The newly-elected President of North Carolina’s Chowan University is Dr. Rosemary Thomas, who since July 2017 has served Davis & Elkins College, most recently as Executive Vice President. Dr. Thomas’ excellent work at D&E has both prepared her and qualified her for this next exciting chapter of her professional journey. As she departs D&E on March 1, I asked Rosemary to be my guest columnist for this week’s “Reflections Along the Journey.” The following are her words:

It is with mixed emotions that I prepare to bid farewell to my current home among the hills. While West Virginia has always been and will always be my “home”, God’s plan has revealed itself in a way that leads me to relocate to Murfreesboro, North Carolina. This region of North Carolina is steeped in tradition, takes pride in the hard work and resilience of its people, relies heavily on civic engagement, honors God and country, embraces arts and culture, and values higher education and all that it brings to the area. Sound familiar?

When I had the opportunity to return to West Virginia nearly seven years ago to serve Davis & Elkins College alongside my friend, faith leader, and professional colleague Chris Wood… I knew the journey would be amazing. No one could have predicted the twists and turns, peaks and valleys, and ebbs and flows. From the early days of bringing to completion the Secure the Future Campaign that exceeded the unprecedented $100M mark… to managing the College’s first Master Plan process in nearly 50 years… navigating the pandemic while simultaneously shepherding the Myles Center for the Arts and Plaza expansion… pivoting the entire process previously in place surrounding enrollment management… rebranding the institution to carry out the promise that D&E is Leading the Way… celebrating a rise in the rankings with the campus community… breaking ground and managing the construction of D&E’s first new residence hall since 1970… and strengthening relationships with alumni and friends from far and wide… one thing remained constant. The people in this community are simply the best!

The students I met along the way have changed the way I look at the world. Some became like my very own sons and daughters, others came here as children of my own friends who I had known since before they were born, some challenged me to listen more intently to their voices and others leaned on me to help them find the words they needed to speak for themselves. Working together made all the difference.

I cannot begin to say enough about the team with whom I have had the privilege of working. Their dedication is second to none and their enthusiasm is contagious. Their willingness to embrace Rhododendron Girls State relocating to our campus, the creation of the Emerging Leaders program, adjusting to the ever-changing recruitment landscape, and the incomparable collaboration with Senator Nation Athletics have all played a part in the success of today’s D&E. I am grateful to all those who were part of my time in Elkins.

To paraphrase the words of the late Desmond Tutu, “You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you.” My time here has been a privilege and my D&E family is a gift I will treasure forever.

The journey continues for us all.

Chris  A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College

Guest Contributor, Dr. Rosemary Thomas