Valentine’s Day is all about love. A whole lot of happy couples trace their love affairs to their time at Davis & Elkins College. Many of those couples were students, however, members of the faculty and staff have also experienced Cupid’s arrow on these hallowed grounds.

Since I am about to share a story that involves our theater program, allow me to present to you a love story in three acts.

Act One revolves around “The First Meeting”. In 2021 Dr. Aubrey Neumann, having just completed her doctorate from Ohio State University, joined the D&E faculty as an Assistant Professor of Theatre, and Dr. Andrew Jones, Associate Professor of Communications, made his way to Elkins following a teaching assignment in Lithuania. Andrew first saw Aubrey at the Augusta Festival and reports his heart skipped a beat. As for Aubrey, she remembers attending a Shakespeare production on campus and meeting her new colleague as they headed to dinner with members of the cast.

Act two, titled “From Acquaintance to Friendship”, opens with Aubrey spraining an ankle and the pair ending up at Andrew’s gazebo. Aubrey remembers Andrew being “very sweet” and bringing ice for the injury. Good conversation about travel, theatre, and family followed. Being professors, curriculum…of all things…brought them together again as redesigns of both of their respective programs were pursued in earnest.

The final act is all about the realization this was “More Than Friendship”. I chuckled when Andrew describes “the moment” he knew this was getting serious. Aubrey, teaching a stage makeup class, transformed herself into an angry-looking leprechaun. That face, caught in a picture, was the spark. For both colleagues and their students, few were surprised by the budding relationship. Aubrey says her astute students never bought that  Andrew was that passionate about hanging out at the theatre and building sets on the weekend. D&E students are not easily fooled.

When asked what he most admired about his fiancée, Andrew said, “She is really smart…and one of the kindest and most caring people you will ever meet. Watching her coach a nervous student on stage to give their best performance is pretty magical.” Describing Andrew’s most admired qualities, Aubrey said, “He is so caring and will try to help anyone who reaches out to him – friend, family, or fiancée. It doesn’t hurt that he specializes in listening. He asked me what my favorite book was, and he actually read it.” Also, vitally important, the couple shared, “We also laugh a lot together.”

In the summer of ’23 the campus community celebrated the news of an engagement of two D&E faculty members. On June 23, 2024 Drs. Jones and Neumann will marry in Madison, Wisconsin, where the bride’s family resides. A better script has never been penned. A Tony Award just might be in the future for this theatrical masterpiece.

Job opportunities at a small college in the Allegheny Highlands brought two educators together from thousands of miles apart. Their love of teaching led to a love for one another. Yet again, love reigns at Davis & Elkins College as it has so many times in the past and will continue for countless couples in the years to come. Valentine’s congratulations to Aubrey and Andrew!

The journey continues….

Chris A Wood
Davis & Elkins College