THE WAY FORWARD
Serving as the President of Davis & Elkins College is a high honor and privilege that also entails responsibility. The President of the College is to uphold and promote the endorsed mission, vision and values of the institution which include “thoughtful engagement in the world,” “act(ing) responsibly as citizens of multiple communities,” and valuing “human dignity and social responsibility.”
Thus far in my tenure as President, and particularly since the tragic murder of George Floyd and the worldwide protest it ignited, select students, alumni, faculty, and staff have experienced incidents of discrimination, and have shared frustration that their voices deserve to be heard. Recent incidents of racist behavior in Elkins have magnified the reality of inequality that continues to plague our society. Like the United States, the College has not always lived up to the ideals we have espoused.
Affirming that Black Lives Matter, the current movement for justice and equality provides an opportunity for change within the Davis & Elkins College community. As its President, working collaboratively with the chair of the Board of Trustees, I am committed to working with all stakeholders to listen, learn, and act intentionally to educate and address overt and subtle forms of bias and discrimination so that values espoused are values truly lived out in our communal life. Open and honest dialogue is the beginning of affecting real change.
As students return to campus for the fall semester, let us gather to commence this process that will include representatives of the students, alumni, administration, faculty, staff, Board of Trustees, and the Elkins community. Resources available include, but are not limited to, the Director of Multicultural Programs, Benfield-Vick Chaplain, Black Student Union, Black Alumni Coalition, and the Morrison-Novakovic Center for Faith and Public Policy. The anticipated result of this intentional engagement will be mutually agreed upon action. In preparation, a select group of campus leaders will meet over the summer to jumpstart this process.
Repentance, which literally means turning around, is only possible when sin is acknowledged. For both our country and our College, may the coming days be a journey of repentance, opportunity, and hope.