Enjoying the eclipse

Did you join the masses staring upward on August 21 to see the moon pass in front of the sun? The rare and highly anticipated solar eclipse did not disappoint.

I walked to the plaza in front of Myles Center for the Arts on the Davis & Elkins campus to join a large group of students, faculty and staff to observe the celestial phenomenon. We had a bunch of the necessary glasses, but still had to share among the crowd. As I was awaiting my turn, I was observing the group that had gathered. It dawned on me that the snapshot of that group, captured in that moment, encapsulated the mission and purpose of Davis & Elkins College in tangible form.

The mission of D&E is “To prepare and inspire students for success and for thoughtful engagement in the world.” Gazing in awe and wonderment at the heavens, I witnessed in our students’ eyes their wonder and curiosity for the new and previously unseen. Surrounded by their learned faculty, they brought their keen intellects and their searching souls to a glorious color-filled classroom. They brought their questions, their observations, their interactions, and discovered knowledge and truth. Following the full eclipse, as we entered the phase when the moon began pulling away from the sun, we literally transitioned from darkness to light.

August 21 was the first day of classes for the fall semester. As I stood on that plaza and gazed upon our students, crystalized in that moment, I was reminded why Davis & Elkins College’s mission is critical to each student who steps foot on this campus, and indeed, to our hopeful future in this community, country and world. Standing on that plaza are tomorrow’s leaders, change-makers, heroes and community backbone. Staring at that eclipse were students who will make break-through discoveries in science, create soul-stirring paintings, be exemplary teachers of our children, pen provocative novels and become the ethicists and healers of the next generation. Their education and maturation is underway. What a privilege to be associated with an institution whose mission is so pure and so critical to our society’s future.

As light replaced darkness, and darkness transitioned to light, I was reminded again of our world and our mission. Even as we witnessed the recent shocking and horrifying scenes of bigotry, hatred and racism on the streets of Charlottesville, I was lifted and heartened by the realization that students on the Davis & Elkins College campus are learning and growing in an environment that nurtures the souls of all, and values within our campus community civility, diversity, honest and thoughtful dialogue, and inclusion. As the moon passed by the sun and light returned, I took solace that education has the power to overcome darkness, and unity to replace division.

The solar eclipse was a powerful experience for me. I was grateful to experience it on the Davis & Elkins College campus, which is truly a blessed place. On this campus, lives are changed, the journeys of all are enhanced and the light of truth shines brightly.

The journey continues…

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