As a kid, I liked to play in the dirt.  As an adult, I still like to get my hands dirty with the occasional landscaping project.  Over the past couple of weeks, for those who enjoy moving dirt around, the Davis & Elkins College campus would be their happy place.

Site preparation has begun for the first residence hall to be built on our campus since 1970.  Construction for the highly anticipated “Freshman Village at Davis & Elkins College” has begun!  The former parking lot above Gribble Hall is becoming “home” for 100 freshmen in the fall of 2024.  This pod-style building will offer all the modern amenities expected in the present day, along with loads of common space for students to gather, study, recreate, and thrive.

Upon completion, the Freshman Village at Davis & Elkins College will be the home for new students beginning their D&E journeys for many years. In addition to the new residence hall, renovations for both Gribble and Roxanna Booth Halls and creating exterior gathering places and streetscaping are planned.

The price tag for our Freshman Village is approximately $25 million.  In June of 2022, we launched a new capital campaign to pay the entire cost for the Freshman Village.  This campaign, named Creating Home:  It Takes a Village, has already achieved 75% of our goal in gifts and pledges in just under nine months.  We are working hard to get the vast majority of the $25 million raised by the end of 2023.

During my travels to raise these funds, I have been heartened by the response of our alums and friends.  Without a single exception, everyone with whom I have talked wholeheartedly agrees with the need for modern residence halls at D&E.  I am pleased to report that, to date, not one single individual has declined my invitation for financial support of this effort.  The cause is right and the deep love for Davis & Elkins College is apparent.

The times are tough for higher education and particularly private higher education in rural areas.  Closings and mergers are becoming more common and will increase in the next few years.  Yet, Davis & Elkins College is rowing in unison against the strong current.  While tight budgets are a reality and we are not resting on our laurels, this College is building for a bright future which is made possible by the generosity of our alumni and friends who believe in our mission and are committed to a future that finds D&E continuing to transform lives as it has done for the past 119 years.

As I walk about campus these days, the hum of the engines from the heavy equipment digging dirt and preparing the site for the erection of our new yet-unnamed residence hall brings a smile to my face.  The hum is the sound of progress and securing our future.  Increasing our competitiveness in an ever-more-difficult market is essential.  The result will be students choosing D&E for their collegiate experience and reaping the benefits for the rest of their meaningful and productive lives.  This campaign is worth our investment.

With gratitude, the journey continues….

Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College