This week’s “Reflecting Along the Journey” column provides an opportunity to wax eloquent about a critical constituent group of the College and to thank them for a job exceptionally well done. Rightly so, I often brag about our outstanding students and esteemed faculty. Today, I reflect upon our staff who are the glue that holds D&E together. I remain unconvinced that there is another institution of higher education that has a staff more dedicated or more caring about the college’s mission and students. I am honored to work alongside these outstanding individuals.

A few years back I suggested to our staff that we consider the formation of a Staff Council. Running with the idea, members of our staff organized this group to provide a voice to staff members and create open communication between the college’s administration and staff. Our Staff Council, which compliments our Faculty Assembly, has been a positive addition and a welcome partner in the administration of the college. Their ideas and feedback have been practical and beneficial. Their voices have been amplified and the college is better because of it.

One of my favorite suggestions of Staff Council has been the “Cheers for Peers” program. Monthly, a staff member is selected from nominations by staff, faculty, or students to receive this honor. It is my privilege to join the Staff Council Chair, Donna McCauley, and other employees close to the award recipient as we barge into the workplace “Publisher’s Clearinghouse Style” to surprise the awardee and thank him or her for their exceptional service and commitment to excellence. Our first recipient was our cashier in the Dining Hall, Pat Nestor. Affectionately known on campus as “Grannie,” Pat is beloved by all for her care and love of her D&E family. Since then, we have honored our Administrative Assistant in Nursing, our Registrar, another worker in Dining Services, and most recently, our Librarian. Many more deserving staff members will have a surprise in the coming months.

While it may be cliché to claim our employees are above and beyond the norm, I am an unashamed and unrelenting apologist for the quality and commitment of those who work and serve at Davis & Elkins College. Yes, they receive a paycheck for their work. However, none are in it solely for the compensation. They believe in our mission, they see the results of our work in the transformed lives of students, and they gain meaning and purpose for their own lives. The tears in their eyes at graduation, along with our faculty, serve as the tangible proof that our staff is invested in our student’s success, and we are blessed to have them as an integral component of the D&E community.

For my eight years as President of Davis & Elkins College, I have been advocating that the initials D&E not only stand for our name, but that it also represents two attributes that must be our hallmark, namely “Distinction & Excellence”. I honor the members of the D&E staff and thank them for living out these attributes in their daily work and lives. This College truly is a blessed place.

The journey continues….

Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College