A week-long celebration of Davis & Elkins College, March 26-30, led up to the inauguration of the College’s 15th President Chris A. Wood. The events, all free and open to the public, showcased D&E’s spiritual life, arts, athletics and academics.
“This is the season of inaugurations and Davis & Elkins College is excited to be celebrating a ceremony of our own as Chris Wood is formally installed as the 15th president. As West Virginians, Chris and his wife, Lisa, appreciate the importance and value of an educated populace. Our mission, ‘to prepare and inspire students for success and for thoughtful engagement in the world,’ is in good hands. We look forward to years of continued growth as President Wood leads this 1904 institution forward.” -June Myles, chair of the Board of Trustees
Wood chose “The Journey” as the inaugural theme based on the signature phrase of his father, the late Rev. Dr. F. Emerson Wood. The theme also is one that was woven through the events designed to celebrate D&E during inauguration week.
I have been thinking about “journeys” a great deal lately. The older, and hopefully wiser, I become the more I am recognizing that meaning and purpose is found on life’s journey. When asked for an inaugural theme to weave through all the wonderful events designed to celebrate Davis & Elkins College this week, the words of my father came back to me.
My father, as well as my mother, has been the most significant influence on my life. Raised in West Virginia, my dad devoted his life to God, family and social justice. A United Methodist minister, he always remembered and lived out the words that his bishop shared with him at his ordination in 1958: “Your job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” And so he did, with a pastor’s heart and a prophet’s zeal. In recent years as we were separated by hundreds of miles, Dad would often send me handwritten notes of love and encouragement, and he would always end them with the phrase, “The journey continues….” This past July, at the age of eighty-eight, my father passed on from this life to his eternal life. During my time at D&E, I have been thinking about him…and about the journey.
One of my first official duties as President was to welcome 250 new students to the D&E community. Coincidentally the theme for orientation weekend, chosen long before my arrival, was “The Journey is the Destination.” I had the privilege to share with our newly arrived students my firm belief that each of us are called to discover our life’s vocation…that which brings meaning to our lives. As our new students began their new adventure at Davis & Elkins, my hope and prayer is that each of them will thrive and learn from the journey, rather than being fixated only on an eventual destination. The destinations will arrive, but the journey is the gift.
Whether we are eighteen and entering college, or eighty-eight and entering eternal life, the journey continues. The sage among us will savor the path, with its mountaintops and valleys. I am grateful that my journey has brought me back home to West Virginia and to a caring college community. Here, in our “home among the hills,” discovery awaits the students of D&E, and each of us.
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