THE INTER-MOUNTAIN - As the 15th president of Davis & Elkins College, Chris A. Wood shared his goals for improving all facets of the historic liberal arts school during his inauguration ceremony Thursday.
Wood announced plans for eventually offering master’s programs in business, health care and more; strengthening existing academic degrees; restoring sororities on campus; boosting renovations to campus facilities; expanding successful fundraising campaigns; and much more during his inaugural address to a crowd of students, community members, family, friends and distinguished guests.
The ceremony to officially welcome Wood and his family to D&E College took place Thursday evening in the Myles Center for the Arts Harper-McNeeley Auditorium.
A native of Huntington, Wood began his service as president Aug. 1. He chose “The Journey” as the inaugural theme based on the signature phrase of his father, the late Rev. Dr. F. Emerson Wood. The theme was reflected in events and celebrations throughout the week as well as in Wood’s inaugural address.
“It’s always good to arrive at a destination, but the journey is where life is lived,” Wood said, noting he hopes to share wisdom with students and help them explore opportunities at the college that will literally change their lives. “That is what it’s all about.”
He said the past several months have meant a great deal to him as the college and the community welcomed him and his family.
“Life has changed in many ways, in many wonderful ways,” he said, calling it a privilege to serve everyone involved with the college.
Wood was introduced by Dr. William N. “Bill” Johnston, former Wesley College president and former vice president for development at D&E.
Johnston said it was “a glorious day” for Davis & Elkins College, and shared stories about Wood’s religious background and his growth as a leader in the church as well as in the academic world.
“He will lead in a selfless manner because he has a sense of true north,” Johnston said. adding Wood will help all the educators at D&E continue to serve students long into the future.
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, and executive director of Mission West Virginia Inc. Also, as an ordained United Methodist pastor, Wood served congregations in Illinois and Maryland.
Wood and his wife, Lisa, have two daughters, Lacey and Lexi. They also have two miniature schnauzers, Hallie and Henry, that are part of the college family.
At the beginning of the ceremony, the West Virginia Highlanders of Davis & Elkins College led a procession with dignitaries, including higher education representatives from throughout the region, Davis & Elkins College faculty and students.
Remarks were presented by members of the college’s Board of Trustees, alumni, elected officials, religious leaders, higher education representatives, students, D&E faculty and staff. The ceremony also included musical selections, the official administration of the oath of office and presentation of the Presidential Medallion.
Wood’s brother, the Rev. Dr. Gerald E. Wood, also spoke during the ceremony. He serves as pastor of Beverly Hills United Methodist Church in Huntington, and is a former vice president for college advancement at Davis & Elkins.
Gerald Wood joked that his brother Chris is “cheap” and truly would keep track of every penny as a child. As president of the college, that frugality and good business sense will benefit the college and the community, Gerald Wood said.
“Chris might be cheap, but he cares about the quality of education students will receive here,” Gerald Wood said.
He also said his brother is a man of faith with a big heart, calling him a “visionary leader” and someone who “will work hard to ensure everything that happens here will be for the good of the students … and society.”
Major sponsorship of Inauguration Week was provided by March-Westin. The inaugural stage was sponsored by JoJo’s Floral. A reception sponsored by Beander’s, Tammy’s at the Delmonte Market and U.S. Foods Inc. followed the ceremony in the Myles Center for the Arts. The ceremony and reception also were the site for the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce March After Hours event.
A post-inauguration Moonlight Madness for students took place at Nuttall Field, and it included a pizza party and games with the Coca-Cola Refresh Crew. The event was sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. John C. Allen, Domino’s Pizza and KI.