Welch had the piece made from some rock left over from one of UC's recent building projects, and said it serves as a constant reminder for him and his staff that things — and institutions — have to grow and change with time.
"That's something I've learned here," Welch said.
When he came on as president 25 years ago, UC was a small private school with one campus, no football team and a no plan for major capital improvements.
At first, Welch was on board with all of that, but as the times changed, so did his mind. When he wanted to bring more males to campus he brought on the football team. To increase enrollment he built dorms.
And when UC had an opportunity to take over operations for Mountain State University last year, Welch saw an opportunity to beef up the school's offerings online and for nontraditional students.
Now, UC doesn't just exist across the Kanawha River from the state Capitol. There's also a campus in Beckley and a significant online presence.
That's changed the school in some important ways, but Welch said it's in keeping with the school's core goals, and doesn't significantly change the college experience for most students at UC.
"A student coming to UC Charleston has the same experience that they would have had five years ago, and that's great," he said. "But now in addition to that, we have an online program and some students in Beckley and a large group of students who are commuting . . . and that's an added plus for us. It gives us a chance to reach audiences that we would not have reached."
Adam Debriae, a junior at UC, is one of the students experiencing UC in the most traditional sense. He moved here from northern Virginia for school, and has lived in UC's residence halls for three years.
He chose UC because it was small, and because he wanted to have personal relationships with his professors — he didn't expect to get that with the president of the university.
"I have friends who go to different universities and they probably don't know their president's names," he said. "So to have Dr. Welch be so supportive and visible, it's really great . . . he'll be at basketball games and come through the cafeteria and say hello to everyone. It's really part of the experience."
When Morrison talks about the outlook for UC over the next years, one of the biggest challenges he sees is the eventual, inevitable replacement of Welch at the helm of the institution.
That's going to be tough, Morrison said, because he's the institutional memory of the place, and to become such a respected leader takes years of relationship building.
"It's going to be hard to replicate what he's done," he said. "If he says he's going to do something he does it and people trust him. People trust him to be a leader in the community. That takes time."
Not that Welch is looking for the door. He says he thinks he can continue to serve UC well beyond the quarter of a decade he's already been there.
"I think as long as it's a good fit, as long as you don't get into a rut, the institution is served by having someone there who doesn't have to start from scratch with every new project."
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.