None of us would have predicted a year ago the unsteady waters we’re wading in right now as one global community.
Though COVID-19 has rattled the world – altering nearly every single aspect of our daily lives – we will emerge even grittier and as robust as ever when the dust settles.
Look at how we have nimbly navigated the landscape over the last several months: We settled into new environments and routines yet continued delivery high quality of education and impactful ideas and innovations that embody the character of the John Chambers College of Business and Economics.
And we accomplish this by facing forward. This is not a time to dwell on the negatives.
It reminds me of the story of Walt Disney.
One program that carried me through the pandemic was “The Imagineering Story,” a Disney+ documentary series on the history and evolution of Disney theme parks and attractions.
Facing hurdle after hurdle, Walt Disney and the Imagineers – the term for the team of illustrators, storytellers, engineers, architects, designers, frankly, everyone behind the scenes who makes the magic unfold – never lost sight of what’s coming ahead.
Much like the Imagineers, we, the Chambers College family, have strapped our seatbelts on and accelerated onward.
But also like Disney, we must not fool ourselves. There will be imperfections. There will be trials and errors. There will be criticisms.
When Walt Disney planned to build an amusement park that ultimately became Disneyland, he had his share of naysayers. They asked, “Why would you want to do that?” They equated his idea to a “dirty carnival.” Even his wife cast doubt on his theme park ambitions.
But what Walt Disney saw, no one else did. He kept the faith.
He created an epicenter that, most importantly, sparks happiness. Always striking a balance between the Imagineers creative and innovative minds and sound business strategies to build an inspiring vision.
We can learn from the Disney story, pandemic or not, as we share the spirit of innovation and producing life-lasting memories and projects.
Despite what 2020 threw at us, the Chambers College played starring roles in the biggest projects to be announced on campus and throughout the state.
Virgin Hyperloop decided to invest in West Virginia by committing to build a certification center on nearly 800 acres of land spanning Tucker and Grant counties. This sets the foundation for the future of transit and transportation that allows a trip from NYC to DC in 30 minutes. The Chambers College will help make that a reality.
Former Intuit executive Brad Smith and his wife Alys pledged a $25 million gift that will fund a statewide remote worker program at WVU that aims to leverage the Mountain State’s outdoor assets. The Chambers College joined the newly formed Outlook Economic Development Collaborative at WVU to help build the vision that was supported by the Smiths and will work to make it a reality.
And, of course, our modern marvel place of learning is waiting in the wings along Morgantown’s waterfront. We’re inching closer and closer to the opening of Reynolds Hall, made possible by people like you and the generosity of Bob and Laura Reynolds. The Chambers College will make that a reality.
Regardless of what life hurls at us next, remember to maintain the Imagineering spirit. Dream the big dream and make that a reality.
- Javier Reyes, Ph.D.
Milan Puskar Dean