Starting Over
Not all questions have answers, and no important question has an easy answer. In
the knowing of our ignorance, there is the wisdom of Socrates. If we have taught you
well, your days will contain moments of contemplation about nature and nature’s god,
human nature and its destiny, and even the structure of the cosmos itself. The nature of
education is not so much to know as to be a seeker after truth.
Thomas K. Hearn Jr., May 18, 1992;
Charge to the Graduates, Wake Forest University Commencement
t the beginning of the 1991–1992 academic year, Tom Hearn realized he
wanted to get a fresh look at Wake Forest, as well as a fresh start. He had
at the University for eight years, long enough to see two full student
classes matriculate and graduate. His new personal theme, “Starting Over,” was more
than lip service. He sent a three-page letter to students that the Old Gold and Black
described as “a more personal and reflective message from a man who is a mystery to
many students.” He explained that once or twice a year he spent time alone reviewing
planning processes and “looking over what I have been doing and what the primary
problems and opportunities of the school seem to be.” In the past, he  had always
found “a dragon to slay . . . something that was there that had to be done that was
over and above the normal, day-to-day routine life of the institution.” Wake Forest
had broken with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina; the space problem
had been ameliorated under his watch with the construction of Olin Physical Labora-
tory in 1988 and the Benson University Center in 1990; and he had helped to revise
problematic policies with the NCAA. Now, he wanted to “know the things that the
students like about Wake Forest, and they think are going well here, the services that
are provided well” and “what things they think we need to improve and work harder
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