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Closer to the light

According to a recent article published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, creativity “… encourages positive emotions that can unlock our inner resources for dealing with stress and uncertainty.” The truth of the preceding statement has been made evident on the campus of Davis & Elkins College this year. An abundance of creativity has been coupled with resilience that has enabled us to navigate through the unprecedented months of the pandemic.

As we head into the homestretch of the 2020-2021 academic year, it is reassuring to look back at the long, dark tunnel we came through as daily we grow closer to the light at the other end. It was just over a year ago that we closed the College, sent students home, and told the faculty they had one week to be ready for online education. To the credit of each faculty member, they responded out of necessity and with creativity, and we completed the semester for our students.

As President, I made decisions over this past year I would never have anticipated. I was guided by a group on campus called the COVID Task Force. Their stellar work and wise science-based counsel kept this institution open for the fall and spring semesters, and kept our students, faculty, and staff safe. Again, creative solutions to perplexing problems demonstrating a resilience among the campus community. The banners on campus reading #DEStrong sum it up best.

Resilience took center court for the athletics program of the College as well. With competition suspended in the fall within the Mountain East Conference, all 24 athletic teams have either completed or are about to complete abbreviated seasons played entirely this spring. Thorough planning and an abundance of creativity enabled team practices, home and away contests, and strict COVID protocols and testing to result in student-athletes playing and coaches coaching. Senator Nation has made us proud with their passion to succeed.

Imagine being tasked with leading student life during a pandemic on a residential campus that prides itself on creating community. “Creative” doesn’t begin to describe the ways in which our Student Life professionals have helped us to complete one of the most challenging years in our history. With safety as their priority, they enforced the necessary rules to keep COVID away from the campus “bubble.” Yet, they found ways to bring fun, joy, and community into the bubble. To avoid students leaving campus where they could potentially pick up the virus and spread it on campus, all student breaks were eliminated from the academic calendar. It became more important than ever to make weekends fun. As just a sampling of the recent weekend events on campus, D&E students have participated in ax throwing, bumper cars in The McDonnell Center, miniature golf in the Myles Center, karaoke night, Mardi Gras festival, paint and sip, outdoor movies, casino night, Ohio Burn Unit Fire Show, iceless ice skating, and Winter Snow Ball Formal with pandemic precautions.

While true that it has been a year I hope not to repeat, it has also brought out the creative and resilient nature of Davis & Elkins College Senators. These are traits that will serve us all well on our continuing journey.

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