In an ultimate show of confidence in the College’s leadership, the Davis & Elkins College Board of Trustees Executive Committee voted unanimously to extend a five-year contract for President Chris A. Wood.
“I am both honored and humbled by the contract extension provided by the Davis & Elkins College Board of Trustees,” Wood said. “Five years ago, Lisa and I had the opportunity to return home to West Virginia. Since that time, our lives have been impacted by the people who are the D&E community and the Elkins community-at-large. How grateful we are to have found a home with a College and a community we have grown to love. It is a blessing to continue to work and lead an institution dedicated to transforming lives and preparing leaders for our future.”
Wood was named D&E’s 15th president in 2016 and was awarded a multi-year contract in 2018. During his tenure, Wood has led the College to prepare for the future, both academically and financially, and steered the campus community to operate safely with in-person classes through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are very pleased and honored that Chris will continue to serve as President of Davis & Elkins College for several more years,” said D&E Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mark Barber ’75. “The strength and continuity of his leadership is especially important today as we emerge from the challenges of the pandemic and pursue our shared vision for student success and enrollment growth. With an outstanding faculty and administrative team, D&E is well positioned to succeed under Chris’ leadership.”
Financially, the 117-year-old college stands on solid ground and remains debt-free while still growing for the future. Since Wood’s arrival, the College’s endowment has increased by 75% to date. Early in his career at D&E, Wood led the College to exceed its Secure the Future campaign goal by raising $101.4 million.
In addition to maintaining a balanced budget for the past five years, Wood secured more than $8 million in gifts for capital improvements, including expansion of Myles Center for the Arts and Myles Plaza, renovations to Harper-McNeeley Auditorium, The Caboose Café and campus-wide technology upgrades.
On the academic level, the Higher Learning Commission reaffirmed the College’s decennial accreditation in 2021. Under Wood’s guidance, the College has experienced growth in academics with the addition of numerous new programs including digital media, special education and a Bachelor of Science in nursing.
Wood’s vision for the future of the College took form with a five-year strategic planning process and resulted in the Campus Master Plan. Unanimously approved by the Board of Trustee in 2019, the plan creates new possibilities for personal growth and inspiration for D&E students by addressing the “value of place” in experiential education. Upgrades to Myles Center for the Arts completed the first phase.
Wood also prepared the College for the future with two presidential initiatives aimed at nurturing the learning environment.
The President’s Initiative on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was launched in 2020 with a pledge to listen, learn, and act intentionally to uphold the D&E institutional values and mission of “thoughtful engagement in the world,” “act(ing) responsibly as citizens of multiple communities,” and valuing “human dignity and social responsibility.” Stressing an openness and mutual respect for all within the D&E community, the initiative included multiple sessions of professional development, student workshops and public programming.
This fall, the College will introduce a new enrollment initiative that will address increasing enrollment and better meeting the needs of students with the establishment of the Office of Student Success.
In addition to accomplishments within the campus community, “town-gown” relations have been strengthened as well during Wood’s tenure. As Executive Director of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber, First Lady Lisa Wood has worked to bring together the community and the College in numerous business collaborations. Most recently, the College and the Chamber partnered for the inaugural Summer Highlands Internship Program (SHIP) in which D&E students and Randolph County residents who attend other colleges gained hands-on skills and learned what it is like to be a part of the local business community.
“Chris and his wife, Lisa, have demonstrated their commitment and love for our College, for our community, and for the state of West Virginia,” Barber said. “We are fortunate to have them both so actively involved in leading the D&E campus community.”
A native of Huntington, Wood has focused his career on higher education and ministry. Prior to coming to D&E, Wood was vice president for advancement at Wesley College in Dover, Delaware. He also has worked as vice president for advancement at the University of Mount Olive in Mount Olive, North Carolina, executive director of Mission West Virginia Inc., and, as an ordained United Methodist pastor, served congregations in Illinois and Maryland. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and graduated magna cum laude from West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon. He also has completed additional graduate study at the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy.
Davis & Elkins College President Chris A. Wood has elevated the small liberal arts college in his tenure since 2016. Among many of the recent accomplishments are:
- Directing a plan for the 2020 launch of a new College website that serves as the electronic gateway to prospective students.
- Completing more than $3 million in deferred maintenance projects.
- Reduced student accounts receivable.
- Increase in graduation rates and student retention rates.
- Guiding Senator athletics from the GMAC conference to its current Mountain East Conference.
- Adding four new athletic teams – women’s acrobatics and tumbling, women’s golf, women’s triathlon and men’s wrestling.