Date Posted:  Tuesday, July 3, 2018

ELKINS – Davis & Elkins College exceeded its 10-year Secure the Future campaign goal ringing in at $100,854,321 as of Saturday morning with additional gifts still being tabulated. President Chris A. Wood made the announcement during a Garden Party luncheon for donors at Halliehurst and at the amphitheatre stage prior to the Fourth of July celebration.

“Some thought $100 million was an impossibility for a small college in the West Virginia highlands,” Wood said in making the announcement. “Never underestimate Davis & Elkins College!”

D&E’s 12th President G.T. ‘Buck’ Smith initiated the campaign in 2008 as a solution to the College’s financial woes. With a goal of $100 million, the campaign hit high points in 2010 with a $10 million gift from the James S. McDonnell Family Foundation and in 2016 when Secure the Future was announced publicly with a $25 million challenge from James S. McDonnell III and the McDonnell Family Foundation. McDonnell is a member of the D&E Board of Trustees.

Throughout the campaign, nearly 5,700 donors made more than 23,800 gifts represented by cash, stocks, real estate, planned giving and realized estate gifts. Among the gift designations were the establishment of three academic chairs and the creation of 39 new endowed scholarships.

“The gifts ranged from $1 to $25 million, and this total would not have been possible without every single one of them,” Wood said expressing gratitude, humility and joy.

In reflecting on Smith’s plan to secure the College’s future, Wood explained that McDonnell, along with other trustees, and everyone connected to D&E shared the willingness to dream and the gumption to move forward with their vision.

“From the very beginning, this College has been a story of an unflagging belief in our mission and a valiant struggle to strengthen the financial posture of the institution,” Wood said. “Davis & Elkins has always been a gem in the rough, with outstanding academics that produced amazing alumni who have excelled in their fields. And yet, due to economic concerns, figuratively one hand has always been tied behind our back. There have been numerous times when the future of the institution was in doubt, and yet leaders have stepped up and stood by D&E to ensure that she perseveres and continues to transform the lives of students.

“Today is a tipping point when we move courageously and boldly toward a bright future built upon a solid foundation,” Wood continued.

The celebration marked one of the most significant days in the College’s 114-year history and the success of its largest ever fundraising effort. Also speaking at the luncheon were Board of Trustees Chair Emeriti and alumnus Paul Stirrup, ’60, outgoing Chair June Myles, incoming Trustee and donor Robert Douglas and incoming Chair Bill Nuttall. A video message from Smith and his wife, Joni, was also presented. Vice President for Enrollment Management and Institutional Advancement Dr. Rosemary Thomas served as emcee.

Stirrup recalled his first meeting with Smith and emphasized that as they worked together through the years, they encountered a great number of people who shared their belief in Davis & Elkins College.

In his message, Smith traced the 10-year history of the campaign starting with his July 1, 2008, address to members of the campus and area community. It was that day that he received a $1,000 check from Trustee Adviser, Professor of History Emeritus and Dean of the Faculty Emeritus Dr. Thomas R. Ross. That act, he said, was a signal that others would follow suit and express their support for the College. Smith also highlighted conversations with McDonnell that brought good news to the College’s financial future, and expressed his gratitude to everyone who had contributed to the campaign.

Myles told the group of her decision to invest in Davis & Elkins College, the successful results and her enthusiasm for the number and character of graduates who work toward the betterment of the local community.

In a moving message, Douglas spoke of establishing the Robert E. Douglas Jr. Scholarship in honor of his son, a 1984 D&E graduate who passed away in 2015.