A cherished memory of my late father was the frequent letters he would write to me. At the conclusion of each, he would write the phrase, “The journey continues.” Having adopted that as the theme of this column seven years ago upon my arrival at D&E, I am pleased to resume this weekly communication and share reflections along that journey with alumni and friends of Davis & Elkins College.
On August 17, the largest class of incoming students in more than a decade arrived on the D&E campus. These students have proven to be enthusiastic and engaged. The demographics of this class differ somewhat from the upper-class students. While the new students are evenly divided between male and female, 56% of our returning students are female. Residential students in the new class equate to 83% which is four points higher than their fellow students. West Virginians are 42% of the class, 26 additional states account for 34% of new students, and an astounding 24% of the class are International. 29 countries encompassing 6 continents are represented by those traveling internationally to the mountains of Randolph County. Together, all our new students represent a diverse and impressive cohort of D&E Senators.
Beyond quantifiable numbers are the qualitative experiences that are perceived as you observe and interact with the D&E student body. There is an energy and upbeat attitude on campus that was diminished during the pandemic. An air of expectancy and possibility was palpable in the party-like atmosphere at check-in. For new students, strangers have become friends. For returning students, new friends have been welcomed into a campus community they know well. Together, they embark on a new year, new possibilities, new adventures, and preparation for promising futures.
While D&E is experiencing momentum, there is grief for our sister institution that has existed in the nearby town of Phillipi for more than a century. Alderson Broaddus University officially closed its doors permanently in July after a long and painful financial struggle. For the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of A-B, as well as the Barbour County community, this was a heartbreaking event. The students were devastated by the loss of their school. Davis & Elkins College, along with our friends at West Virginia Wesleyan College, stepped up to serve as a “teach out” institution for A-B students. Our commitment is to accept their academic credits, match their financial aid, and graduate them on time. How heartening it is to talk with former A-B students now enrolled at D&E and hear their expressions of gratitude for the smooth transition and welcome they have received. We are committed to supporting these students and celebrating both of their collegiate institutions that will make possible their graduation from college.
So, the 120th academic year of Davis & Elkins College is underway. We commence this journey with momentum, enthusiasm, and trust that the high-quality and high-touch educational experience that has been the hallmark of this institution for generations will continue for today’s students on the hallowed grounds of this campus. As my father always reminded me, the journey continues. For this new year, I am grateful and eager for each experience and encounter along that journey.
The journey continues….
Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College