Professors made an impact

When two faculty members have given 106 combined years of service to Davis & Elkins College, that is reason for gratitude and thanksgiving! During our recent Founders’ Day Convocation, we celebrated a pair of remarkable professors who have made an indelible impact upon the students they mentored as well as this institution. I give thanks for both Dr. Gloria M. Payne and Dr. A. Jean Minnick.

Dr. Payne graduated from D&E in 1943 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in business and English, and began her employment with the College in 1945. For the next 71 years she served with distinction, eventually becoming chair of the Business and Economics Department. Her connection with students and alumni is legendary.

This past Christmas season, when I visited with Gloria in her home, her dining room table was literally overflowing with gifts from former students remembering a professor who had invested herself in their lives. During Founders’ Day, I was honored to present Gloria with the inaugural Crystal Mace Award, intended to be the College’s highest honor for those whose impact has truly been transformational.

Dr. Minnick served as professor of physical education and chair of the Department of Health, Sport and Movement Science from 1963 to 1998. In addition to her many awards and accolades in the classroom, Coach Minnick had a legendary career on the playing field. Leading D&E’s field hockey program to national prominence as a Division I NCAA program, she amassed a record of 145-21-14 during her 17 years of coaching. With 12 undefeated regular seasons, and finishing third in the nation in 1981, Minnick produced phenomenal players and outstanding citizens.

Dr. Minnick’s recent gift of $1 million establishes the College’s seventh endowed chair, the A. Jean Minnick Chair in Sport Science. Dr. Minnick’s former student, Dr. Mary Ann DeLuca, was named as the first A. Jean Minnick Professor of Sport Science. Mary Ann proudly claims Jean as her mentor.

I cannot think of two more fitting people than Gloria and Jean to symbolize the rich and proud heritage of Davis & Elkins College, as well as the promise of greater things to come. Leaving a legacy for future generations is the mark of a life well lived.

As we gathered to celebrate Founders’ Day, we took time to reflect on the history of the institution. Dr. David Turner, another longtime and revered faculty member, shared insights into the storied history of Davis & Elkins College. It is a history of significant challenges, and yet a story of perseverance. Focused on its mission, this College has overcome challenges, continued to mold the lives of students, and been an economic engine and source of human capital for the local community for more than a century. A storied past and a promising future is an apt description for Davis & Elkins College!

Dr. Payne and Dr. Minnick serve as powerful reminders that each of us are given but one life upon this earth to live. It is up to us how we spend our time and energies. Making a difference in the lives of others is a noble and worthy cause.

The journey continues….