D&E surpasses fundraising goal

The Inter-Mountain photos by Sarah Goodrich Bill Nuttall of the Davis & Elkins College Board of Trustees makes a toast Saturday at Halliehurst.

ELKINS — Davis & Elkins College celebrated Saturday, and for good reason. The college completed its 10-year $100 million Secure the Future campaign, the largest in its 114-year history.

D&E announced Saturday that a grand total of $100,854,321 has been raised, exceeding the capital campaign’s original goal. Cash donations, stock, estate gifts and real estate make up the grand total. Nearly 5,700 donors made more than 23,600 gifts between July 2, 2008 and Saturday.

Before announcing the grand total of the capital campaign Saturday afternoon in Halliehurst on the college campus, D&E president Chris Wood said, “Some have thought that $100 million wasn’t even a possibility for a small college in the West Virginia highlands. And my only message to those folks is never underestimate Davis & Elkins College.”

“This is the day to pause. This is the day to reflect. This is the day to give thanks. This is the day, indeed to celebrate,” said Wood.

Acknowledging Saturday as “one of the most important days in the 114-year history of this college,” Wood said it was one more reason to move the college into the future with enthusiasm and high expectations.

“Davis & Elkins has always been a gem in the rough with outstanding academics that have produced alumni that have excelled in their field. And yet, due to economic concerns, figuratively, one hand has always been tied behind our backs,” he said. “There have been numerous times when the future of the institution was endowed, and yet leaders have stepped up and they have stood by D&E to ensure that she perseveres and that she continues to transform the lives of students.”

Wood described Saturday’s celebration as a “tipping point when we move courageously and when we move boldly toward a bright future that is built upon a solid foundation,” he said.

The vision for the campaign came under the leadership of former D&E President G.T. Buck Smith back in 2008 when the capital campaign was launched to build endowment, address capital needs on campus and raise annual gifts for operations. Throughout the years many have been willing to invest in the small liberal arts college.

By the fall of 2015, the college had reached the $50 million milestone when D&E board of trustee member James S. McDonnell III and the McDonnell Family Foundation posed a challenge to the college. McDonnell offered to match all additional gifts to the campaign up to $25 million.

With the $50 million already raised, an additional $25 million in philanthropy and McDonnell’s $25 million match, the college could complete a $100 million campaign. McDonnell had asked that the fundraising be completed by June 30, 2018.

Other speakers for Saturday’s celebration included June Myles, the chair of the D&E Board of Trustees, Dr. Rosemary Thomas, Board of Trustees member Paul Stirrup and donor Robert E. Douglas.

“There are more than 1,300 D&E graduates in our community. That’s what an investment at D&E needs,” said Myles. “It’s not a gift. It’s an investment to strengthen the college and subsequently to serve the community and the other communities that our graduates choose to live.”

Though not an alumnus of D&E, Douglas explained his son, Rob, who passed away of lung cancer at the age of 54, graduated from D&E in 1984. This is the reason he and his wife decided to invest in the college through establishing the Robert E. Douglas Scholarship.

“He made wonderful friends here at D&E and he had great admiration of his teachers, his professors,” he said. “D&E was very good to Rob, and Rob was very good to D&E, and we’ve never forgotten that.”

The celebratory ceremony concluded with a congratulatory toast from incoming chair for the Board of Trustees, Dr. William Nuttal.

“The future of Davis & Elkins College is indeed secured thanks to all who have gave with their generosity and their time, talents and treasure to ensure that our beloved D&E will continue to provide a quality liberal arts education to the future generation of Senators,” he said.

After the Halliehurst event the festivities continued into Saturday evening with the Mountain State Street Machines Auto Extravaganza in downtown Elkins and a concert performance from the Davisson Brothers at D&E, followed by fireworks to conclude the community’s Independence Day celebration.