Michele Gillespie, Dean of the College, Wake Forest University
Michele Gillespie began her tenure as the Dean of the College in July 2015. Teacher-scholar and administrator, she balances academic rigor with integrating holistic learning and community engagement into her work with faculty, staff and students of the undergraduate school of arts and science. Dean Gillespie has an M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Princeton University and a B.A. from Rice University, where she majored in History and English. Prior to her time at Wake Forest, Gillespie spent nine years at Agnes Scott College, where she taught U.S. History.
Dean Gillespie arrived at Wake Forest University in 1999, was named Kahle Faculty Fellow in 2004, and served as associate provost for academic initiatives from 2007 to 2010. Since 2013, she has been the Presidential Endowed Professor of Southern History. She was honored as a pioneer in the service-learning field with North Carolina’s Robert L. Sigmon Service Learning Award in 2010. In 2014, she worked with honors students in the history department and Special Collections and Archives to collect 30 oral histories of parishioners at St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church to celebrate the church’s 75th anniversary. For her work in the project, she received Wake Forest’s Kulynych Omicron Delta Kappa Award, which recognizes faculty who bridge the gap between classroom and student life.
Gillespie has published two prize-winning books: Free Labor in an Unfree World: White Artisans in Slaveholding Georgia, 1789-1860 (2000) and Katharine and R.J. Reynolds: Partners of Fortune and the Making of the New South (2012), as well as articles, book chapters, and 10 co-edited books, all focusing on race, gender, class and political economy in the history of the South.
Since her appointment as Dean of the College, she has prioritized department chairs’ leadership development; developed inclusive excellence practices and policies; co-chaired the President’s Committee on the First Year-Experience, launched a major core curriculum review; and facilitated increased interdisciplinary and community-engaged teaching and learning in partnership with the Mellon Foundation and the Humanities Institute. Her priorities this academic year include creating an Office of Experiential Education and faculty development for and implementation of faculty-supported core curriculum changes.