“Creativity is contagious.  Pass it on.”  These words of Albert Einstein begin the narrative engraved on a bronze plaque on the campus of Davis & Elkins College in Myles Center for the Arts that honors the living legacy of June B. Myles.  One week ago, a large crowd of people from both D&E and the Elkins-Randolph community came together to dedicate the expanded and renovated Myles Center and Myles Plaza.

We had two goals for the COVID-delayed dedication.  The first goal was to formally say thank you to our friend and benefactor, June Myles.  Over the years, she has been incredibly generous to D&E and her hometown of Elkins.  This project was a result of her deep love of the arts and her desire that they flourish in our region.  During my tenure as president of D&E, I have come to know June well.  The more I know, the deeper my admiration becomes for this special individual.  One of June’s close friends, Douglas Lane, said of June, “she gives and gives but never asks for anything in return.”  Upon reflection, Doug is correct.  Many people who are blessed with wealth bequeath it to worthy causes following their death.  June has made a conscious decision to be generous during her lifetime to witness the fruits of her philanthropy.  The people of D&E and the community-at-large are the recipients of June’s gracious spirit.

Our second goal at the dedication was to celebrate.  A party broke out last Thursday at Myles Center for the Arts.  We celebrated the arts, both the visual and performing arts.  We celebrated the artists.  We celebrated creativity, which as Einstein reminded us, is contagious so we passed it on.  We also celebrated being together.  After nearly two years of an unprecedented pandemic that kept us apart, we came together.  How wonderful it was to see old friends and meet new ones.  Lively conversations, smiles, and laughter filled Myles Center for the Arts on the campus of Davis & Elkins College.  Our blessings are myriad.

As I scanned the festive crowd filling the Senate Commons this past Thursday, I thought about the collective life journeys in that room.  Though each of us have come from different places and our experiences are unique to us, we came together and were united in that moment and that place to express gratitude and to celebrate.  Perhaps that is why I still have a warm feeling in my soul that I am in no hurry to extinguish.  Our journeys merged, the arts came alive, and a space was dedicated that will serve both the College community and the community-at-large for generations to come.  What a glorious day!

June’s bronze plaque that begins with the quote of Einstein ends with these words:

The nurturing and flourishing of the visual and performing arts

occur on this sacred ground

for students of Davis & Elkins College and the greater community. 

May their contagious creativity inspire new generations to seek meaning and truth.

Seeking meaning and truth makes for life journeys of meaning and purpose.  With thanksgiving, our journey continues….

Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College