Enhancing Technology Through Collaboration
davis & elkins college
NAME & LOCATION
Davis & Elkins College
Chris A. Wood
A native of Huntington, West Virginia, Chris A. Wood was named the 15th President of Davis & Elkins College in 2016. In July of 2021, the Davis & Elkins College Board of Trustees Executive Committee unanimously approved a five-year contract extension in recognition of his leadership. During his tenure, Wood has led the College to prepare for the future, both academically and financially, and steered the campus community to operate safely with in-person classes through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since President Wood’s arrival, he assumed leadership of the successful Secure the Future campaign raising a total of $101.4 million. The College’s endowment has increased by 75% over the past five years and more than $8 million in gifts have been secured for capital improvements, including expansion of Myles Center for the Arts and Myles Plaza, renovations to Harper-McNeeley Auditorium, The Caboose Café and campus-wide technology upgrades. Wood has maintained a balanced budget throughout his tenure, while funding more than $5 million in deferred maintenance projects and launching a new College website. Under Wood’s guidance, the 118-year-old college stands on solid ground and remains debt-free as it envisions a bright future.
Resulting from President Wood’s administration, the College has experienced growth in academics with the addition of numerous new programs including digital media, special education, natural resource management, cybersecurity, and a Bachelor of Science in nursing. In addition, graduation rates and student retention rates have increased. In 2021, the Higher Learning Commission reaffirmed the College’s decennial accreditation through 203.
Wood’s vision for the future of the College took form with a five-year strategic planning process that resulted in the first Campus Master Plan since 1970. Unanimously approved by the Board of Trustee in 2019, the plan creates new possibilities for personal growth and inspiration for D&E students by addressing the “value of place” in experiential education. Upgrades to Myles Center for the Arts completed the first phase.
Wood also prepared the College for the future with two presidential initiatives aimed at nurturing the learning environment. The President’s Initiative on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was launched in 2020 with a pledge to listen, learn, and act intentionally to uphold the D&E institutional values and mission of “thoughtful engagement in the world,” “acting responsibly as citizens of multiple communities,” and valuing “human dignity and social responsibility.” In 2021 the College introduced a series of new enrollment initiatives aimed at increasing enrollment and better meeting the needs of students.
In addition to accomplishments within the campus community, Wood has strengthened “town-gown” relations during his tenure. Working with First Lady Lisa Wood, Executive Director of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber, they have brought the community and the College together in numerous business collaborations. Most recently, the College and the Chamber partnered for the inaugural Summer Highlands Internship Program (SHIP) in which D&E students and Randolph County residents who attend other colleges gained hands-on skills and learned what it is like to be a part of the local business community. Both President and Mrs. Wood were named Citizens of the Year in 2022 by the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce.
Wood has focused his career on higher education and ministry. Prior to coming to D&E, Wood was vice president for advancement at Wesley College in Dover, Delaware. He also has worked as vice president for advancement at the University of Mount Olive in Mount Olive, North Carolina, executive director of Mission West Virginia Inc., and, as an ordained United Methodist pastor, served congregations in Illinois and Maryland. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and graduated magna cum laude from West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon. He also has completed additional graduate study at the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy.
He and his wife, Lisa Messinger Wood, also a Huntington native, have been married 35 years. They are the proud parents of two adult daughters and two grandchildren. President and Mrs. Wood, along with their miniature schnauzers, Hallie and Henry, reside at Hearthstone, the President’s home on the campus of Davis & Elkins College.