West Virginia University (WVU) is undergoing a vast transition from in-person to virtual classes and more. COVID-19 instills change and there are many moving pieces and personnel to help make this transition run smoothly.
David Alvarez, Vice-Chair of the West Virginia University Board of Governors, provided the listeners of Positively WV with an update on how the university is managing this transition.
Alvarez is a distinguished and recognized owner, business leader and established serial entrepreneur who remains highly active in development, industry and community work.
Alvarez currently serves as Board Chairman of MVB Financial Corp. which includes:
- MVB Bank, Inc.
- MVB Mortgage
- MVB Community Development Corporation
THE LATEST INFORMATION ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY
What can West Virginia businesses do – right now – to survive this current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic situation we're all facing today?
"Let's talk about President Gee - He's out with the kids, out with the faculty. He's out with donors. He's mastered that. He's a Zoom artist now. I get to do Zoom calls with him and he's done a great job of reaching out to incoming freshmen and reaching out to grad students. All across the board, he's such a great leader and I've learned so much from him every day.
When I look at the university, I mean, we're one of the flagships of the state. We're so fortunate to have such a great leadership team up there. When you look at the inner circle surrounding Gordon and what they've done to convert the university to an online experience.
I actually have a university student who works in my office part-time who's taking a test right now. I asked, 'What are you doing to start this call,' and he said, 'I'm getting ready to do an exam for my accounting class.'
So, when you think about those, we had to do some neat stuff. When I say neat, I mean it's a little stressful," said Alvarez.
Alvarez mentioned the beginning of the university's lockdown around the time students when on spring break.
"Our staff was quick to get 300 hot spots from a local cellular vendor. So that anybody who needed service, if they asked, we were there to try and meet their needs.
So, is it challenging? It's been really hard on the professors. They have to work extra hard, and we so much appreciate what they're doing—having to take care of the operations in a different manner. It's such a great group of folks who've come together and have shown great leadership," said Alvarez.
As a member of WVU's Mountaineer Athletic Club, Alvarez helped form a partnership among the WVU Athletic Department, the FBI CJIS Division and the American Football Coaches Association. This partnership has resulted in the distribution of hundreds of thousands of Child ID Kits at WVU football games and many other college venues over the past several years.
"We have such a great team. We have international students from all over the world on campus. Some got stuck at home; some weren't able to leave for spring break. We have some living on campus that the university has to step up and take care of.
Our student-athletes, they're so well-disciplined with a regime to follow... We're all in the same boat - we don't really know what tomorrow brings but we've got to believe that if we manage to do the right thing, we'll get to tomorrow in a positive manner," said Alvarez.
TRANSITIONING TO A VIRTUAL UNIVERSITY
"There was a lot of planning. The business community came in and helped bring that together. I know we had to add some additional bandwidth. Overall, we've had minimal complaints. I do hear a definite strong message. We can't wait to get back to Morgantown and be part of the campus. Transitioning to an online reality sounds great, but at the end of the day, it's nothing like the experience you get being socially together, growing together and meeting the different cultures. We still believe strongly that the university model is going to be important with those nice bricks and mortars and the things we have with campus experience.
Athletics-wise - it's very well respected in the national sports community. I will tell you they're putting all the scenarios together, but until we really know, it's hard to plan. It's only speculating, and we're all speculating with each day that goes by," said Alvarez.
Alvarez founded and grew numerous successful companies that continue to benefit North Central West Virginia, Southwestern Pennsylvania and Northern Virginia. Now, these companies employ over 700 people. Alvarez's' present companies include:
- Applied Construction Solutions
- Applied Home Solutions
- East Pointe Auto Spa
- Elite Mid-Stream, LLC
- Energy Transportation, LLC
- Enviro-Energy Solutions, LLC
- Energy Resource Group, LLC
- Quantum Environmental, LLC
Additionally, Alvarez is also a principal partner with Bear Contracting, LLC and The Wonder Bar Steak House, located in Bridgeport, West Virginia.
Listen to the full podcast here.