Charles F. Erickson of Parkersburg, who died on July 4, built alumni centers at colleges and universities across West Virginia. In addition, at Davis & Elkins College, he left a living legacy as well.
Commenting on the continuing influence of the late college benefactor, D&E President Dr. Michael Mihalyo said, "Charles believed in the importance of much more than just alumni 'relations.' He insisted the focus must be on alumni 'engagement and support.'
"We took him seriously. And during the past year, the D&E Board of Trustees revised our bylaws to reflect his admonition. Our board now has an Alumni Engagement and Support Sub-Committee," Mihalyo continued. "And on July 1 - three days before his passing - we promoted our alumni staff person, Ms. Wendy Morgan, to the newly created position of director of alumni engagement and support. His legacy lives on for us in this still further tangible and vibrant way."
Charles and his father, the late Charles O. Erickson, both felt strongly about the importance of higher education to the future of West Virginia and to the country. After his father's death in 1993, the Erickson Foundation was formed. Charles promised his father he would run the foundation focusing on providing a home on West Virginia college and university campuses for alumni to remain connected and involved with each institution. To date, there are 13 Erickson alumni centers throughout West Virginia.
D&E received such a grant from the Erickson Foundation in the early 1990s when historic Graceland Mansion was being restored. The senior Mr. Erickson liked the idea of incorporating an alumni gathering place within this National Historic Landmark. As a result, for more than 20 years Graceland has served as a campus 'home' for literally thousands of alumni when they return for reunions, Homecoming and other cultural and athletic events.
The historic Graceland bears testimony to the Erickson Foundation's generous support with a bronze plaque on the main floor with the following inscription: "In Memory of Charlie O. Erickson, Whose vision and generosity recognized the leadership of all alumni of this College along with alumni of other institutions in West Virginia."
The plaque was presented to D&E by Myrah Erickson Scott and Lee A. Scott Sr., sister and brother-in-law of the late Charles F. Erickson, at the rededication of Graceland on October 14, 1995.
Commenting further on the influence of Charles F. Erickson, President Mihalyo noted, "Charles and his father understood as have few others that colleges do not grow by themselves - they are built by people who believe in them. This insight has been a huge source of inspiration to the renaissance of Davis & Elkins College in recent years."