ELKINS — During Friday’s Davis & Elkins College Founders’ Day Convocation guests were surprised by the announcement of a large monetary commitment from a former professor.
Dr. Rosemary M. Thomas, vice president for enrollment management and institutional advancement, announced that Professor Emerita and former coach Dr. A. Jean Minnick had committed $1 million to the institution, leading to the establishment of the school’s seventh endowed chair in the sports science department.
She said the expression “Thanks a million,” had become a reality due to Minnick’s generosity.
“It is indeed a special day. It is a special time for Davis & Elkins College because, you see, it is time to secure the future. … ‘Thanks a million.’ An expression, just an idiom that we use and we all just say it in passing. Well, today it’s real. It’s a valid statement and it’s one we all need to join together to say,” Thomas said.
She explained there are six other endowed chairs in different departments across campus.
“Today is a lucky day because lucky number seven has come to fruition and, indeed, now is the time to say ‘Thanks a million,” Thomas added.
Wood named Sports Science Department Chair Dr. Mary Ann DeLuca as the inaugural holder of the endowed chair during the Friday convocation.
“When an endowed chair is created, it is necessary to name a professor to fill that chair,” Wood said. “As both a former student and one who looks to Dr. Minnick as her mentor, it is my honor, as president of Davis & Elkins College, to officially name Dr. Mary Ann DeLuca.”
The $1 million gift will provide support and vital resources to the department of sports science. The gift actually boosts D&E’s $100 million “Secure the Future” campaign by $2 million in conjunction with the $25 million McDonnell Challenge, which adds to the endowment by matching any gift or commitment dollar for dollar through June 30.
A resident of Elkins, Minnick served as professor of physical education and chair of the Department of Health, Sport, and Movement Sciences at Davis & Elkins College from 1963 to 1998, retiring as professor emerita. During her tenure, she also developed several study travel courses and was the tour leader for numerous trips abroad, including 20 different countries in the Caribbean.
Well-respected in Division I athletics, Minnick coached field hockey at D&E for 17 years, leading her teams to national prominence. Her overall record of 145-21-14 includes 12 undefeated regular seasons against nationally ranked teams and three Midwest championships. Her teams were four-time national qualifiers and placed third in the Division I National Championship in 1981.
Throughout her career, Minnick coached five All-Midwest players, three All-South players and two All-American players.
Minnick has received several accolades for her coaching and teaching achievements. In 2011, she was inducted into the West Virginia University College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences Hall of Fame. At D&E, she was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990 and was selected for the Lois Latham Award for Teaching Excellence. She was also honored with the West Virginia Celebrate Women Award, the West Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AHPERD) Honor Award, the Recognition Award from the West Virginia Sports Writers Association and named to the Traveler’s Century Club.
Minnick served 10 years on the West Virginia AHPERD board of directors, holding several offices. She also served as president of the West Virginia College of Health and Physical Education Association, as the West Virginia Commissioner for women’s sports and was a member of the Midwest Field Hockey Board, Division I National Rating Board and the West Virginia Content Specialization Test
Development Committee. In addition, she was active in the AAUW, Alpha Delta Kappa, AAUP and the National Association of Physical Education in Higher Education.
Minnick earned a Ph.D. from New York University in 1970 and continued post-doctoral studies at the University of Utah, Penn State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received her Master of Science degree from WVU in 1964 and Bachelor of Science degree in physical education from West Virginia University School of Physical Education in 1949. Minnick is also a graduate of Marlinton High School in Pocahontas County.
Minnick’s former student, DeLuca graduated from Davis & Elkins College in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree in health and physical education/fitness. During her college career, she played on the Senators women’s basketball team. She also holds a Master of Science degree in psychomotor development and an Ed.D. in physical education, both from WVU.
Currently the chair of the Department of Sport Science and professor of health and physical education, DeLuca began her career at D&E in 1991. She had previously served as a physical education teacher at North Allegheny School District and South Park School District in Pennsylvania and in the local Randolph County School System.
At D&E, DeLuca served as a member of the Presidential Succession Committee. Along with members of the Department of Sport Science, she created Project Life Change, a free program aimed at helping participants create a better, healthier lifestyle now in its fifth year.
The Davis & Elkins College Department of Sport Science encompasses exercise science, physical education and sport management programs. The programs for students seeking a bachelor’s degree are designed to provide leadership and facilities for regular instruction and participation in physical activity, and assist students in gaining a better understanding of the general principles and concepts involved in the fundamentals of effective movement patterns. Students are provided with working knowledge of the physiology of exercise and exercise testing and prescription so that graduates may pursue employment in public and privately owned wellness and fitness centers, corporate fitness facilities and clinical therapeutic programs, and be prepared to continue their formal education at the graduate level.