Coming home to D&E

Scores of our alumni accepted our invitation to return home. Homecoming 2018 is now history, but the memories were myriad and will last for a very long time.

Lisa and I participated in our third homecoming as president and first lady at Davis & Elkins College. Like many alumni, we now know sufficient numbers of those returning to campus anticipate the renewal of acquaintances, and always look forward to new faces and new stories. Over the three days and numerous events that make up the weekend, we found ourselves more and more appreciative of this unique college in the mountains that has welcomed us and invited us, like our alumni, to come home.

The whirlwind weekend is remembered as snippets in my mind’s eye. It started with Founders’ Day when we honored distinguished alumni, faculty receiving promotions and students receiving academic accolades. Fifty people gathered at our home for dinner as we welcomed to the Half-Century Club alumni who celebrated 50 years or more since graduation. They reminisced, laughed, cried and expressed gratitude for a small college that changed the course of their lives and provided lifelong friends.

The first floor of Graceland was packed for a party with old friends reliving days gone by. The Hilda and Robert R. Butler Lobby at The McDonnell Center overflowed with former teammates and well-wishers congratulating six outstanding D&E athletes inducted into the college’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Without fail, each expressed the profound impact of coaches and professors on their lives at a young and impressionable age.

Before a crowded room, Dr. Bill King shared poetry from his new book, painting pictures and evoking emotions with his powerful words. Our men’s and women’s soccer teams thrilled us with their athleticism as we cheered them on at Nuttall Field, and crowned Miss D&E and Mr. Senator between games. Female Greek alumni gathered with D&E’s two new sororities over a cup of tea to strengthen their sisterhood. Kaia Kater, a 2016 graduate and Young Alumna Award winner, mesmerized a chapel full of concert attenders with her original lyrics, haunting melodies and engaging conversation.

Soccer athletes from the decades gathered for a banquet to celebrate the storied history of the sport at D&E, including two national championships. The Icehouse did not disappoint as alumni revived memories of the unique structure that has served as the gathering place for generations of students, and continues to create memories for today’s students.

Members of the 1904 Society filled the Great Hall at Halliehurst as we said thanks to them for their financial investment in a college that has served students for 114 years and still has its brightest days ahead.

Finally, the weekend ended as we worshipped together, led by Carson Crawford, a junior, who is preparing for ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.

Time and again, I had conversations with alumni that were variations on a basic theme. The theme was the transformative nature of the experience they had as students at D&E.

How grateful I am to be on life’s journey, and to find myself at this place during this time. It was quite the weekend!

The journey continues….