“D&E” is not only shorthand for Davis & Elkins College, but also a reminder that “Distinction & Excellence” is the hallmark of this higher education institution. There are many fine examples of D&E’s tagline “Leading the Way,” but very high on that list stands The Naylor Learning Center. This center has earned its national reputation for distinction and excellence.

The origins of the center can be traced back to 1984 when Peggy Turner started a program that has evolved into today’s source of pride. The center began with five students, and that number began gradually increasing as the program evolved. By 2010 the program had grown dramatically and relocated to Jennings Randolph Hall. Mary Ellen Schubert’s dynamic leadership began in 2009 and continued until her retirement in 2021. During her tenure, the Naylor family made a significant donation that assisted with the renovation of the second floor of Albert Hall making it the new home of The Naylor Learning Center. The center was dedicated on September 23, 2011, with further renovation to the center occurring in 2016. Programmatically, Mary Ellen utilized a holistic approach to create the successful center we know today. In the fall of 2013, Derek Fincham came to D&E working in academic support, and upon Mary Ellen’s retirement, he was appointed interim director and has provided solid leadership throughout this year.

So, what does The Naylor Learning Center provide? This center provides students with needed academic support for success at D&E. Supports include drop-in and one-on-one tutoring, academic skills courses, the D&E Writing Center, and an early start program for freshman students known as PATH. In addition, the center provides accommodations for qualifying students with disabilities (Section 504 and ADA accommodations). The national recognition has resulted from The Supported Learning Program, a comprehensive fee-for-services program that provides support beyond federally mandated accommodations. This program takes a comprehensive approach to student success, supporting the areas of academic, independent living and social skills as well as ensuring the transition and matriculation of students with disabilities. Over the years, this program has enrolled students from specialized schools such as the D.C. and Baltimore The Lab Schools, The Gow School in upstate New York, and The Katherine Thomas School in Rockville, Maryland, just to name a few.

The numbers vividly tell the story of the impact of The Naylor Learning Center on our campus. Each year, approximately 50% of our students utilize one or more of their services. This fall alone the center provided over 9,000 hours of direct support to our students. Currently, Disability Services supports 60 students with 27 students taking part in the Supported Learning Program. Based on applications for next fall, the number of students will continue to increase for all the programs offered by the center.

The Naylor Learning Center is one of the unique and highly valued offerings that differentiate Davis & Elkins from our competitors. The key to success has been the quality of this program resulting from the passion and dedication of a superb staff of professionals. These unsung heroes deserve our admiration and thanks. They are making a difference in the lives of students and molding them for promising futures.

The journey continues….

Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College