Happy New Year to you all! Like many of us alas, I have a list of failed New Year’s resolutions. They have included the ubiquitous top three: lose weight, exercise more, get better organized. This year, I am taking a completely different approach and I invite you to do the same. My resolution is to celebrate more and share more broadly the wonderful accomplishments of Wake Forest faculty, staff, and students.
There is so much good happening in the name of the College each and every day. Deep learning, rich engagement, and meaningful relationships occur constantly in and out of our classrooms, in our scholarship and creative work, and through our College’s collective impact upon the wider world. I invite you to join me in my resolve to sing out each other’s praises more, to hail more loudly the big AND small ways each of you as community members work to make Wake Forest an extraordinary place of discovery and transformation, and to express my gratitude more fully for that commitment.
Let me begin by sharing just a handful of contributions, past, present, and future, led by amazing Wake Forest people who deserve our appreciation. First, let’s herald two big 10-year anniversaries of life-changing programs.
It is hard to believe that the Magnolia Scholars Program for first-generation students, under Assistant Teaching Professor and Director Nate French’s (’93) generous, wise guidance has provided scholarships, academic support, study abroad opportunities, and counseling for 120 Wake Forest students each year for a full decade now. The program boasts a 96% graduation rate, and more than 200 former Magnolia Scholars are pursuing their vocational passion in fields ranging from medicine and education to journalism; in graduate programs; and in national nonprofits, accounting firms, and consultancies.
Likewise, the Office of Academic Advising is celebrating its 10-year birthday, too. This little office of 10 — now led by University Associate Professor and Associate Dean Ashley Hairston — performs a mighty service for our 5,200 students by meeting daily with dozens of undergraduates, which adds up to thousands of our students across the academic year. The OAA staff is dedicated to providing all our students with a caring and safe space for academic and whole-person guidance across their entire Wake Forest careers. It’s hard to imagine Wake Forest ever existed without their critical helping hands.
Then there are our recent study away program milestones. Wake Washington Program directed by Professor Katy Harriger and administered by Jennifer Richwine is celebrating its third year. This semester, 16 students will be taking courses on “Policy, Lobbying & Advocacy” and the very timely “Electing the President,” while balancing internships with Senators, Congresspeople, Cornerstone Government Affairs, the Hudson Institute, the American Foreign Policy Council, International Law Institute, U.S. Department of State – Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Justice – Human Rights & Special Prosecutions, APCO Worldwide, the Human Rights Campaign, Brady United, and the Women’s Foreign Policy Group.
Under Professor Rebecca Gill’s direction with critical support from GPS and the OPCD, the College has just launched the inaugural Wake West Program, modeled after Wake Washington. Twelve students are learning, studying, and engaging in internships in the innovative and dynamic culture of the San Francisco Bay Area from disciplines as divergent as communication, computer science, economics, and entrepreneurship. During orientation this week alone, they will be visiting AirBnB for “internship bootcamp” training and heading to Slack and Handshake. These are just some of the ways we help our talented students use their outstanding liberal arts education to meet the needs of the world.
Another way we engage our students in the world — and that deserves more recognition — is through the Richter Scholar Awards, the largest single set of awards on campus for the purpose of independent study abroad. Last year, the Richter Foundation doubled its gift to us; and this year, they have increased their funding even more, enabling even greater numbers of students to pursue enriching, broadening projects while being mentored by a faculty member (who has the opportunity to also seek travel funds to support their mentored student). The deadline for applications is Feb. 21. We owe our gratitude to the URECA Advisory Board under Professor Wayne Pratt’s able directorship and Associate Teaching Professor and Associate Dean Eric Stottlemyer for their serious commitment to ensuring our students get the most out of this incredible opportunity.
We also all work hard at inviting our students to recognize the ways their majors ultimately prepare them for careers they might never have imagined. Kudos to Associate Professor Rob Hellyer, the History Department, and History majors for inviting Athletic Director John Currie (’93), who majored in History at Wake Forest, to engage in a student-led conversation on just that theme this Thursday, Jan. 16, at 4 p.m. in the Annenburg Forum in Carswell.
In closing — not because there isn’t more to celebrate but because digest openings can only be so long — let’s all come together on Monday, Jan. 20, at 7 p.m. in Wait Chapel, when Professor Ibram X. Kendi will deliver the keynote speech for our annual WSSU/WFU Martin Luther King Jr. Day Program. This year’s theme is “On Common Ground: Lifting As We Climb” and highlights a commitment to creating a society that provides resources and representation to every individual through a constant pursuit of justice and equity, something we can all agree upon and pursue together in light of our Pro Humanitate mission. And if you have not read the Guggenheim-awardee’s most recent book, How to be an Antiracist, I urge you to do so.
So happy New Year to you. May your first week of classes be as exciting and exhilarating as the first day you entered the classroom. Thank you for all that you do on behalf of our College community.
8/26/19 – submissions due 8/20
9/9/19 – submissions due 9/3
9/23/19 – submissions due 9/17
10/7/19 – submissions due 10/1
10/21/19 – submissions due 10/15
11/4/19 – submissions due 10/29
11/18/19 – submissions due 11/12
12/2/19 – submissions due 11/26 (submit by noon)
1/13/20 – submissions due 1/7
1/27/20 – submissions due 1/21
2/10/20 – submissions due 2/4
2/24/20 – submissions due 2/18
(next Digest delayed
for Spring Break)
3/16/20 – submissions due 3/10
3/30/20 – submissions due 3/24
4/13/20 – submissions due 4/7
4/27/20 – submissions due 4/21
The Dean’s Office Digest is a bi-weekly newsletter. Submission deadlines for each edition are the Tuesday prior to the publication date.
Please contact Bethany Leggett if you would like to submit information to be included.