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Dr. Chris Gilmer, President


I am back home in West Virginia, appreciating the place and my wonderful life here even more for spending a few days where my life started, on the country roads of Mississippi, during the Easter holiday. I drove along the road to Damascus and visited the church where my Mamaw Sarah took me as a child. When I closed my eyes, I could almost smell the aroma of dinner on the ground and hear “Rock of Ages” being sung by the congregation. I visited the burial place of that same woman, and my Papaw Carlton, remembering she got her wish to rest on the hillside where she told us she would await the trumpet of her Lord.

Further along the paths of my youth, I ended up in Standing Pine on the Turtleneck Road where my mother was born. Standing in the spot where we returned her ashes to ashes, dust to dust, a cold wind blowing strong against my face, I felt her in the distance, coming. She always comes to me in this place, today a mighty hawk surfing the billows, high and distant, slowly getting closer until finally this magnificent bird made three passes right in front of me, closer than a hawk ever comes, lingering in reassurance before soaring back to the heights, eventually disappearing across a pasture into the tree line. Tell me that wasn’t my mama if you like, but you will be wasting your time.

I have always heard we never really know where we are going until we know where we have been. I know and I celebrate it. How about you? My new friends in West Virginia often hear me talk about the road to Damascus, so I share these words and photos to help make it as real to you as it is to me.

I am starting a new blog, random hopes, dreams, and reveries about times long past and about the moments in time we are sharing. Together, we will remember where we started and imagine where we are going as a university and as individuals. Tell us where you came from and what it means to you, and join me as we blog together today and in the years to come.


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