ELKINS, W.Va. – Davis & Elkins College’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to extend a five-year contract for President Chris A. Wood.
Wood expressed his gratitude at the board’s decision and to the Elkins and college communities.
“I am both honored and humbled by the contract extension provided by the Davis & Elkins College Board of Trustees. Five years ago, Lisa and I had the opportunity to return home to West Virginia. Since that time, our lives have been impacted by the people who are the D&E community and the Elkins community-at-large. How grateful we are to have found a home with a College and a community we have grown to love. It is a blessing to continue to work and lead an institution dedicated to transforming lives and preparing leaders for our future.”Chris Wood, Davis & Elkinc College President
Wood was named D&E’s 15th president in 2016 and was awarded a multi-year contract in 2018. During his time at the college, Wood has looked to the future by preparing both academically and financially. He also navigated difficult choices surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are very pleased and honored that Chris will continue to serve as President of Davis & Elkins College for several more years,” said D&E Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mark Barber. “The strength and continuity of his leadership is especially important today as we emerge from the challenges of the pandemic and pursue our shared vision for student success and enrollment growth. With an outstanding faculty and administrative team, D&E is well positioned to succeed under Chris’ leadership.”
Financially, the 117-year-old college remains debt-free while still growing for the future. Since Wood’s arrival, the college’s endowment has increased by 75%. Early in his career at D&E, Wood led D&E to exceed its Secure the Future campaign goal by raising $101.4 million.
In addition to maintaining a balanced budget for the past five years, Wood secured more than $8 million in gifts for capital improvements, including expansion of Myles Center for the Arts and Myles Plaza, renovations to Harper-McNeeley Auditorium, the creation of The Caboose Café and campus-wide upgrades to technology.
On the academic level, the Higher Learning Commission reaffirmed the college’s decennial accreditation in 2021. Under Wood’s guidance, the college has experienced growth in academics with the addition of numerous new programs including:
- digital media
- special education
- Bachelor of Science in nursing.
Other additions that have been made during Wood’s time include the addition of four new athletic teams:
- women’s acrobatics and tumbling
- women’s golf
- women’s triathlon
- men’s wrestling.
Wood’s vision for the future of the college took form with a five-year strategic planning process and resulted in the Campus Master Plan which was unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees in 2019. Upgrades to Myles Center for the Arts completed the first phase.
Wood also prepared the college for the future with two presidential initiatives aimed at nurturing the learning environment.
The President’s Initiative on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was launched in 2020 with a pledge to listen, learn, and act intentionally to uphold the D&E institutional values. Stressing an openness and mutual respect for all within the D&E community, the initiative included multiple sessions of professional development, student workshops and public programming.
In fall semester 2021, D&E will introduce a new enrollment initiative that will address increasing enrollment and better meeting the needs of students with the establishment of the Office of Student Success.
Wood has also helped develop relationships outside D&E. As Executive Director of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber, First Lady Lisa Wood has worked to bring together the community and the college in numerous business collaborations. Most recently, the D&E and the Chamber partnered for the inaugural Summer Highlands Internship Program (SHIP) which pairs D&E students and Randolph County residents who attend other colleges with local businesses to help them gain work experience.
“Chris and his wife, Lisa, have demonstrated their commitment and love for our college, for our community, and for the state of West Virginia,” Barber said. “We are fortunate to have them both so actively involved in leading the D&E campus community.”