7 minute read

D&E Launches President’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative

D&E Launches President’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative

Davis & Elkins College has a history of coming together as a united community. This year, the College continued that unity with the President’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative. The action is a pledge to listen, learn, and act intentionally to uphold the D&E institutional values and mission of “thoughtful engagement in the world,” “act(ing) responsibly as citizens of multiple communities,” and valuing “human dignity and social responsibility.” President Chris A. Wood announced the Initiative earlier this year and appointed a committee made up of faculty, staff, students, trustees, alumni and Elkins community members. D&E Director of Career Services Chris Jones serves as committee chair, assisted by Adjunct Professor Laurie Goux. Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Philosophy Dr. Bryan Wagoner through the Morrison-Novakovic Center for Faith and Public Policy is assisting with programming. “Our desired goal is to nurture a learning environment of openness and mutual respect for all within the D&E community so that values espoused are values truly lived out in our communal life,” Wood said. Multiple sessions of professional development, student workshops and public programming have occurred. Additional opportunities will follow throughout the academic year. The Initiative was launched in September with a keynote presentation by race, diversity and dialogue experts Dr. David Campt and Matthew Freeman. It was one in a series of seven hosted by D&E’s MorrisonNovakovic Center for Faith and Public Policy with funding from alumnus and Trustee David Morrison ’79 and his wife, Phebe Novakovic. In addition, Jones composed an interactive Diversity, Equity & Inclusion resource page that includes a calendar of events, articles and resources. Members of the campus community help keep the page active by contributing content.

Members of the President’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative Committee are, from left, D&E Director of Career Services Chris Jones, who serves as chairman, Adjunct Professor Laurie Goux and Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Philosophy Dr. Bryan Wagoner.

New D&E Website Gives Students, Parents Feeling of Being on Campus


The new Davis & Elkins College website, www.dewv.edu, gives visitors the feeling of being on the grounds of the 116-year-old, 180-acre campus. The redesign features mobile optimization, easier navigation and a reflection of the College in its natural surroundings. The project was made possible through a generous donation from longtime friends Doug and Gay Lane. The Lane gift allowed D&E to partner with Caylor Solutions – an industry leader serving similar institutions. “We were adamant that we would paint an accurate picture of what academics and campus life are like,” said Dr. Rosemary Thomas, vice president for enrollment management and institutional advancement. “D&E has worked hard to establish its brand, which has been forged for generations by the best ambassadors we could ask for, our graduates. The new website reflects this institution’s unique personality and its commitment to students. In short, we wanted a website that really told our story, and we believe this site does precisely that.” The project team and overall effort was managed by Director of Enrollment Technology Matt Shiflett, who led the charge to ensure stakeholders were considered every step of the way. Students and their families, along with alumni, donors, faculty, staff and friends of the college, were among primary audiences to which the new D&E website will appeal. “The College website should serve as an accurate lens through which visitors can see D&E and the truly unique educational experience we offer,” Thomas said. “Our primary goals were to provide visually appealing information to prompt potential students and their families to visit campus, and to present information that resonates with prospective students that they can fairly evaluate in their college search and actually picture themselves on our campus. We have always felt that if we can get future students to visit campus, the atmosphere and environment of D&E would speak loudly for itself.”

NEWS AROUND CAMPUS Teaching Virtually: A Lesson for Students & Professors

Despite challenges, Instructor of Theatre and Film Lonnie Martin ’02 is finding an upside to the abnormalities. One of his more popular theatre classes, Film Appreciation, moved to Harper-McNeeley Auditorium to allow the number of students enrolled to safely social distance. “Showing film clips in the auditorium gives us a nice, bigStudents present readings in Lonnie Martin’s History screen cinema experience,” of Theatre II class. Masks and social distancing are he said. “In a weird way, the mandatory in all classrooms. extra anxiety from COVID Faculty Bands Together has had a positive effect on unifying us. Everybody knows we’re all in this for Teaching in a together, so there’s a real effort to minimize Pandemic conflict and meet each other halfway.”

Resourcefulness, technology and creativity were the keys to taking classes online in mid-semester last spring. With faculty working together to share ideas and their particular expertise, courses came together in various forms including recorded lectures and interactive Zoom classes.

Differences in students’ time zones put some out-of-class group projects on hold. Sharing of assignments via video fell into place, and outdoor class studies became individualized.

“My plant taxonomy course is all about plant identification,” said Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Science Dr. Crystal Krause. “We normally go out in the field every week for class. I quickly started recording myself (thanks to my husband) doing what I would have done in class. Then asked students to do the same, go outside for a walk to see if they could find any blooming plants where they live.” When the spring semester ended, Krause, along with Assistant Professors of Psychology Dr. Hillary Wehe and Dr. Sarah Garrison pulled together software options and learning sessions for faculty. That upswing in technology resources helped professors ease into the fall semester with hybrid classes – some days there are in-person sessions and other days instruction is online. Some courses have been moved wholly online. For in-person sessions, students are required to wear masks, classroom capacity is reduced and some faculty have moved instruction outdoors.

Lectures and Hands-On Learning

For biology and environmental science classes, lecture and lab are a natural pair. To complement the two virtually, Professor of Biology Dr. Michelle Mabry employed different methods, some of which are continuing for fall. “Fortunately, shifting to online happened around midterm, so students were able to get some hands-on lab experience,” Mabry said. “For BIOL 102 and ENVS 100A I modified the online homework assignment they were already doing to include more questions that required data analysis and quantitative reasoning. Students weren’t collecting data, but they got practice analyzing and interpreting data.” In her 300-level biology class, Mabry moved her textbook assignments online and hosted a class forum where she and her students could discuss the articles and data.

This semester, Mabry is conducting face-to-face lab instruction, while lectures are online. “I think lab is very important in biology classes – this is where you learn important skills and apply what you’re learning in lecture,” Mabry said. “Capacity in the lab rooms is reduced by half to maintain physical distancing, so I’ve had to add extra lab sections for two of my classes.” To increase engagement in the online lectures, Mabry added interactive features where students have to answer a question about the content.

In Tune with One Another

The D&E Concert Choir is still about blending voices in harmony, but it puts a new emphasis on the individual. The process can be a little tricky, Choir Director Liz MarshallMacVean and Instructor of Music Donna Baroudi Huffman say, and they both predict that in the end it could enhance each singer’s performance strength. Marshall-MacVean spent the spring and summer researching and learning in an attempt to find a solution on how to have a safe choir performance. A webinar from the National Association of Teachers of Singing presented a key word – aerosol, a potential mechanism for spreading the COVID-19 virus. “When you sing, you take a deep breath and that creates more fluid. That fluid comes out in an aerosol that spreads over 12 feet,” MarshallMacVean explained. “There has been a lot of research into recent studies on this with various organizations contributing.” The data suggests singers maintain at least a 12-foot distance, and Marshall-MacVean says that can dramatically affect the sound produced by a choir. The predicament led MarshallMacVean and Baroudi Huffman to focus on the singular performer and a whole new world of technology. They think that with a lot of practice and dedication, the choir can still produce a performance – it just won’t be on a stage. While their twice weekly in-person sessions focus on journaling their new process and lyrical

Concert Choir classes were moved outdoors where students discuss lyrical study.