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| the history of wake forest
The 1960s were exciting times for students. One of many
emerging issues was student representation on college campuses. There
was a big push nationally to have students elected to the Board of Trustees.
The speculation was that either Duke or UNC would have the first student
trustee in North Carolina.
The cards unfolded perfectly for Wake Forest to become the first uni-
versity in the South to name a student as trustee. I was the student body
president and a Baptist from North Carolina (making me eligible to serve),
and there was a vacancy on the Board of Trustees. The trustees (especially
Dr. Carlton Prickett, who also happened to be my pastor) exhibited courage
and leadership in nominating me for approval by the North Carolina Baptist
State Convention. Surprisingly, there was little opposition at the Convention.
I realized how important an event this was for Wake Forest when a
reporter called me at Taylor Dorm during the Convention. He said he was a
Wake alumnus, had been covering the Convention for years, and the appoint-
ment was the most exciting thing he had ever reported. The story made the
New York Times and the front page of many North Carolina newspapers.
The naming of a student trustee at Wake Forest, especially being a first of
its kind, created a feeling of excitement and sense of pride on campus.
Having the first student trustee was a defining moment in Wake For-
est’s history. It was also a defining moment in my life. The board contin-
ued to expand student leadership. In the process, I had the richly unique
opportunity to work with Dr. Scales and board members such as Supreme
Court Chief Justice Joseph Branch and Congressman Jim Broyhill.
The Trustees were very receptive to my ideas and proposals and could
not have been more hospitable toward me as a fellow member. However, I
did go down to a blazing defeat over the intervisitation issue. My motion to
have intervisitation between the male and female students in the dorms was
defeated 35–1. As I told the board following the vote, I felt like Daniel in
the Lion’s Den. After visiting my daughter in a campus dorm a few years
ago, I think that we, the students, finally won.
in retrospect
Daniel in the Lion’s Den
By James E. Cross, Jr. (B.A., ’70; J.D., ’73)
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