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Elkins – A standing-room-only crowd witnessed the installation of the A. Jean Minnick Chair in Sport Science and the dedication of the Claire Deiss Fiorentino Chair in Theatre Arts at Davis & Elkins College. The ceremony in Booth Library was part of the Secure the Future campaign celebration.
During the annual Founders’ Day celebration in September 2017, D&E President Chris A. Wood announced Minnick’s $1 million commitment to establish the A. Jean Minnick Chair in Sport Science. Chair of the Department of Sport Science and Professor of Health and Physical Education Dr. Mary Ann DeLuca, ’80, who was named the inaugural holder, spoke at the dedication telling the group she had been associated with Minnick since her days as a D&E student. Eventually, Minnick hired DeLuca to direct intramurals, teach and assist in coaching.
“Dr. Minnick has taught me content knowledge about the subject matters, persistence, hard work, timing, patience and the larger picture of Davis & Elkins College and life,” DeLuca said. “We have continued a wonderful respectful relationship.”
Minnick, who now holds the title of professor emerita, served as professor of physical education and chair of the Department of Health, Sport, and Movement Sciences at D&E from 1963 to 1998, and coached field hockey for 17 years.
“In the department, Dr. Minnick was instrumental with a forward vision to include exercise science and sport management as a major along with athletic training and exercise science as a minor,” DeLuca said, adding that the programs still exist today. “Dr. Minnick has shared her wisdom, a gift that she carried to D&E and into the department for its future.”
Currently, more than 100 students major in programs offered in the department, and a new major – community and corporate health – will begin this fall.
As an educator, coach, mentor and encourager, Minnick – the professor students called “Doc” – always had high expectations, DeLuca explained.
“Dr. Minnick, you have taught each one of your students and players to work hard because nothing is going to be handed to you; to stand up for what you believe, and to have the back bone to do so,” DeLuca said. “You have taught your students and players to continue with their education, because learning never stops. You have taught us to share our knowledge and wisdom to the next generation, because we want to build a better world.
“You have taught me, as the chair, in holding one of your former positions, the importance of supporting the Sport Science Department,” DeLuca continued. “You have inspired within me the passion of your vision and I am trying to carry it forward. We thank you again for your generous gift and ‘Securing the Future’ for the Sport Science Department and Davis & Elkins College.”
Davis & Elkins College Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Rob Phillips said the addition of the two academic chairs brings to total seven endowed chairs at the College.
Tony Fiorentino, who was unable to attend the dedication, established the chair to honor the memory of his mother and her work through the D&E Theatre Department. Speaking to the group in recognition of Tony Fiorentino’s generosity, Phillips provided an overview of Claire Fiorentino’s 30-year career at D&E.
“Professor Fiorentino was regarded with both esteem and affection by her colleagues and students,” Phillips said. “She is remembered for her commitment to her students, to whom she was affectionately known as ‘Mrs. F,’ the College and her profession which she served faithfully. She is also remembered for her contributions to the greater Elkins community, as evidenced by the multiple events she staged for the Mountain State Forest Festival.”
Claire Fiorentino came to Elkins in the 1930s and joined the D&E faculty as assistant professor of dramatics and public speaking in 1944. She later earned the position of chair of her department, a role she continued until she retired in 1974. Along the way, she received her A.B. degree from D&E. She passed away in 1988.
Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.
Davis & Elkins College Professor Emerita Dr. A. Jean Minnick, seated, is honored at the installation ceremony for the A. Jean Minnick Chair in Sport Science. Offering words of praise are, standing from left, D&E Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Rob Phillips, Chair of the Department of Sport Science and inaugural holder of the Minnick Chair Dr. Mary Ann DeLuca, D&E President Chris A. Wood and former student-athlete Carmel Shearer. Photo by Josh Triggs
The dedication of the Claire Deiss Fiorentino Chair in Theatre Arts at Davis & Elkins College drew current and former members of the Division of Creative Arts faculty, along with administrators, alumni and staff. From left are, Professor of Theatre Arts Emeritus Terry Hayes, Instructor of Theatre Emerita Ruth Humphrey, Associate Professor of Art Michael Doig, D&E President Chris A. Wood, Assistant Professor of Theatre Bridget Rue Esterhuizen and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Rob Phillips. Photo by Josh Triggs
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