ELKINS, W.Va. — Davis & Elkins College has earned an "A" from global media company Forbes for its financial health, the highest grade it has awarded to any private, not-for-profit school in West Virginia.
Forbes magazine published its annual college financial grades list in an article titled “Forbes 2023 College Financial Grades: The Nation’s Strongest And Weakest Schools.” The magazine reviewed financial data from the National Center for Education Statistics for 906 private, not-for-profit colleges in the U.S.
The data covered colleges that enrolled at least 500 full-time students for the fiscal year that began in July 2020 and ended in June 2021, and that assessment resulted in a 4.07 GPA for Davis & Elkins.
College President Chris Wood emphasized the institution-wide attention to finances as the key to its continued strength despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are elated at the ‘A’ grade by Forbes because it reflects the diligence we exercise to ensure our institution is financially healthy,” Wood said.
“I also strongly believe we are financially solid because that commitment is a priority from the Board of Trustees to administration to faculty and staff on the D&E campus. There is institution-wide buy-in, which has served us well as private, not-for-profit schools across the country emerge from COVID-19 and its lingering after-effects.”
After the pandemic, most U.S. colleges were forced to offer classes virtually. As many embraced online learning, they began to spend capital or take on debt to expand these online programs, he said.
“Institutions across the country had never been in a situation like this before, so there was no track record to look back on to see how such situations had been handled in the past,” Wood said.
“We knew we had to invest in online learning to bridge the gap for all students until we determined it was safe to return to campus, but we also had to look ahead to college life after the pandemic.
“Our thinking was that this was a great opportunity to adapt to the needs of a college-going community that had, itself, evolved. The investments we ultimately made were to every facet of Davis & Elkins College, ranging from online learning to housing and from classrooms to public spaces,” he said.
Forbes College Financial Grades are designed to assess a private not-for-profit college’s balance sheet health and operational soundness using the following nine measures. The data is derived from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics.
Only schools with more than 500 full-time students were included, and public colleges were not graded.
The nine measures included endowment assets per full-time equivalent, primary reserve ratio, viability ratio, core operating margin, tuition as a percentage of core revenues, return on assets, admissions yield, percent of freshmen getting grant aid, and instruction expenses per full-time equivalent.
Wood said future students would notably benefit from the college's successes.
“The global pandemic and its aftermath were challenging to all educational institutions, as we were facing new obstacles nearly every day,” Wood said.
“This grade affirms our belief that we have been reasonably successful in navigating these difficult times. Among the benefactors of our viability are current and future D&E students who will receive a high-quality education and go on to impact the world.”
Located in Elkins, West Virginia, the school was founded in 1904 and is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. It was named for Henry G. Davis and his son-in-law Stephen B. Elkins, who were both members of the United States Senate from West Virginia.
The college in 2022 enrolled 805 students, with a 12:1 student/faculty ratio. The Augusta Heritage Center at Davis & Elkins provides instruction and performances, folklife programs, and a home for significant collections of field recordings, oral histories, photographs, instruments, and Appalachian art.
The college's Center for Railway Tourism provides an 18-credit undergraduate minor in Railway Heritage Tourism Management.
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