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| the history of wake forest
That at once powerful and gentle touch was sustained through-
out the Reynolds interview weekend. Tom Phillips’s constant en-
couraging good cheer, Ed and Emily Wilson generously opening
their home to the lot of us for dinner, Peggy Smith guiding us pa-
tiently through Reynolda House’s stunning American art collec-
tion, Jim Barefield pointing out the high notes of a WFU semester
in Venice—on an immense map, displayed upside down (he
blamed the map-holders—who, as a pair of hearty Wake juniors,
seemed to us impossibly suave and sophisticated): all these en-
counters felt more like a family gathering than a scholarly inquisi-
tion.
Driving home to the Western North Carolina mountains, fond
visions of Deacon-hood danced in my head. I had a Morehead
Scholarship interview a week later in Chapel Hill; Wake Forest’s
Dean Tom Mullen, another warmly welcoming familial figure dur-
ing the Reynolds interviews, suggested I stop by and say hello on
the trip back from UNC. He and Bill Starling, the much-beloved
admissions director, were standing on the Reynolda Hall steps as
I pulled up. From somewhere Dean Mullen produced a clutch of
farm-fresh eggs, further cementing my impression of Wake Forest
as the most wonderfully intimate, personable institution of higher
learning imaginable. We talked a half-hour, in that painterly late-
afternoon Winston-Salem sunlight. “We hope you’ll join us in the
fall,” Mullen said by way of parting; it seemed more a benediction
than a recruitment pitch.
And so I did, to my lifelong benefit. For me the deal was sealed
with Mr. Scales’s smile—my version of ‘you had me at hello.’ The
rest of the weekend, and indeed the four incomparably memorable
years that followed, were an extended confirmation of that essen-
tial warmth, understanding, and instillation of confidence. Thus
began my own, yes, “personal Wake Forest.”
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