In the bleak midwinter, frosty winds made moan, earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, in the bleak midwinter long ago.

As I write this initial column for 2022, the above verse from the old hymn seems most appropriate. For some readers in other parts of the country your experience may be vastly different, but the “bleak midwinter” has settled into the mountains of this region … in all its beauty. The blinding white of the snow dramatically alters the look of the landscape, challenges the footing of a simple walk, and reminds us of the inherent beauty of each of the four seasons. As I look at the dormancy of these mountains, I know that spring is just a few weeks away as new life prepares to emerge in nature’s perpetual cycle.

The Davis & Elkins College campus, while covered in a blanket of snow and cold air, will not be quieted. The arrival of our students back at D&E for the beginning of classes on January 10 signaled a new semester filled with opportunity. They have returned to their residence halls, their classrooms and their extracurricular activities. The prime sledding hill on front campus has been crowded and more than one flying snowball has been sighted. The bleak midwinter is the perfect season for more collegiate experiences and lifelong memories to be made.

This is the fifth semester that we are living through the disruption of a global pandemic. Like the rest of the world, we are tired of COVID and more than ready to put it behind us. Yet, like the rest of the world, we are also discovering the resiliency of the D&E community to adapt as necessary to not lose so much that we hold dear. Our priorities are to keep the campus safe, continue in-person classes, and maintain as much of the vibrancy of campus life as possible. With more than 90% of the faculty, staff and students fully vaccinated and indoor masking mandatory, we have experienced only minor disruption on campus from both the delta and omicron variants of the virus. With cautious optimism, we persevere with hopes for decreased spread as spring draws nigh.

As has been reality since 1904, the D&E campus is the location of transformative education and unlimited opportunity. Learning continues, friendships flourish, athletic records are set, creativity blooms, and young men and young women mature into the future leaders and influencers of our community, nation and world. The cycle of life inherent on a college campus keeps each day fresh and full of new experiences and unexpected opportunities. It creates energy and synergy and promotes exploration and innovation. In short, being a part of the D&E community is as energizing today as it was in all the semesters gone by that created lifetime memories for our alumni.

In the world, as in nature, our bleak midwinter journeys continue toward the new possibilities of spring.  Each moment of each day is a blessing to savor as the journey continues….

Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College