xii The History of Wake Forest
A Brief History of the Writing of this Book:
A Saga I Could Never Make Up
I never intended to write a history book, let alone a history of my alma mater. I was
a history major at Wake Forest and fortunate enough to have classes with Ed Wilson
and Bynum Shaw, who wrote the previous two University histories of the Tribble
years and the Scales years. However, even though I loved and still love history, most
of my professional life has been spent clinically and academically as a mental health
counselor. I say “most” because, for a few years, I was more an administrator than
a counselor or an academic. I served Wake Forest as Assistant to the President for
special projects from 1990–1997 and as Associate Provost from 1998–2007. I thought
of myself as merely taking a sabbatical from my chosen full-time profession, and, like
Ed Wilson, I continued to teach one class a semester and to write.
Thus I was a bit stunned when Tom Hearn asked me in 2006 to write the book
about his years as Wake Forest’s President. I had written a couple dozen books by
that time, mainly counseling texts and a semi-autobiography. I was not a stranger to
writing or to putting together original materials in a coherent and readable way. How
hard could such a project be? I had been in the Hearn administration for fifteen of
its twenty-two years. Now, nine years later, I know the magnitude of Tom’s request.
The project was more than I envisioned and maybe even more than any of my pre-
decessors—Paschal, Shaw, and Wilson—thought when they started their journeys to
capture an era.
I began by examining President Hearn’s papers, specifically his correspondence.
He began his presidency at a time when letters were still the most popular means of
personal expression, but little did I suspect that he had written or received 3,690 of
them. Over a two-year period, I read every one and became new best friends with the
archives room staff on the sixth floor in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library. I also began a
series of interviews with people who were prominent in the administration and in the
Winston-Salem community at the time. The President Emeritus was my first target,
and I was able to have three sit-down conversations with Tom before he died in 2008.
Carolyn Dow, his assistant, was very helpful in this process, as was Sandra Boyette. I
followed up with twenty-one other interviews, some as recent as 2015. I wanted to get
as clear a picture as possible of the times and the people.
My next task was to read all of the issues of Wake Forest Magazine published
during this period, with four to six issues each year. Janet Williamson was a jewel in
making sure I had access to each issue, and Alumni Hall became my favorite hangout.
In fact, some staff members think I work in their building. Then I went on to all the
print volumes of Window on Wake Forest to get a snapshot of internal events and
concerns. Janet let me take materials home once, on the condition I would treat them
as well as I did my wife. I complied.
In the midst of my research, my body decided to have a bit of a breakdown. I
will not go into the details, but I learned to love the Wake Forest School of Medi-
cine. Unfortunately, however, medical conditions slowed my research. The good
news is that in the midst of these medical complications, I discovered that some of
the materials I needed could be found on the Wake Forest website and elsewhere on
the Internet.
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