“Expect the Unexpected” was the theme emblazoned on T-shirts and banners welcoming our newest students to Orientation Weekend. The beginning of a new academic year signaled the annual rejuvenation of the campus and the Elkins community. These hallowed grounds were once again alive with new D&E Senators embarking on an exciting new journey where they expect the unexpected.

Our first-year students joined a student body that represents 40 counties in West Virginia, 40 states across the United States, and 32 countries across the world. From points near and far, D&E Senators, brimming with potential, trekked to the picturesque campus of this Randolph County college as they have done for the past 118 years.

Expecting the unexpected is an apt description of the student experience at D&E. The new freshmen arriving on campus certainly bring their individualized expectations, a mix of excitement and anxiety, as well as hopes and dreams to be realized. My promise to each of them is that in exchange for their curiosity, hard work, and persistence over the next four years, Davis & Elkins College will meet their desires and more. Their growth and maturation over the coming years on this campus will be filled with the unexpected experiences and blessings that are a hallmark of this institution of higher education.

During our formal welcoming ceremony known as the Matriculation Convocation, I shook the hand of each of our new students and wondered about the unexpected they would be encountering along their D&E journey. While they will be prepared for their career paths, some will discover an unexpected passion for a different path than they anticipated. While all will develop friendships on this campus, many will find lifelong friends, including life partners. Among the unexpected will be exposure to new information, ideologies, and perspectives that will change their lives. One in every eight of our students come from a country other than the United States, and immersion in this new culture promises unexpected opportunities. Those from tropical and desert climates will soon experience the unexpected frozen form of precipitation, and with it the thrill of a snowball fight or a great sledding hill on the front of campus. All our students will learn important life lessons from their newfound freedom leaving the nest of home, along with the responsibilities and ramifications of making adult decisions. Davis & Elkins College is a place where all should expect the unexpected.

What a blessing it is for me to go to work every day on this campus. As I welcomed new students for the seventh time in my tenure as president, every young man or young woman reminded me of the reason this institution exists. On these hallowed grounds lives are molded and futures are enriched by the unexpected blessings that occur daily as campus life unfolds. It is little wonder that students travel from near and far to journey together at Davis & Elkins College. God willing, like our new students are experiencing today, generations to come will be welcomed in the same manner to expect the unexpected. That is what makes these collegiate years some of the best years of our students’ lives.

May we all expect the unexpected, as the journey continues….

Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College