There is an ebb and flow to life on a college campus. As we finally (and hopefully) emerge from the cold and snow of winter, there is a feeling of anticipation and accomplishment in the air as spring arrives and the academic year winds toward its climax.
Recently, Davis & Elkins College celebrated Honors Convocation, recognizing students for outstanding achievements in scholarship and service. Having witnessed our students during my time as President, it is rewarding and reassuring to see their growth in scholarship and character during their years in these hallowed halls on this sacred ground. Watching them receive honors and recognition, I am left to wonder and trust that this is simply the beginning of significant examples of impact upon communities and society that will result from their lives and passions. Their time and experiences at D&E are a true gift, and I know their sojourn into the world will be meaningful to them and all of us collectively.
Over the next couple of weeks, the college community will gather numerous times to celebrate. Among those will be various academic and student organizations hosting inductions of new members and end-of-year celebrations. Student-athletes recently gathered to recognize outstanding scholarship, athleticism, and service. Our nursing students will attend their “pinning,” which is always a very meaningful opportunity to reflect and look forward to their chosen vocation of service and healing. The campus community will gather to worship and thank God for our graduates in a Baccalaureate Service. One of the highlights of this event is the placing of an academic hood upon our graduates. Each of our graduating students bestows upon one member of the faculty or staff the honor of “hooding” them. This faculty or staff member is the one who had the greatest influence on the student during their time on campus. Our celebrations culminate with our Commencement exercises on May 13.
Commencement is always bittersweet for me. Amidst all the celebration and pride of our graduates, there is certainly an ending for those of us who remain on campus at D&E, as well as graduates. Students we have taught, molded, coached, and nurtured move on to the next exciting and opportunity-filled chapter of their lives. The farewells are generally difficult. And yet, Commencement is filled with overwhelming joy for the accomplishments of our students and for their significant potential for good they carry into the world. On a college campus, we know very well that a student’s journey brings them among us for a time…a precious time. That same journey takes them on to the next chapters, equipped with the knowledge and skills to live a purpose-filled life.
As I look out my office window onto the D&E campus and write these words, I am grateful for the events about to unfold in the life of the College. As has happened every year since 1904, this institution of higher education is accomplishing its mission, namely “…to prepare and inspire students for success and for thoughtful engagement in the world.” In the ebb and flow of campus life, it is always wise to take time for reflection and gratitude.
The journey continues….
Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College