world-changing initiatives taking place at their alma mater.

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From Down the Hall: June 2023

For any of you who may have taken a summer class as a student, served in an internship or worked a summer job in Morgantown, I think you will agree that things are generally quieter during the next few months, with the majority of our students off-campus over the summer. We recently posted an image on the WVU Alumni Association Instagram account from 1981 that I thought captured the overall “feel” of living in Morgantown, as a student, during summertime. Depending on when you attended, you may also remember Sunnyside looking like this during your days on-campus.

Old photo of High St. in Morgantown

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From Down the Hall: May 2023

The spring semester is drawing to a close here in Morgantown, and our campuses have come alive again in color with budding trees, green grass and blooming flowers from Downtown to Evansdale and over to the Health Sciences campus. As the chilly weather has given way to warmer days and sunny skies, everyone here at the WVU Alumni Association is looking forward to joining family and friends in celebrating the Class of 2023 during next week’s Commencement ceremonies. 

Commencement has always been one of my favorite times during the academic year, with endless opportunities for celebration, tradition, and reflection. I look forward to welcoming a new class of West Virginia University alumni to our family of over 200,000 alumni. We share a special bond that is present in the moments when we see someone wearing a WVU shirt in an airport and shout, “Let’s go,” to hear them respond with, “Mountaineers!” or when we sing Country Roads together at a wedding or in a pub abroad. Or the moment we celebrate the birth of a child with a WVU onesie and when we proudly display the Flying WV outside our home or apartment. No matter how far we venture from Morgantown, WVU is a part of us.

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From Down the Hall: April 2023

Let me start this message with a sincere thank you to our alumni and friends who took the time to support our mission on the WVU Day of Giving. There's no denying WVU alumni are some of the most enthusiastic, driven and thoughtful people in the country.  Time and time again, we see how our alumni base comes together to support the institution we value so future generations can achieve the dream of a life-changing West Virginia University education. We know the appreciation and pride that is felt for our alma mater, but we were blown away by the support the Alumni Association and the greater University received on WVU’s sixth annual Day of Giving on March 22. You all went above and beyond! 

This year's Day of Giving surpassed previous records. Thanks to alumni like you, we received over $422,000 from 455 gifts for the WVU Alumni Association alone. Both totals demonstrate the strong commitment and loyalty of the WVU alumni community. Additionally, WVU as a whole received over $18 million dollars from over 8,200 gifts, which will help support initiatives that benefit students, faculty, and in turn, our local community and state.

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From Down the Hall: March 2023

As March rolls around, many Mountaineers fans reminisce about some of the unbelievable WVU basketball moments shared over the years. There’s a special kind of build-up as it turns from the regular season to the Big XII and NCAA Tournaments. March Madness can be a roller coaster ride of emotions with the twists and turns that are a part of win-or-go-home basketball.  As a lifelong Mountaineer, I’ve been lucky enough to witness some truly unforgettable moments - ranging from exhilarating victories to heartbreaking defeats. There’s never a dull moment when you root for the old gold and blue.

I hope this month’s From Down the Hall reminds you of shared moments our student-athletes have created that have become a part of our University’s storied history. Although younger alumni and fans may not recall our days in the Big East Conference, I’m certain many have heard retellings from fellow Mountaineers who witnessed the action firsthand. That’s where I’m going to begin.

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