The 115th annual Commencement festivities at Davis & Elkins College are now a pleasant memory. The class of 2024 has joined the alumni ranks and are well prepared for a life of meaning and purpose.

The following are a few highlights of both baccalaureate and commencement, at least from the perspective of a proud and grateful President:

  • After missing their high school graduations due to COVID, the class of ’24 gathered in a packed Harper-McNeeley Auditorium to celebrate their resiliency, accomplishments, and bright future.
  • The pipes and drums of the D&E Highlanders led our graduates in procession to the Myles Center for the Arts, as they have done for many years, paying homage to our Presbyterian and Scottish heritage.
  • The genuine emotion on full display during the hooding ceremony, as each graduate embraced the faculty or staff member that had the greatest influence upon him or her, crystalizes four years of a transformative educational experience.
  • Our Baccalaureate speaker, Rev. Zac Morton, challenged graduates to resist allowing others to prescribe the maps for their lives. Rather, create one’s own life map, and while following it, revel in a life of service and meaning.
  • Outgoing Board of Trustees Chair, Mark Barber, was presented with a much-deserved honorary doctorate to recognize his 4 years of service and leadership for his beloved alma mater.
  • Commencement speaker, Dr. Tony Kossiakoff ’68, a distinguished educator and researcher from the University of Chicago, credited D&E with preparing him for his stellar career. He shared with graduates that had he attended the prestigious University of Chicago for his undergraduate education, he would not have achieved all he has accomplished. It was the high-quality D&E faculty, and their high-touch investment in his life that made all the difference.
  • As diploma’s were presented, I handed each graduate a letter they wrote to themselves on their first day on campus as a freshman. Most had forgotten this first homework assignment they received as a new college student. This snapshot in time provided the new freshmen a chance to share their fears and doubts, as well as their hopes and dreams. Saturday, as they graduated from D&E, our newest alumni read their four-year old letter that demonstrated in stark terms the growth, maturation, and transformation that occurred during their time on our hallowed campus.
  • Graduates recessed out of Harper-McNeeley Auditorium through a gauntlet of applauding faculty as our newest alumni go into the world with our gratitude, admiration, and highest hopes.
  • Student Government President Matin Eisa of England missed the weekend festivities because he was playing in the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regionals in golf where he finished second and will be advancing to national competition. Upon returning to campus, Matin had a private graduation ceremony in Harper-McNeeley with the complete platform party and about a dozen faculty members in full academic regalia. Several dozen people, including Matin’s family from England, attended the abbreviated Monday commencement. When Davis & Elkins says we care individually about all our students, we mean it!

With the conclusion of the academic year, it is time for a summer hiatus for this weekly “Journey” column. May the summer months bring opportunity for us all to refresh, recreate, and reflect on our continuing journey.

The journey continues…

Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College