THE EXPONENT TELEGRAM - Chris A. Wood took the oath of office as Davis & Elkins College’s 15th president Thursday in Myles Center for the Arts Harper-McNeeley Auditorium.
“Since Aug. 1, I have come to know the people of D&E, the history of this institution, the uniqueness of this College and began to glimpse the opportunities for the future,” Wood told the crowd. “You welcomed Lisa, Lacey, Lexi and me, and invited us to become a part of this community. Now, our journeys are joined together, and I am grateful for your welcome and embrace.”
Wood chose “The Journey” as the theme for the inauguration, borrowing the phrase from his father, the late Rev. Dr. F. Emerson Wood, who always signed notes to his son with the words “The journey continues.” As Davis & Elkins students begin their journey of transformation, Wood said he hopes they find their true purpose in life.
“Vocation is that which brings meaning to one’s life,” Wood explained. “I am increasingly convinced that actively seeking one’s vocation in life, particularly when vocation is married with career, is the key to meaning and success. My hope and dream ... my prayer for our students, is that they will seek out and discover, with God’s help, their vocation.”
Wood’s own vocation, he said, is what drives his leadership style, one he describes as a collaborator and a consensus builder.
“I will repeat to you today what I told the faculty at our first gathering in August,” Wood said. “I will share information with you as I am able; I will solicit your input; and I will tell you why I have made the decisions I have made. We might not always agree, but we will begin to build the necessary trust and respect to move this College forward. After eight months among you, I do hope and trust that you know I am a person of my word.”
In his address, Wood shared points of observations, hopes and a partial response to how D&E will strategically move forward to become a stronger and even more vital institution.
“I have heard some people on campus use an expression that over the coming years I am committed to redefining,” Wood said of the common phrase: “The D&E way.” “We have an opportunity to make the D&E way spectacular. The D&E way should involve excellence, pride and a work ethic second to none. The D&E way is how we transform lives.”
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, serving congregations in Illinois and Maryland.