History of the College

Wake Forest Institute was founded in 1834 and opened its doors on February 3 with Dr. Samuel Wait as principal.  Classes were first held in a farmhouse in Wake County, North Carolina, near which the village of Wake Forest later developed.  It was re-chartered in 1838 as Wake Forest College.  Today, Wake Forest College, located in Winston-Salem NC, is the undergraduate liberal arts and sciences school of Wake Forest University. It comprises a faculty of over 400, confers undergraduate degrees in nearly 40 academic majors, and has an enrollment of less than 4500 undergraduates.  The College is the cornerstone of the University’s academic life; through it, the University carries on the tradition of preparing men and women for personal enrichment, enlightened citizenship, and professional life.

For over a century and a half, Wake Forest College has been educating students in the fundamental fields of human knowledge and achievement.  It seeks to encourage habits of the mind that ask “why,” that evaluate evidence, that are open to new ideas, that attempt to understand and appreciate the perspectives of others, that accept complexity and grapple with it, that admit error, and that pursue truth.



Chronological History of Wake Forest University

1834 Founded in the town of Wake Forest, North Carolina, as Wake Forest Manual Labor Institute by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Samuel Wait, president.

1838 Named Wake Forest College.

1845 William Hooper, president.

1849 John Brown White, president.

1854 Washington Manly Wingate, president.

1879 Thomas Henderson Pritchard, president.

1884 Charles Elisha Taylor, president.

1894 School of Law established.

1902 Two-year School of Medicine established.

1905 William Louis Poteat, president.

1921 First summer session.

1927 Francis Pendleton Gaines, president.

1930 Thurman D. Kitchin, president.

1941 Relocation of the School of Medicine to Winston-Salem and eventual change of name to Bowman Gray School of Medicine and association with the North Carolina Baptist Hospital.

1942 Women admitted as undergraduate students.

1950 Harold Wayland Tribble, president.

1956 Move to Winston-Salem in response to an endowment from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

1961 Graduate School of Arts and Sciences established.

1962 First full-time Black undergraduate student enrolled.

1967 James Ralph Scales, president.

1967 Change of name to Wake Forest University.

1969 Charles H. Babcock Graduate School of Management established.

1983 Thomas K. Hearn Jr., president.

1984 Sesquicentennial anniversary.

1986 Established governing independence from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

1995 School of Business and Accountancy is renamed the Wayne Calloway School of Business and Accountancy.

1997 Change of name to Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

1999 Divinity School founded.

1999 Incorporation of Wake Forest University Health Services

2005 Nathan O. Hatch, president.

The liberal arts college of Wake Forest University where students explore and integrate the humanities, sciences and fine arts


Wake Forest College
PO Box 7225,
Wake Forest University,
Winston-Salem NC 27109

Phone 336.758.5311
Fax 336.758.4346

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