Recently I experienced the wisdom of two popular adages.  The first states, “You are never too old to learn.”  The second is gleaned from Mary Lathrap’s 1895 poem entitled “Walk a Mile in His Moccasins.”  On April 3, a Davis & Elkins College student assumed the presidency of Davis & Elkins College for a day, and I stepped into the proverbial shoes of that student.  For “both D&E Presidents” it was an educational experience.

Matin Eisa is completing his junior year majoring in finance with a minor in mathematics.  His unmistakable accent leaves no doubt that England is his home country.  Matin is the captain of the highly successful D&E Men’s Golf Team, serves as an officer for our Student Government Association, and is an excellent student as affirmed by his consistent naming to either the Dean’s or President’s List.  Among all those accolades, Matin can now add President of Davis & Elkins College, at least for a day.

President Eisa spent a large portion of his day in meetings.  Between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. he convened a meeting of the College’s Cabinet, talked with the Chair of the Board of Trustees on a virtual call, discussed new capital projects and deferred maintenance needs on a campus walk with the Director of Facilities and a Board member, was interviewed by both a local television station and the Inter-Mountain, and served as the guest speaker for the Elkins Rotary Club.  The afternoon schedule was still ahead.  I laughed when Matin later said to me, “Do you actually have this number of meetings, and do you regularly have to talk this much?”

With a couple of members of the D&E Communications Office shadowing me to document the day, they began introducing me as “third year finance major Chris Wood.”  This “older” student experienced an equally eye-opening day.  Walking in Matin’s shoes, I found myself working at my internship in the college’s business office, touring Moyer Residence Hall and hanging out with President Eisa himself in his dorm room, and spending time in the dining hall with the men’s golf team where their candid conversation was entertaining and enlightening.  The highlight for me was stepping back into a college classroom where the magic happens.  Watching D&E faculty engaged in the art of teaching only confirmed and strengthened the respect I have for the job they do each day.

The “Presidential Switch Day” was a spectacular opportunity for Matin to gain firsthand understanding and experience at leading a complex organization.  For me, I was reconnected with the core of this institution and refocused to keep students at the center of all we do.  Both Matin and I had our horizons expanded.

Davis & Elkins College proclaims in our tagline we are “Leading the Way.”  Becoming “President for a Day” is but one of countless examples where D&E students are presented with opportunities to mold and shape them into the leaders and changemakers of the future.  Transformative moments are commonplace on this unique campus.

Many alumni tell me their days on the D&E campus were the best of their lives.  Their transformative educational experience prepared them for a life of meaning and purpose.  Today’s students are having the very same experience, and “third year finance major Wood” speaks from recent experience.  How grateful I am!

The journey continues….

Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College