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Special Name

“What’s in a name?” asked William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. Last week we honored a faculty and a staff member with two very special awards.

Dr. Katherine Osborne, Associate Professor of English, had her class interrupted as I led a parade of several College employees carrying flowers and balloons to present her with the Lois Latham Award for Teaching Excellence. Lois Latham was a beloved English professor teaching at the College in the 1950s and 1960s. The award was established at the time of her death in 1980 by a grateful former student.

On the same day, a surprise gathering on the Halliehurst porch congratulated Wendy Morgan, Director of Alumni Engagement and Support, for recognition by her fellow staff members as she received the Robin Price Award for Staff Excellence. Robin Price had an outstanding 46-year career at D&E in both the Advancement and President’s offices and was present for the award presentation.

Lois Latham and Robin Price are two names whose legacy at D&E is secure. Across campus there are many names, some engraved in stone, that speak to a deep love and abiding contributions to this unique College. They represent faculty, staff, presidents, Board of Trustee leaders, alumni and dear friends. It would behoove us to remember their contributions and be grateful for their service and dedication.

“Leading the Way” is the tagline for Davis & Elkins College. How appropriate as the two gentlemen in our name were national leaders in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. United States Senator Henry Gassaway Davis and his son-in-law Senator Stephen B. Elkins made an indelible impact on this entire region as barons of business. The “Science Building” at the entrance to campus was named Albert Hall in 1958 in honor of Dean Charles Albert who served the College for half a century as Professor of Physics and Engineering. Former Trustee and Presbyterian philanthropist Alex Booth was honored with the dedication of the Booth Library in 1992. In recent years, the service and philanthropy of three members of our Board of Trustees have been recognized with the naming of The McDonnell Center for Jim McDonnell, Myles Center for the Arts for June Myles, and Moyer Hall for Bill and Joan Moyer.

Endowed Chairs have been established for Dr. Thomas R. Ross, Dr. S. Benton Talbot, Joyce Allen, President Emeritus “Buck” Smith, Dr. Jean Minnick, Professor Claire Fiorentino, and in honor of Dr. Gloria Payne. Memorial markers and benches carry such names as alumni George Cline, Charles Potter, Eugene Morrisey, and several service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the Vietnam War.

Today’s students are surrounded by names on the Davis & Elkins College campus. These are names of men and women who have inspired, sacrificed, mentored, and above all dedicated their lives to ensuring a transformative education and opportunity for generations to follow. For current students, surrounded by these giants, inspiration and encouragement are everywhere as they prepare themselves for lives of meaning and purpose so that one day their names may too inspire others who will follow.

What’s in a name? A lifetime of service and sacrifice, and the ability to inspire and influence new generations. I am grateful for such a cloud of witnesses.

The journey continues…

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