WVU president talks W.Va., Boy Scouts
WHEELING — The current leaders of the Boys Scouts of America were educated in West Virginia, and the group’s future top executives likely will be graduates of West Virginia University, according to WVU President E. Gordon Gee.
Gee served as keynote speaker for Ohio River Valley Council Boy Scouts of America Partnership Dinner Thursday night at Oglebay Park’s Wilson Lodge. About 220 were in attendance, according to organizers.
Gee is a member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America, and he touted the strong relationship between West Virginia and the Boy Scouts.
The organization’s top three executive all are graduates of the former Salem College — which previously had a program to train Boy Scout executives, according to Gee.
WVU is now partnering with the Boy Scouts, and Gee suggested to the board that the program be re-created at WVU.
This will allow the state and university to take full advantage of the Summit Bechtel Reserve — the Boy Scouts’ national scouting center — located near Beckley. At 14,000 acres, it is the largest outdoor recreation center in the nation, Gee said.
“We’re now the official institution for scouting in this country,” he told those present. “We don’t just have the scouting program, but we’ve created a program for that great outdoor recreation center. We can do so many wonderful things.
“West Virginia and Ohio and this part of the world need to assert themselves, and I think this is very important.”
Gee and St. Clairsville resident Robert E. Murray — who serves as chairman, president and CEO of Murray Energy — are among 13 people slated to receive the Boy Scout’s Silver Buffalo Award next month in Denver. It is presented to those demonstrating “noteworthy and extraordinary service to youth on a national basis, either as part of, or independent of the Scouting program.”
Murray also was present at the dinner Thursday, and both he and Gee received recognition and a thank you award from local scouts for their service.
Gee said that, as a youngster growing up in the small town of Vernal, Utah, he became involved in scouting as there was very little recreation in the community. The only swimming pool was at a hotel owned by his scout master, and it was there he achieved his Eagle Scout designation on the last day the pool was open before being permanently closed.
“I think my dad may have bought my Eagle Scout badge,” Gee said jokingly.
He also admitted he doesn’t share the Boy Scout’s usual affinity for living outdoors.
“My idea of camping is the Four Seasons,” Gee said.