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Don’t fail to plan

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This wisdom was passed along to me at an early age.

Early in my presidency at Davis & Elkins College, we began a grassroots strategic planning effort. One central component of this multi-faceted strategic plan called for a Comprehensive Master Plan to guide the use of land and space on campus, determine needs for new construction and renovation of existing buildings, and improve pedestrian and vehicular traffic flow

More than simply examining “space and place,” this Master Plan focused on creating an environment to complement the core mission of the institution, namely to provide a transformative educational experience for our students. In short, the Master Plan lays out how to enhance our students’ learning, leading and living. When adopted by our Board of Trustees in September of this year, it was the first comprehensive plan for the campus since 1970.

I am energized by this plan, for at its heart its implementation will transform the Davis & Elkins College campus and dramatically enhance the learning environment for our students. It is a bold and ambitious plan that exemplifies the College leading the way through distinction and excellence.

Phase one of several phases begins on November 1. With deep gratitude to D&E Trustee and friend, June Myles, construction of a $6.6 million addition to Myles Center for the Arts and Myles Plaza is ready to commence.

Presently, the plaza outside of the Myles Center for the Arts is a decaying area of concrete that one passes through to get to Robbins Memorial Chapel or the Myles Center. After construction, Myles Plaza will become a destination. The curvilinear design will mix grassy areas and attractive stone walkways meandering past a 10-foot bronzed sculpture of two young dancers. An outdoor classroom carved into the hillside, sitting areas and a memorial to D&E alumni who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the Vietnam War will grace the plaza.

The Myles Center itself will see an approximate 6,000-square-foot addition to The Joni and Buck Smith Arts Forum. This two-story addition will be outlined with serpentine glass and will be entered through a new stone rotunda similar to the one on the campus’ Madden Center.

The enlarged Forum will be both aesthetically pleasing and practical for campus and community gatherings. More than 350 people can be accommodated for meals and other events. The enlarged space will include an elevator for handicapped accessibility throughout the building, new restrooms, a warming kitchen for catering services, and storage.

The transformation of the campus begins in earnest with the start of construction on Myles Center for the Arts in a few days. Rather than “failing to plan” or “planning to fail,” we are planning to lead the way as an institution dedicated to our students and committed to continually improving the quality of life for the people of Randolph County and the region. D&E’s brightest days are ahead.

How grateful I am to be journeying with the D&E community at this promising time in the storied history of this College.

The journey continues…