I am finishing my sixth week at WVU. In some ways, it seems like six months.

Someone asked me yesterday what I was most surprised about in coming back to WVU and what I had learned.

Here is what I said:

I am taken aback by the stunning talent I have found here.

I went on to say, I learned the foundational goodness that was here in 1985, the year I graduated from medical school, is still here today. I also said that the biggest gap I see at WVU – and in the state – is that some of us do not really believe that we can Go First and be one of the healthiest states and with some of the healthiest citizens.

We can. Because we have stunning talent.

The famous Netflix talent culture slide deck says that great workplaces are made up of employees with stunning talent.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to go to the WVU faculty and staff awards dinner. What did I find there?

Stunning talent.

Terrific faculty and staff serving our students and our state with distinction and with recognition that is national and international.

Two of our own Health Sciences stars, Dr. Ann Chester and Dr. James Simpkins, were among the honorees.

Dr Ann ChesterDr James Simpkins

But the stunning talent is not just at the Health Science Center; it's across the University. And from the travels I have done, throughout the state.

So, West Virginia University and West Virginia, with our stunning talent, pure purpose, and commitment of service: We can Go First.

Flipping from some of the worst health metrics to the best? Yes.

Lighting the way for everyone else as a beacon state? Yes.

The famous macroeconomist Jeffrey Sachs tells us that to reset failing economies, one needs to solve the healthcare problems of the place. While he was talking about countries, I believe the same goes for states. Better health benefits us at the citizen level and at the state level – economics, productivity, and brand identity.

As the state’s land grant university, I submit that it is our responsibility to Go First and serve our state’s citizens for all of the right reasons.

It is our choice.