Whether one anticipates or dreads receiving a report card generally is determined by how good or poor are the grades. That is true of a student and is also true for a college.
Once a year Forbes magazine publishes its “College Financial Grades” as an indicator of the financial stability of the 921 private four-year colleges and universities that meet its criteria. Recently, the 2021 report card was made public. Davis & Elkins College was anticipating, rather than dreading, this reveal.
Out of 921 higher education institutions in the survey, No. 139 was reserved for Davis & Elkins College, placing us in the top 15% in the nation. As interesting trivia, we were tied with Southern Methodist University and ranked nine spots ahead of Georgetown University. The letter grade for D&E was a B+. No other West Virginia institution was ranked in the top 50% of the survey.
While it is always nice to be in the top tier of any national ranking, I do not focus on this to be boastful. Rather, I write of this ranking because it is indicative of the financial stability of our beloved D&E in what is increasingly a highly competitive environment for private higher education institutions. Financial stability, in the case of Davis & Elkins, should not be confused with unlimited resources. Rather, it is an indication of strong fiscal management, living within our financial means, and strong gift support from alumni and friends of the institution. While we operate on a tight budget, we don’t spend money we don’t have, we pay our bills, avoid debt, and look for financial efficiency wherever possible.
Alumni and friends of D&E made possible the completion of an historic fundraising campaign in 2018 raising $101.4 million over 10 years. At the beginning of that campaign, a B+ on a “financial report card” would have only occurred in a dream. A decade later, thanks to: (1) wise and disciplined leadership by our Board of Trustees and former President Buck Smith; (2) generous gifts by thousands of donors; and (3) sacrifice and hard work by faculty and staff we eagerly anticipate receiving our report card and savoring our B+. With gratitude for those who have gone before, and a commitment to maintaining financial stability for the future, this College is positioned for a promising future.
Prospective college students and their families “shopping” for a high-quality undergraduate experience would be wise to take a good look at a unique school nestled in the mountains of Randolph County. Financial stability means Davis & Elkins College is only getting better as we offer each student a transformative educational experience, as we have been doing for the past 117 years and intend to be doing for the next century or more.
Let’s trust and anticipate that prospective D&E students will excel and thus anticipate their report card, just as their College looks forward to our next one as well. Good news is always welcome when it is earned.
The journey continues….
Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College